Single Idea 15559

[catalogued under 14. Science / D. Explanation / 1. Explanation / b. Aims of explanation]

Full Idea

It is said that a good explanation ought to produce understanding, ...but this just says that a good explanation produces possession of that which it provide, so this desideratum is empty. It adds nothing to our understanding of explanation.

Gist of Idea

Does a good explanation produce understanding? That claim is just empty


David Lewis (Causal Explanation [1986], V)

Book Reference

Lewis,David: 'Philosophical Papers Vol.2' [OUP 1986], p.228

A Reaction

I am not convinced by this dismissal. If you are looking for a test of whether an explanation is good, the announcement that the participants feel they have achieved a good understanding sounds like success.

Related Idea

Idea 16806 An explanation is what is added to knowledge to yield understanding [Lipton]