The Difference between Knowledge and Understanding

Sherrilyn RoushSherrilyn Roush
University of California, Berkeley
March 15, 2014  1:45-3:15 pm


Abstract: In the Gettier problem, cases are imagined where a person has very good reason to believe a proposition p, and p is true, but many people think the person still doesn’t have knowledge. I characterize what is missing in these cases probabilistically, as a failure of what I call relevance matching. Relevance matching is best interpreted as understanding why p is true, and it is deterministically related to but distinct from the tracking conditions that in my view define knowledge. This view of understanding makes it a simulation among your mental states of the dispositions of factors probabilistically relevant to p’s being true, and as such avoids requiring unrealistic information- and computation-intensive beliefs and inferences about why p is true in order to understand.