This introductory essay to the special issue on ‘understanding without explanation’ provides a review of the debate in philosophy of science concerning the relation between scientific explanation and understanding, and an overview of the themes addressed in the papers included in this issue. In recent years, the traditional consensus that understanding is a philosophically irrelevant by-product of scientific explanations has given way to a lively debate about the relation between understanding and explanation. The papers in this issue defend or challenge the idea that understanding is a cognitive achievement in its own right, rather than simply a derivative or side-effect of scientific explanations.
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