Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Colloquium (11/4): Stephen Grimm, "How Understanding Human Beings Differs from Understanding the Natural World"

Stephen Grimm, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University

Professor Grimm

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 4:30pm  » Willard Smith Library, Vaughan Literature Building

Abstract: When we try to understand the natural world, we often appeal to things like causes or mechanisms or laws. But what happens when we try to understand other people? Do we need to appeal to something different—perhaps to notions like values or goods? I will consider a few ways in which philosophers have claimed that there is something distinctive when it comes to understanding human beings, and argue that these attempts have fallen short in various respects. I will then offer my own view about how understanding human beings differs from understanding the natural world.


Professor Grimm specializes in epistemology, the philosophy of science, and value theory. Since July of 2013 he has led a three-year $4.5 million dollar project on the nature of understanding, supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, with additional support from the Henry Luce Foundation.  The project examines the various ways in which human beings understand the world, how these ways of understanding might be improved, and how they might be combined to produce an integrated understanding of the world.  More details can be found at the website for The Varieties of Understanding project: www.varietiesofunderstanding.com.

This event is co-sponsored by the Philosophy Department and the Production of Public Understanding of Science project, which is itself funded by Professor Grimm's Varieties of Understanding project!