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By Anthony O'Hear

In keeping with the London Lecture sequence of the Royal Institute of Philosophy for 2006-7, this assortment brings jointly essays from best figures in a quickly constructing box of philosophy. participants contain: Alvin Goldman, Timothy Williamson, Duncan Pritchard, Miranda Fricker, Scott Sturgeon, Jose Zalabardo, and Quassin Casay.

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Brogaard 2007. 15 Consider the following remark made by Lipton 2004: 30 and quoted in S. Grimm 2006: 1, for example: “Understanding is not some sort of super-knowledge, but simply more knowledge: knowledge of causes”. e. knowing that it burned down because of (say) faulty wiring. I am grateful to Grimm (2006) for alerting me to some of these references. 31 Duncan Pritchard As we will see, I want to claim that both of these conceptions of understanding are wrong, at least strictly speaking, and that once we get clear on the relationship between understanding and knowledge we can make some progress towards dealing with the problem of epistemic value.

For while one can have understanding while lacking knowledge, it should be clear that understanding requires an intellectual sophistication that is not necessarily demanded by knowledge. One can imagine, for example, an agent knowing a great deal while having very little understanding of anything, but it is hard to imagine the converse. If understanding is a cognitive achievement, something that can only fall short of knowledge when environmental 40 Knowledge, Understanding and Epistemic Value epistemic luck is present, then we have a straightforward explanation for this intuition.

It is easy to see the attraction of such a view, in that understanding does seem to be particularly valuable to us. More specifically, insofar as knowledge and understanding do indeed come apart, then understanding seems to be preferable to knowledge. As we might be tempted to put the point, we would surely rather understand than merely know. Before we can evaluate a claim of this sort, however, we need to be a little clearer about what we are talking about. One problem that afflicts any direct comparison between knowledge and understanding is that knowledge (of the propositional sort that we are concerned with at any rate) is concerned with propositions, whereas understanding usually isn’t, at least not directly.

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