Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Philosophy


Philosophy and Religion

First Advisor

Robert Barnard

Second Advisor

Robert Westmoreland

Third Advisor

Donovan Wishon

Relational Format



Is understanding a unique kind of epistemic state or simply another word for knowledge? Recently, there is a dispute in the literature between those, non-reductionists, who argue that we cannot reduce understanding to knowledge. Sliwa and Khalifa, two reductionists, on the other hand, argue that understanding is basically just another word for knowledge (if we are fairly comparing the two). After considering the dialectic between non-reductionists and reductionists, undogmatically, I argue that Sliwa's arguments in favor of reductionism fail. Sliwa's analytical argument in defense of reductionism is unsuccessful because a special kind of understanding, subjective understanding, can be independent of knowledge. And, Sliwa's background argument in defense of reductionism fails because there can be epistemic asymmetries in skeptical scenarios. So, my thesis is that understanding is not necessarily reducible to knowledge. After all, a certain kind of understanding, subjective understanding, is both non-factive and compatible with certain kinds of epistemic luck, unlike knowledge. Understanding, in a sense, is unique.

Included in

Epistemology Commons



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