Dr. Insa Lawler (Philosophy) received new funding from the University of Iceland for the project “Understanding Progress, in Science and Beyond.”
The main objectives of this project are (i) to develop and evaluate a novel understanding-based account of scientific progress – the noetic account – and (ii) to explore the prospects for extending this account to philosophical progress. The proposed account differs from the three currently dominant accounts of scientific progress, which respectively explicate such progress in terms of knowledge, truthlikeness, and problem-solving abilities. This project will connect with burgeoning research on scientific and philosophical understanding in order to develop an account of scientific and philosophical progress that simultaneously builds on the successes of competing accounts and improves upon their weaknesses. The proposed noetic account holds, roughly, that science and philosophy make progress precisely when they increase our understanding of the relevant phenomena. Using standard methodology from philosophy of science and epistemology, the project will seek to capitalize on various potential advantages of this understanding-based account, e.g. regarding the systematicity of scientific and philosophical representation, the epistemic value of understanding, and the role of idealizations in scientific and philosophical theorizing.