‘Understanding Progress, in Science and Beyond’ is a three-year project based at the University of Iceland. The project is generously funded by the Icelandic Research Fund and hosted by RANNÍS, the Icelandic Centre for Research.

The main objectives of this project are (i) to develop and evaluate a novel understanding-based account of scientific progress, and (ii) to explore the prospects for extending this account to philosophical progress.

The proposed understanding-based 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 understanding-based proposed account holds, roughly, that science and philosophy make progress precisely when they increase our understanding of the relevant phenomena. This account, which was first sketched with regard to scientific progress in recent publications by the project’s PI Finnur Dellsén, will serve as the central working hypothesis for the project. 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.

Please find a detailed project description here.