Seminar Models, Intelligibility, and Scientific Understanding

Event date: 02 October 2019, 16:00 – 17:00

It is widely acknowledged that a central aim of science is to achieve an understanding of the world around us. In my talk, I will present a philosophical theory of scientific understanding that accommodates the contextual variation in criteria for understanding. The starting-point of the theory is the idea that scientists achieve understanding of phenomena by constructing model-based explanations. I will argue that model construction requires intelligible theories, whereas intelligibility relates to scientists’ abilities: theories are intelligible if scientists have the skills to use those theories in fruitful ways. The analysis will be illustrated with two examples from the history of science.

Henk W. de Regt is Professor of Philosophy of Natural Sciences at the Instititute for Science in Society, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. He published Understanding Scientific Understanding (Oxford University Press, 2017), which won the 2019 Lakatos Award. Together with Sabina Leonelli and Kai Eigner, he edited the volume Scientific Understanding: Philosophical Perspectives (Pittsburgh University Press, 2009).

Event location: NIG, Raum 3A, 3. Stock, Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Wien
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Henk de Regt