The Many Faces of Understanding
The contextual theory of scientific understanding developed and defended in this book serves as a basis for specific philosophical theories of explanation that start from the assumption that explanations should give us understanding, and as a general description and explanation of the historical variation of criteria for understanding employed by scientists in actual practice. This concluding chapter reflects on the results of the investigation by addressing three questions. First, what is the scope of the contextual theory of scientific understanding? Is it restricted to the natural sciences, or does it apply more broadly? In this context, the theory’s relation to the debate about explanation versus understanding in the humanities is discussed briefly. Second, does the theory imply a relativist philosophy of science? Third, can it serve as a basis for normative appraisal of scientific achievements?
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