Knowledge-How, True Indexical Belief, and Action

Philosophical Studies 164 (2):341-355 (2013)
Abstract
Intellectualism is the doctrine that knowing how to do something consists in knowing that something is the case. Drawing on contemporary linguistic theories of indirect questions, Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson have recently revived intellectualism, proposing to interpret a sentence of the form ‘s knows how to F’ as ascribing to s knowledge of a certain way w of Fing that she can F in w. In order to preserve knowledgehow’s connection to action and thus avoid an overgeneration problem, they add that this knowledge must be had under a “practical” mode of presentation of w. I argue that (i) there can be non-knowledgeable true beliefs under a practical mode of presentation and that (ii) some such beliefs would nevertheless be sufficient to establish knowledge-how’s characteristic connection to action, and thus count as knowledge-how. If so, Stanley & Williamson’s account is faced with a serious undergeneration problem. Moreover, the structural features on which the argument relies make it likely to present a quite general challenge for intellectualist strategies
Keywords Action  Indexical belief  Indirect interrogatives  Intellectualism  Knowledge-how  Modes of presentation
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