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Afternoon workshop with Henk de Regt, Sander Verhaegh and Catherine Elgin
1 March @ 14:00 - 18:15
On the occasion of the public defense of the thesis ‘Understanding for a Purpose’ by Stefan Sleeuw, the department of Theoretical Philosophy of the University of Groningen hosts a workshop dedicated to the themes of the thesis. The workshop takes place on March 1 at the Faculty of Philosophy, Room Omega (Oude Boteringestraat 52, Groningen). Doors open around 14:00. Attendance is free, but please do register in advance, as there is limited seating capacity. In order to register, send an email to organiser Stefan Sleeuw: email@example.com.
The programme is as follows:
14:15-15:25 Henk de Regt (Institute for Science in Society, Radboud University): ‘Key issues in the philosophy of scientific understanding’
Since the turn of the millennium a lively philosophical debate on scientific understanding has emerged in the philosophy of science. I have contributed to this debate by presenting a contextual theory of scientific understanding in my book Understanding Scientific Understanding (OUP, 2017). Today’s talk will focus on three issues that are, in my view, currently of central importance in the philosophy of scientific understanding. I will present my recent work on these issues and sketch the most promising avenues for future research. The first issue concerns the relation between understanding and knowledge, and addresses questions like: In what sense does understanding differ from knowledge? Is truth a necessary condition for scientific understanding? The second issue concerns the relation between explanatory understanding and the other aims of science: description and prediction. I will discuss how the associated values of intelligibility, empirical adequacy and representational accuracy relate. Finally, I will address the question of whether, and if so how, philosophical theories of scientific understanding can be normative.
15:40-16:50 Sander Verhaegh (Tilburg Center for Logic, Ethics and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS), Tilburg University): ‘Analysis vs. explication: The remarkable history of mainstream epistemology’
In 1963, Edmund Gettier published a landmark paper arguing that the JTB definition of knowledge “does not state a sufficient condition for someone’s knowing a given proposition”. The article attracted a large number of responses from philosophers, who began exploring alternative definitions and supplementary conditions. In fact, the analysis of knowledge became such a prominent project that opponents (feminist epistemologists, experimental philosophers, formal epistemologists) started labeling it ‘mainstream’ epistemology. Historically, however, it is quite puzzling why this research program became so popular. Gettier published his paper in a philosophical environment that was generally opposed to the idea that we can or should state the necessary and sufficient conditions for everyday epistemic concepts. In the 1950s, Anglophone philosophy was dominated by logical positivism, ordinary language philosophy, and the more traditional approaches of Russell and Moore but none of these schools would have accepted Gettier’s methodological presuppositions. This paper reconstructs the origins of mainstream epistemology by tracing the development of four of its central commitments: (i) that epistemologists should find definitions of epistemic concepts, (ii) that they should focus on everyday notions such as ‘knowledge’; (iii) that definitions should be formulated in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions; and (iv) that we can test definitions by determining how we would use concepts in hypothetical scenarios. We argue that post-Gettier epistemology is a remarkable blend of the methods of the main schools of analytic philosophy and show that it emerged as a result of their interplay in the wake of World War II.
17:05-18:15 Catherine Elgin (Graduate school of Education, Harvard University): ‘Making progress’
I argue that we make epistemic progress by leveraging understanding. We build on our successes and exploit our failures in a way that enables us to pose questions as problems that admit of solutions. A network of commitments that promotes leveraging configures understanding, not as something true as it stands, but as a springboard for further improvement. Whether or not our ultimate goal is truth, our immediate goal is to correct perceived shortcomings and to broaden, deepen, and refine the understanding we currently have.
About the OZSW event calendar
The OZSW event calendar lists academic philosophy events organized by/at Dutch universities, and is offered by the OZSW as a service to the research community. Please check the event in question – through their website or organizer – to find out if you could participate and whether registration is required. Obviously we carry no responsibility for non-OZSW events.