The notion of a non-sensory mental state or event that plays a prominent role in coming to understand, an epistemic achievement distinct from mere knowledge, featured prominently in historical writings on philosophy, and philosophical methodology. It is, however, completely absent from contemporary discussions of the subject. This paper argues that intuition plays an epistemic role in understanding, including philosophical understanding, and offers an explanation of how intuition manages to play this role, if and when it does. (...) It is argued, subsequently, that this role is autonomous, in the sense that a source of understanding cannot be reduced to a source of justification, evidence, or reason. Finally, it is noted that such autonomy implies that popular forms of skepticism about intuition do not impugn intuition’s epistemic significance with respect to its status as a source of understanding. (shrink)
Some things we can know just by thinking about them: for example, that identity is transitive, that Gettier’s Smith does not know that the man who will get the job has ten coins in his pockets, that the ratio between two and six holds also between one and three, that it is wrong to wantonly torture innocent sentient beings, and various other things that simply strikeus, intuitively, as true when we consider them. The question is how : how can we (...) know things just by thinking about them? (shrink)
Intuition is sometimes derided as an abstruse or esoteric phenomenon akin to crystal-ball gazing. Such derision appears to be fuelled primarily by the suggestion, evidently endorsed by traditional rationalists such as Plato and Descartes, that intuition is a kind of direct, immediate apprehension akin to perception. This paper suggests that although the perceptual analogy has often been dismissed as encouraging a theoretically useless metaphor, a quasi-perceptualist view of intuition may enable rationalists to begin to meet the challenge of supplying a (...) theoretically satisfying treatment of their favoured epistemic source. It is argued, first, that intuitions and perceptual experiences are at a certain level of abstraction the same type of mental state, presentations, which are distinct from beliefs, hunches, inclinations, attractions, and seemings. The notion of a presentation is given a positive explication, which identifies its characteristic features, accounts for several of its substantive psychological roles, and systematically locates it in a threefold division among types of contentful states. Subsequently, it is argued that presentations, intuitive no less than sensory, are by their nature poised to play a distinctive epistemic role. Specifically, in the case of intuition, we encounter an intellectual state that is so structured as to provide justification without requiring justification in turn—something which may, thus, be thought of as ‘given’. (shrink)
Whither the philosophy of intuition?Herman Cappelen’s Philosophy Without Intuitions (PWI) is a novel study in philosophical sociology—or, as Cappelen at one point suggests, “intellectual anthropology” (96).All undated references are to Cappelen (2012). Its target is the thesis that intuition is central, in the descriptive sense that contemporary analytic philosophers rely on intuitions for evidence—or, more generally, positive epistemic status. Cappelen labels the target thesis Centrality.If Centrality is true, then especially urgent are two questions in the rapidly growing field that is (...) the philosophy of intuition:[Q1] What are intuitions?[Q2] Can intuitions serve as evidence?There are of course others, but in chapter one Cappelen singles out these two as The Burning Questions about intuition. He then summarizes the overall upshot of PWI as follows:In this book I argue that Centrality, on any reasonable interpretation, is false. If you share that view, the Burning Questions will no lo .. (shrink)
An overview of philosophical work on the distinction between knowledge how and knowledge that, focusing on what it means to say that they are 'distinct', and on what is at stake in the debate between intellectualists and anti-intellectualists about knowledge how.
Conceptualism is the thesis that, for any perceptual experience E, (i) E has a Fregean proposition as its content and (ii) a subject of E must possess a concept for each item represented by E. We advance a framework within which conceptualism may be defended against its most serious objections (e.g., Richard Heck's argument from nonveridical experience). The framework is of independent interest for the philosophy of mind and epistemology given its implications for debates regarding transparency, relationalism and representationalism, demonstrative (...) thought, phenomenal character, and the speckled hen objection to modest foundationalism. (shrink)
Perhaps it is a pity that the Theory of Knowledge and the Theory of Conduct have fallen into separate compartments. (It certainly was not so in Socrates’ time, as his interest in the relation between eidos and technê bears witness.) If we studied them together, perhaps we might have a better understanding of both. H.H. Price, Thinking and Representation..
It has been claimed that the attempt to analyze know-how in terms of propositionalknowledge over-intellectualizes the mind. Exploiting the methods of so-called “experimental philosophy”, we show that the charge of over-intellectualization is baseless. Contra neo-Ryleans, who analyze know-how in terms of ability, the concrete-case judgments of ordinary folk are most consistent with the view that there exists a set of correct necessary and sufficient conditions for know-how that does not invoke ability, but rather a certain sort of (...)propositionalknowledge. To the extent that one’s considered judgments agree with those of the folk (or to the extent that one is unwilling to contravene widespread judgments), this constitutes a strong prima facie case against neo-Ryleanism. (shrink)
Abstract: Recent experimental research on the 'Knobe effect' suggests, somewhat surprisingly, that there is a bi-directional relation between attributions of intentional action and evaluative considerations. We defend a novel account of this phenomenon that exploits two factors: (i) an intuitive asymmetry in judgments of responsibility (e.g. praise/blame) and (ii) the fact that intentionality commonly connects the evaluative status of actions to the responsibility of actors. We present the results of several new studies that provide empirical evidence in support of this (...) account while disconfirming various currently prominent alternative accounts. We end by discussing some implications of this account for folk psychology. (shrink)
We begin with a puzzle: why do some know-how attributions entail ability attributions while others do not? After rejecting the tempting response that know-how attributions are ambiguous, we argue that a satisfactory answer to the puzzle must acknowledge the connection between know-how and concept possession (specifically, reasonable conceptual mastery, or understanding). This connection appears at first to be grounded solely in the cognitive nature of certain activities. However, we show that, contra anti-intellectualists, the connection between know-how and concept possession can (...) be generalized via reflection on the cognitive nature of intentional action and the potential of certain misunderstandings to undermine know-how even when the corresponding abilities and associated propositionalknowledge are in place. Such considerations make explicit the intimate relation between know-how and understanding, motivating a general intellectualist analysis of the former in terms of the latter. (shrink)
Philosophical discussion of the nature of know-how has focused on the relation between know-how and ability. Broadly speaking, neo-Ryleans attempt to identify know-how with a certain type of ability,1 while, traditionally, intellectualists attempt to reduce it to some form of propositional knowledge. For our purposes, however, this characterization of the debate is too crude. Instead, we prefer the following more explicit taxonomy. Anti-intellectualists, as we will use the term, maintain that knowing how to ? entails the ability to ?. Dispositionalists (...) maintain that the ability to ? is sufficient (modulo some fairly innocuous constraints) for knowing how to ?. Intellectualists, as we will use the term, deny the anti-intellectualist claim. Finally, radical intellectualists deny both the anti-intellectualist and dispositionalist claims. Pace neo-Ryleans (who in our taxonomy are those who accept both dispositionalism and anti-intellectualism), radical intellectualists maintain that the ability to ? is neither necessary nor sufficient for knowing how to ? (shrink)