The Value of Knowledge and the Value of Understanding

Martin Nuhlíček


The view that knowledge is valuable is a key assumption in epistemology. In its classical form it is expressed as the comparative claim that knowledge is more valuable than true belief. However, various theoretical attempts to explain the value of knowledge have not been definitively successful.  A major obstacle is the so-called swamping problem, which results in the conclusion that no constituent of knowledge beyond true belief can be a source of the value of knowledge. Some authors, therefore, turn attention to the phenomenon of understanding, which is referred to as the primary epistemic value, and the exploration of the value of knowledge is put aside. In this situation, it is possible to address the problem by rejecting the assumption that the explanation of the value of knowledge must be universal. This opens up space for pluralistic conceptions that attribute different values to different kinds of knowledge.


Meno problem; pluralism of values; swamping problem; understanding; value of knowledge; virtue epistemology

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Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
ISSN: 1212-9097