Catherine Z. Elgin

Catherine Z. Elgin is Professor of the Philosophy of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is the author of Considered Judgment, Between the Absolute and the Arbitrary, With Reference to Reference, and (with Nelson Goodman) Reconceptions in Philosophy and Other Arts and Sciences.

  • True Enough

    True Enough

    Catherine Z. Elgin

    The development of an epistemology that explains how science and art embody and convey understanding.

    Philosophy valorizes truth, holding that there can never be epistemically good reasons to accept a known falsehood, or to accept modes of justification that are not truth conducive. How can this stance account for the epistemic standing of science, which unabashedly relies on models, idealizations, and thought experiments that are known not to be true? In True Enough, Catherine Elgin argues that we should not assume that the inaccuracy of models and idealizations constitutes an inadequacy. To the contrary, their divergence from truth or representational accuracy fosters their epistemic functioning. When effective, models and idealizations are, Elgin contends, felicitous falsehoods that exemplify features of the phenomena they bear on. Because works of art deploy the same sorts of felicitous falsehoods, she argues, they also advance understanding.

    Elgin develops a holistic epistemology that focuses on the understanding of broad ranges of phenomena rather than knowledge of individual facts. Epistemic acceptability, she maintains, is a matter not of truth-conduciveness, but of what would be reflectively endorsed by the members of an idealized epistemic community—a quasi-Kantian realm of epistemic ends.

    • Hardcover $35.00 £28.00

Contributor

  • Knowledge and Skepticism, Volume 5

    Knowledge and Skepticism, Volume 5

    Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke, and Harry S. Silverstein

    New essays by leading philosophers explore topics in epistemology, offering both contemporary philosophical analysis and historical perspectives.

    There are two main questions in epistemology: What is knowledge? And: Do we have any of it? The first question asks after the nature of a concept; the second involves grappling with the skeptic, who believes that no one knows anything. This collection of original essays addresses the themes of knowledge and skepticism, offering both contemporary epistemological analysis and historical perspectives from leading philosophers and rising scholars. Contributors first consider knowledge: the intrinsic nature of knowledge—in particular, aspects of what distinguishes knowledge from true belief; the extrinsic examination of knowledge, focusing on contextualist accounts; and types of knowledge, specifically perceptual, introspective, and rational knowledge. The final chapters offer various perspectives on skepticism. Knowledge and Skepticism provides an eclectic yet coherent set of essays by distinguished scholars and important new voices. The cutting-edge nature of its contributions and its interdisciplinary character make it a valuable resource for a wide audience—for philosophers of language as well as for epistemologists, and for psychologists, decision theorists, historians, and students at both the advanced undergraduate and graduate levels.

    Contributors Kent Bach, Joseph Keim Campbell, Joseph Cruz, Fred Dretske, Catherine Z. Elgin, Peter S. Fosl, Peter J. Graham, David Hemp, Michael O'Rourke, George Pappas, John L. Pollock, Duncan Pritchard, Joseph Salerno, Robert J. Stainton, Harry S. Silverstein, Joseph Thomas Tolliver, Leora Weitzman

    • Hardcover $15.75 £12.99
    • Paperback $8.75 £6.99