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Knowing how to

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-P062-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2021
Retrieved June 18, 2024, from

Article Summary

Knowledge attributions of the form ‘knowledge-how to’ (or ‘know-how’ for short) seem to relate agents to action types, in contrast to ‘knowledge-that’ attributions, which relate them to true propositions. Given the connection of know-how with representation and truth is not evident, many have assumed that it is not an object of genuine epistemic concern. There are two ways to overcome this impasse and envisage an epistemology of know-how. The first one is intellectualism, and it holds that know-how is propositional knowledge after all. The second one is anti-intellectualism, and it holds that knowledge, as such, is not always oriented towards forming true representations. The topic of know-how is associated with Gilbert Ryle (1945 – 46, 1949), champion of anti-intellectualism, but what sparked the contemporary debate on the topic was Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson’s (2001) intellectualists account. Highly contested for methodological and exegetical reasons, that proposal was followed by a number of theoretical alternatives on both the intellectualist and the anti-intellectualist side. Besides this debate, the issue of know-how challenges us with two distinct and hardly reconcilable desiderata: one related to skill and the other to rationality.

Citing this article:
Navarro, Jesús. Knowing how to, 2021, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-P062-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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