Epistemic value and achievement.
Ratio, 25, (2), . (doi:10.1111/j.1467-9329.2012.00533.x).
Knowledge seems to be a good thing, or at least better than epistemic states that fall short of it, such as true belief. Understanding too seems to be a good thing, perhaps better even than knowledge. In a number of recent publications, Duncan Pritchard tries to account for the value of understanding by claiming that understanding is a cognitive achievement and that achievements in general are valuable. In this paper, I argue that coming to understand something need not be an achievement, and so Pritchard’s explanation of understanding’s value fails. Next, I point out that Pritchard’s is just one of many attempts to account for the value of an epistemic state—whether it be understanding, knowledge, or whatever—by appeal to the notion of achievement or, more generally, the notion of success because of ability. Tentatively, I offer reasons to be sceptical about the prospects of any such account.
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