Towards an Epistemology of Understanding. Rethinking Justification

March 21, 2014 - March 22, 2014
Institute for Philosophy, University of Bern

Lerchenweg 36
Bern 3012


  • Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)
  • Gesellschaft für analytische Philosophie (GAP)
  • Swiss Society for Logic and Philosophy of Science (SSLPS)
  • Burgergemeinde Bern

Main speakers:

Sabine Ammon
Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus
Christoph Baumberger
Georg Brun
University of Zürich
Catherine Elgin
Harvard University
Victor Gijsbers
Leiden University
John Greco
Saint Louis University
Stephen Grimm
Fordham University
Christoph Kelp
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Middlebury College
Henk de Regt
Free University Amsterdam


Sabine Ammon
Christoph Baumberger
ETH Zürich, Switzerland
Claus Beisbart
Universität Bern
Georg Brun
University of Zürich

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Our epistemic endeavours do not only aim at knowledge and rational belief. We also want to understand what we believe. We search for explanations of facts we know and for theories which organize our knowledge. But what indicates whether an explanation is appropriate or whether a theory really advances our understanding? This question brings justification to the fore, an aspect of understanding that has hardly been addressed so far. In epistemology, where understanding has become a hot topic, epistemic justification is intensively discussed, but not with respect to explanations and theories. In philosophy of science, explanations and theories are widely debated, but rarely with an eye t to understanding.

The aim of this conference is to bring together the debates in epistemology and in philosophy of science to clarify the question what justification in connection with understanding means. More specifically, the conference will explore how this question can be addressed by exploiting, on the one hand, well-known epistemological positions, such as internalism and theories that refer to coherence, abilities or character traits; and, on the other hand, by making use of insights from philosophy of science which help to clarify the structure of explanations and theories as well as the plurality of epistemic values.

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March 17, 2014, 6:00pm CET

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