Math software 32

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Finally, consider the connection between explanation and understanding. One ordinarily thinks of an explanation as something that provides understanding. Relatedly, part of the task of a theory of explanation is to identify those structural features of explanations (or the information they convey) in virtue of which they provide understanding. For example, as noted above, the DN model connects understanding with the provision of information about nomic expectability — the idea is that understanding why an outcome Math software occurs is a matter of seeing that it was to be expected on the basis of a law. The problem this raises for the hidden structure strategy is that the information associated with the hidden structure alleged to underlie “non-ideal” explanations like (2.4.1) is typically unknown or epistemically inaccessible to those who use the explanation. It is hard to see how this structure or information can contribute to understanding if it is epistemically hidden in this way. For example, it seems plausible that many (if not almost all) users of (2.4.1) (both those who might offer it as an explanation and those recipients who take it to provide understanding) are unaware of the DN structure that Ufology underlies it - indeed it is plausible that many users lack the notion of a law of nature and of a deductively valid argument and hence any notion that there is any (unknown) DN argument underlying (2.4.1). If this is the case, how can the mere obtaining of this DN structure, independently of anyone's awareness of its existence, function so as to provide understanding when (2.4.1) is used? Instead, it seems that the features of (2.4.1) that endow it with explanatory import — that make it an explanation — must be features that can be known or grasped or recognized by those who use the explanation. A similar point will hold for many other candidate explanations that fail to conform to the DN requirements such as explanations from sciences like economics and psychology that seem to lack laws.

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