MA Gagulov Sergei

120000 €

Scientific understanding with model narratives or an inquiry into modes of grasping

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Nelivuotinen

Scientists pursue various epistemic aims in their scientific modelling practice. And scientific understanding has been widely regarded as one of the major cognitive achievements in science. Recent work by epistemologists on the nature of understanding has shed significant light on the sense in which understanding is more epistemically demanding than propositional knowledge. It is generally agreed that understanding, as a distinct accomplishment, uniquely includes the practical ability to "grasp relationships". Proceeding from this intuition of grasping, this interdisciplinary study proposes a positive account of grasping building on the concept of epistemic narrative. More precisely, I plan to develop a local account of narrative grasping that would be applicable to highly idealised and simplified models in social science specifically. Moreover, this study will assume that the type of a scientific model defines the range of its potential modes of grasping. This will enable me to capture the various possible ways of scientific understanding. With regard to this, I aim to examine such different types of narrative vehicles in modelling as texts, equations, tables, graphs and kinds of depictions in order to identify whether grasping modes have specific narrative properties and vice versa. Hence, by analysing distinct modes of understanding-yielding grasping, this study will contribute to the debate in the philosophy of science on the link between types of explanation and understanding. And testing the assumption of various modes of grasping would enable me to transform the popular, but vague, epistemological idea of grasping into a philosophically “non-primitive" concept.