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Scientific understanding and felicitous legitimate falsehoods

Lawler, Insa (2019) Scientific understanding and felicitous legitimate falsehoods. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Science is replete with falsehoods that epistemically facilitate understanding by virtue of being the very falsehoods they are. In view of this puzzling fact, some have relaxed the truth requirement on understanding. I offer a factive view of understanding (i.e., the extraction view) that fully accommodates the puzzling fact in four steps: (i) I argue that the question how these falsehoods are related to the phenomenon to be understood and the question how they figure into the content of understanding it are independent. (ii) I argue that the falsehoods do not figure into the understanding's content by being elements of its periphery or core. (iii) Drawing lessons from case studies, I argue that the falsehoods merely enable understanding. When working with such falsehoods, only the truths we extract from them are elements of the content of our understanding. (iv) I argue that the extraction view is compatible with the thesis that falsehoods can have an epistemic value by virtue of being the very falsehoods they are.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Lawler, Insairlawler@uncg.edu0000-0002-1250-6020
Keywords: Scientific understanding, Factivism, Quasi-factivism, Non-factivism, Felicitous falsehoods, Idealizations, Idealized models
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Insa Lawler
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2019 04:27
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2019 04:27
Item ID: 16682
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11229...
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/s11229-019-02495-0
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: November 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16682

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