Upcoming Event

Catherine Z. Elgin

presents

True Enough

This event includes a book signing

Date

Jan
26
Friday
January 26, 2018
3:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store and the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics welcome CATHERINE Z. ELGIN—Professor of the Philosophy of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education—for a discussion of her latest book, True Enough.

About True Enough

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.

Praise

"True Enough advances Catherine Elgin's pioneering endeavor to develop an epistemology consonant with the practices of science. While others see idealizations and other 'false models' as mere heuristic devices, Elgin's analysis explains how they play an ineliminable role in advancing scientific understanding. The book provides a bridge between epistemology and philosophy of science by offering important insights for contemporary debates in the philosophy of scientific practice." —Nancy J. Nersessian, Regents' Professor Emerita of Cognitive Science, Georgia Institute of Technology; author of Creating Scientific Concepts

"If the aims and methods of science baffle you, this book offers the key to unlock their mysteries. It urges nothing less than a reorientation of epistemology away from truth and toward understanding. Rather than being a collection of individual facts, science offers an understanding of a wider range of phenomena. Understanding is not factive, and divergence from truth fosters rather than hinders the epistemic goals of science. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the nature of scientific knowledge, and Elgin's provocative thesis will give food for thought to students of science for years to come." —Roman Frigg, Professor of Philosophy, London School of Economics

Catherine Z. Elgin
Catherine Z. Elgin

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.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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Event Series: Friday Forum

Harvard Book Store's Friday Forum series takes place on Friday afternoons during the academic year as a way to highlight scholarly books in a wide range of fields, with a particular focus on local scholars. Friday Forums take place at 3pm in Harvard Book Store.

Event Series: Ethics in Your World

The “Ethics in Your World” series, presented with Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, features leading thinkers taking on tough problems that matter to us all. Learn more about the Safra Center at ethics.harvard.edu.

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Featured event books will be for sale at the event for 20% off. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.
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