About this topic
Summary "Knowing-Wh" is intended to cover knowing who(m), knowing what, knowing which, knowing when, knowing why, etc. (Standardly, knowing how is included, but this has its own category on PhilPapers.) Sometimes, "knowing whether" is counted as well; [knowing + DP] and [knowing + INF] are also closely related. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in knowing-wh, given the recent "intellectualism" debate on knowing how. An analogous yet broader "intellectualism" debate is occurring with knowing-wh, and a related discussion on whether a unified account of knowing-wh is even possible. In addition, other interesting issues arise concerning knowing-wh, especially on the context-sensitivity of knowing-wh ascriptions.
Key works The work in formal semantics on "knowing-wh" starts with Hamblin 1958. But the early works regularly cited are Karttunen 1977 and Groenendijk & Stokhof 1982. These are good examples of what Schaffer 2007 calls "orthodox reductionism" about knowing-wh, though Schaffer provides an important attack on such views.  The first serious attempt to accomodate the context-sensitivity of knowing-wh was Boër & Lycan 1975 and the book-length version Boër & Lycan 1986. Braun 2006 has recently argued, however, that the context-sensitivity should be accommodated by Gricean pragmatics, rather than by Boer and Lycan's semantic parameter. But see DeRose 2009, ch. 2 appendix, for a rejoinder.  Finally, knowing-wh is standardly given an "intellectualist" account, akin to the view of knowing how in Willlamson 2001. Ginzburg 1995 and Ginzburg 1995 attacks this view of knowing-wh, but  Stanley 2011 in his chapter 2 has offered an important reply to Ginzburg. For an alternative "intellectualist" account that accomodates even more linguistic phenomena, see Brogaard 2011.
Introductions Parent 2014 gives an overview of three current debates on knowing-wh. Higginbotham 1996 provides good coverage of some of the background issues and related matters.
Related categories

64 found
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  1. Alternative Questions and Knowledge Attributions.Maria Aloni & Paul Égré - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (238):1-27.
    We discuss the 'problem of convergent knowledge', an argument presented by J. Schaffer in favour of contextualism about knowledge attributions, and against the idea that knowledge- wh can be simply reduced to knowledge of the proposition answering the question. Schaffer's argument centrally involves alternative questions of the form 'whether A or B'. We propose an analysis of these on which the problem of convergent knowledge does not arise. While alternative questions can contextually restrict the possibilities relevant for knowledge attributions, what (...)
  2. Knowing Whether A or B.Maria Aloni, Paul Égré & Tikitu de Jager - 2013 - Synthese 190 (14):2595-2621.
    The paper examines the logic and semantics of knowledge attributions of the form “s knows whether A or B”. We analyze these constructions in an epistemic logic with alternative questions, and propose an account of the context-sensitivity of the corresponding sentences and of their presuppositions.
  3. Interpreting Concealed Questions.Maria Aloni & Floris Roelofsen - 2011 - Linguistics and Philosophy 34 (5):443-478.
    Concealed questions are determiner phrases that are naturally paraphrased as embedded questions (e.g., John knows the capital of Italy ≈ John knows what the capital of Italy is). This paper offers a novel account of the interpretation of concealed questions, which assumes that an entity-denoting expression α may be type-shifted into an expression ?z.P(α), where P is a contextually determined property, and z ranges over a contextually determined domain of individual concepts. Different resolutions of P and the domain of z (...)
  4. Applying Pragmatics to Epistemology.Kent Bach - 2008 - Philosophical Issues 18 (1):68-88.
    This paper offers a smattering of applications of pragmatics to epistemology. In most cases they concern recent epistemological claims that depend for their plausibility on mistaking something pragmatic for something semantic. After giving my formulation of the semantic/pragmatic distinction and explaining how seemingly semantic intuitions can be responsive to pragmatic factors, I take up the following topics: 1. Classic Examples of Confusing Meaning and Use 2. Pragmatic Implications of Hedging or Intensifying an Assertion 3. Belief Attributions 4. Knowledge-wh 5. The (...)
  5. A Paradox of Knowing Whether.John A. Barker - 1975 - Mind 84 (334):281-283.
  6. Two-Dimensionalism and the “Knowing Which” Requirement.Hagit Benbaji - 2008 - Acta Analytica 23 (1):55-67.
    Two-dimensional semantics aims to eliminate the puzzle of necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori truths. Recently many argue that even assuming two-dimensional semantics we are left with the puzzle of necessary and a posteriori propositions. Stephen Yablo (Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 81, 98–122, 2000) and Penelope Mackie (Analysis, 62(3), 225–236, 2002) argue that a plausible sense of “knowing which” lets us know the object of such a proposition, and yet its necessity is “hidden” and thus a posteriori. This paper answers (...)
  7. Epistemology Personalized.Matthew A. Benton - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (269):813-834.
    Recent epistemology has focused almost exclusively on propositional knowledge. This paper considers an underexplored area of epistemology, namely knowledge of persons: if propositional knowledge is a state of mind, consisting in a subject's attitude to a (true) proposition, the account developed here thinks of interpersonal knowledge as a state of minds, involving a subject's attitude to another (existing) subject. This kind of knowledge is distinct from propositional knowledge, but it exhibits a gradability characteristic of context-sensitivity, and admits of shifty thresholds. (...)
  8. Norms, Reasons and Reasoning: A Guide Through Lewis Carroll’s Regress Argument.Corine Besson - 2016 - In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity.
    This paper concerns connection between knowing or accepting a logical principle such as Modus Ponens and actions of reasoning involving it. Discussions of this connection typically mention the so-called ‘Lewis Carroll Regress’ and there is near consensus that the regress shows something important about it. Also, although the regress explicitly concerns logic, many philosophers think that it establishes a more general truth, about the structurally similar connection between epistemic or practical principles and actions involving them. This paper’s first aim is (...)
  9. Cross-Linguistic Semantics for Questions.Maria Bittner - 1998 - Linguistics and Philosophy 21 (1):1-82.
    : The Hamblin-Karttunen approach has led to many insights about questions in English. In this article the results of this rule-by-rule tradition are reconsidered from a crosslinguistic perspective. Starting from the type-driven XLS theory developed in Bittner (1994a, b), it is argued that evidence from simple questions (in English, Polish, Lakhota and Warlpiri) leads to certain revisions. The revised XLS theory then immediately generalizes to complex questions — including scope marking (Hindi), questions with quantifiers (English) and multiple wh-questions (English, Hindi, (...)
  10. Knowing Who.Steven E. Boër & William G. Lycan - 1975 - Philosophical Studies 28 (5):299 - 344.
  11. Knowing Who.Steven Boër & William Lycan - 1986 - MIT Press.
  12. Now You Know Who Hong Oak Yun Is.David Braun - 2006 - Philosophical Issues 16 (1):24-42.
    Hong Oak Yun is a person who is over three inches tall. And now you know who Hong Oak Yun is. For if someone were to ask you ‘Who is Hong Oak Yun?’, you could answer that Hong Oak Yun is a person who is over three inches tall, and you would know what you were saying. So you know an answer to the question ‘Who is Hong Oak Yun?’, and that is sufficient for knowing who Hong Oak Yun is. (...)
  13. What Mary Did Yesterday: Reflections on Knowledge-Wh.Berit Brogaard - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2):439 - 467.
    Reductionists about knowledge-wh hold that "s knows-wh" (e.g. "John knows who stole his car") is reducible to "there is a proposition p such that s knows that p, and p answers the indirect question of the wh-clause." Anti-reductionists hold that "s knows-wh" is reducible to "s knows that p, as the true answer to the indirect question of the wh-clause." I argue that both of these positions are defective. I then offer a new analysis of knowledge-wh as a special kind (...)
  14. Doing Without Believing: Intellectualism, Knowledge-How, and Belief-Attribution.Michael Brownstein & Eliot Michaelson - 2016 - Synthese 193 (9):2815–2836.
    We consider a range of cases—both hypothetical and actual—in which agents apparently know how to \ but fail to believe that the way in which they in fact \ is a way for them to \. These “no-belief” cases present a prima facie problem for Intellectualism about knowledge-how. The problem is this: if knowledge-that entails belief, and if knowing how to \ just is knowing that some w is a way for one to \, then an agent cannot both know (...)
  15. A Critical Introduction to Knowledge-How.J. Adam Carter & Ted Poston - 2018 - Bloomsbury Academic.
    We know facts, but we also know how to do things. To know a fact is to know that a proposition is true. But does knowing how to ride a bike amount to knowledge of propositions? This is a challenging question and one that deeply divides the contemporary landscape. A Critical Introduction to Knowledge-How introduces, outlines, and critically evaluates various contemporary debates surrounding the nature of knowledge-how. Carter and Poston show that situating the debate over the nature of knowledge-how in (...)
  16. Knowledge‐How and Cognitive Achievement.J. Adam Carter & Duncan Pritchard - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (1):181-199.
    According to reductive intellectualism, knowledge-how just is a kind of propositional knowledge (e.g., Stanley & Williamson 2001; Stanley 2011a, 2011b; Brogaard, 2008a, 2008b, 2009, 2011, 2009, 2011). This proposal has proved controversial because knowledge-how and propositional knowledge do not seem to share the same epistemic properties, particularly with regard to epistemic luck. Here we aim to move the argument forward by offering a positive account of knowledge-how. In particular, we propose a new kind of anti-intellectualism. Unlike neo-Rylean anti-intellectualist views, according (...)
  17. Knowing What It is Like and Testimony.Yuri Cath - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-16.
    It is often said that ‘what it is like’-knowledge cannot be acquired by consulting testimony or reading books [Lewis 1998; Paul 2014; 2015a]. However, people also routinely consult books like What It Is Like to Go to War [Marlantes 2014], and countless ‘what it is like’ articles and youtube videos, in the apparent hope of gaining knowledge about what it is like to have experiences they have not had themselves. This article examines this puzzle and tries to solve it by (...)
  18. Intellectualism and Testimony.Yuri Cath - 2017 - Analysis 77 (2):1-9.
    Knowledge-how often appears to be more difficult to transmit by testimony than knowledge-that and knowledge-wh. Some philosophers have argued that this difference provides us with an important objection to intellectualism—the view that knowledge-how is a species of knowledge-that. This article defends intellectualism against these testimony-based objections.
  19. A Practical Guide to Intellectualism.Yuri Cath - 2008 - Dissertation, Australian National University
    In this thesis I examine the view—known as intellectualism—that knowledge-how is a kind of knowledge-that, or propositional knowledge. I examine issues concerning both the status of this view of knowledge-how and the philosophical implications if it is true. The ability hypothesis is an important position in the philosophy of mind that appeals to Gilbert Ryle’s famous idea that there is a fundamental distinction between knowledge-how and knowledge-that. This position appears to be inconsistent with the truth of intellectualism. However, I demonstrate (...)
  20. The Epistemology of Understanding.Neil Cooper - 1995 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 38 (3):205 – 215.
    My principal aims are to question the conventional wisdom on two points. First, it argues that cognitive understanding is neither identical with nor reducible to knowledge?why, and that it is a multiform capacity which adds value to knowledge, true belief, and human creative activity. Essential to understanding is epistemic ascent, the rising above bare knowledge, to assess, appraise, compare, contrast, emphasize, connect and so on. Different modes of understanding are distinguished and an accompanying vocabulary of mode?indicators (expressing Fregean ?colour'). Second, (...)
  21. Knowledge-How (Reference Entry).Bolesław Czarnecki - 2016 - Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy.
    The entry is intended as an advanced introduction to the topic of knowledge-how. It starts with a list of overviews, monographs and collections, followed by selected 20th century discussions. The last two sections contain sources pertaining to Ryle's own work on the topic as well as work by other influential thinkers, and themes that are sometimes associated with knowledge-how. The remaining seven sections survey the contemporary literature on knowledge-how from three perspectives: (i) generic desiderata for accounts of knowledge-how, (ii) specific (...)
  22. Knowing What You Think Vs. Knowing That You Think It.Fred Dretske - 2004 - In Richard Schantz (ed.), The Externalist Challenge. De Gruyter.
  23. Practical Know‐Wh.Katalin Farkas - 2017 - Noûs 51 (4):855-870.
    The central and paradigmatic cases of knowledge discussed in philosophy involve the possession of truth. Is there in addition a distinct type of practical knowledge, which does not aim at the truth? This question is often approached through asking whether states attributed by “know-how” locutions are distinct from states attributed by “know-that”. This paper argues that the question of practical knowledge can be raised not only about some cases of “know-how” attributions, but also about some cases of so-called “know-wh” attributions; (...)
  24. Know-Wh Does Not Reduce to Know That.Katalin Farkas - 2016 - American Philosophical Quarterly 53 (2):109-122.
    Know -wh ascriptions are ubiquitous in many languages. One standard analysis of know -wh is this: someone knows-wh just in case she knows that p, where p is an answer to the question included in the wh-clause. Additional conditions have also been proposed, but virtually all analyses assume that propositional knowledge of an answer is at least a necessary condition for knowledge-wh. This paper challenges this assumption, by arguing that there are cases where we have knowledge-wh without knowledge- that of (...)
  25. Question‐Directed Attitudes.Jane Friedman - 2013 - Philosophical Perspectives 27 (1):145-174.
    In this paper I argue that there is a class of attitudes that have questions (rather than propositions or something else) as contents.
  26. Relevant Answers to WH-Questions.Helen Gaylard & Allan Ramsay - 2004 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 13 (2):173-186.
    We consider two issues relating to WH-questions:(i) when you ask aWH-question you already have a description of the entity you are interested in,namely the description embodied in the question itself. You may evenhave very direct access to the entity – see (1) below.In general, what you want is an alternative description of some item thatyou already know a certain amount about.
  27. Knowledge-How, Abilities, and Questions.Joshua Habgood-Coote - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:00-00.
    The debate about the nature of knowledge-how is standardly thought to be divided between intellectualist views, which take knowledge-how to be a kind of propositional knowledge, and anti-intellectualist views, which take knowledge-how to be a kind of ability. In this paper, I explore a compromise position—the interrogative capacity view—which claims that knowing how to do something is a certain kind of ability to generate answers to the question of how to do it. This view combines the intellectualist thesis that knowledge-how (...)
  28. Knowledge-How: Interrogatives and Free Relatives.Joshua Habgood-Coote - 2018 - Episteme 15 (2):183-201.
    It has been widely accepted since Stanley and Williamson (2001) that the only linguistically acceptable semantic treatments for sentences of the form ‘S knows how to V’ involve treating the wh-complement ‘how to V’ as an interrogative phrase, denoting a set of propositions. Recently a number of authors have suggested that the ‘how to V’ phrase denotes not a proposition, but an object. This view points toward a prima facie plausible non-propositional semantics for knowledge-how, which treats ‘how to V’ as (...)
  29. The Generality Problem for Intellectualism.Joshua Habgood‐Coote - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (3):242-262.
    According to Intellectualism knowing how to V is a matter of knowing a suitable proposition about a way of V-ing. In this paper, I consider the question of which ways of acting might figure in the propositions which Intellectualists claim constitute the object of knowledge-how. I argue that Intellectualists face a version of the Generality Problem – familiar from discussions of Reliabilism – since not all ways of V-ing are such that knowledge about them suffices for knowledge-how. I consider various (...)
  30. Transparent Knowledge Once Again.Jaakko Hintikka - 1973 - Philosophical Studies 24 (2):125 - 127.
  31. Meaning, Understanding, and Knowing-What: An Indian Grammarian Notion of Intuition (Pratibha).Chien-Hsing Ho - 2014 - Philosophy East and West 64 (2):404-424.
    For Bhartrhari, a fifth-century Indian grammarian-philosopher, all conscious beings—beasts, birds and humans—are capable of what he called pratibha, a flash of indescribable intuitive understanding such that one knows what the present object “means” and what to do with it. Such an understanding, if correct, amounts to a mode of knowing that may best be termed knowing-what, to distinguish it from both knowing-that and knowing-how. This paper attempts to expound Bhartrhari’s conception of pratibha in relation to the notions of meaning, understanding, (...)
  32. The Philosophy of Curiosity.Ilhan Inan - 2011 - Routledge.
    In this book, Ilhan Inan questions the classical definition of curiosity as _a desire to know._ Working in an area where epistemology and philosophy of language overlap, Inan forges a link between our ability to become aware of our ignorance and our linguistic aptitude to construct terms referring to things unknown. The book introduces the notion of inostensible reference. Ilhan connects this notion to related concepts in philosophy of language: knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description; the referential and the (...)
  33. Metamerism, Constancy, and Knowing Which.Mark Eli Kalderon - 2008 - Mind 117 (468):549-585.
    When Norm perceives a red tomato in his garden, Norm perceives the tomato and its sensible qualities.
  34. Knowledge-Wh and the Problem of Convergent Knowledge.Jesper Kallestrup - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2):468-476.
    Call knowledge where so-and-so, knowledge who so-and-so, etc., knowledge-wh. The reductive view says that knowledge-wh reduces to the two-place knowledge relation Ksp. Schaffer argues that this view has no viable response to the problem of convergent knowledge: how can a knowing-wh ascription be reduced to a Ksp ascription if a second knowing-wh ascription intuitively inequivalent to the first can be reduced to the same Ksp ascription? Instead he suggests that knowledge-wh be understood as a three-place knowledge relation Kspq, where q (...)
  35. For a Structured Meaning Account of Questions and Answers.Manfred Krifka - 2001 - In Audiatur Vox Sapientia. A Festschrift for Arnim von Stechow. Academie Verlag. pp. 287-320.
    In the logical, philosophical and linguistic literature, a number of theoretical frameworks have been proposed for the meaning of questions (see Ginzburg (1995), Groenendijk & Stokhof (1997) for recent overviews). I will concentrate on two general approaches that figured prominently in linguistic semantics, which I will call the proposition set approach and the structured meaning approach (sometimes called the “propositional” and the “categorial” or “functional” approach). I will show that the proposition set approach runs into three problems: It does not (...)
  36. Knowing Your Ability.Tszyuen Lau & Yanjing Wang - 2016 - Philosophical Forum 47 (3-4):415-423.
    In this article, we present an attempt to reconcile intellectualism and the anti-intellectualist ability account of knowledge-how by reducing “S knows how to F” to, roughly speaking, “S knows that she has the ability to F demonstrated by a concrete way w.” More precisely, “S has a certain ability” is further formalized as the proposition that S can guarantee a certain goal by a concrete way w of some method under some precondition. Having the knowledge of our own ability, we (...)
  37. 'Whether' Report.David Lewis - 1982 - In Tom Pauli (ed.), 320311: Philosophical Essays Dedicated to Lennart Åqvist on His Fiftieth Birthday. University of Uppsala Press. pp. 194-206.
  38. Knowledge and Questions: Grazer Philosophische Studien 77.Franck Lihoreau (ed.) - 2008 - Rodopi.
    Contributors: Maria Aloni, Berit Brogaard, Paul Egré, Pascal Engel, Stephen Hetherington, Christopher Hookway, Franck Lihoreau, Martin Montminy, Duncan Pritchard, Ian Rumfitt, Daniele Sgaravatti, Claudine Tiercelin, Elia Zardini.
  39. Regresse und Routinen. Repliken auf Brandt und Jung.David Löwenstein - 2018 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 72 (1):110-113.
    This paper responds to comments and criticisms by Stefan Brandt and Eva-Maria Jung, directed at the book "Know-how as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account".
  40. Précis zu Know-how as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account.David Löwenstein - 2018 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 72 (1):95-99.
    This is a précis of my book "Know-how as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account".
  41. Know-How as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account.David Löwenstein - 2017 - Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann.
    What does it mean to know how to do something? This book develops a comprehensive account of know-how, a crucial epistemic goal for all who care about getting things right, not only with respect to the facts, but also with respect to practice. It proposes a novel interpretation of the seminal work of Gilbert Ryle, according to which know-how is a competence, a complex ability to do well in an activity in virtue of guidance by an understanding of what it (...)
  42. Questions, Answers, and Knowledge- Wh.Meghan Masto - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 147 (3):395-413.
    Various authors have attempted to understand knowledge-wh—or knowledge ascriptions that include an interrogative complement. I present and explain some of the analyses offered so far and argue that each view faces some problems. I then present and explain a newanalysis of knowledge-wh that avoids these problems and that offers several other advantages. Finally I raise some problems for invariantism about knowledge-wh and I argue thatcontextualism about knowledge-wh fits nicely with a very natural understanding of the nature of questions.
  43. Narrative Representation and Phenomenological Knowledge.Rafe McGregor - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (2):327-342.
    The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that narrative representations can provide knowledge in virtue of their narrativity, regardless of their truth value. I set out the question in section 1, distinguishing narrative cognitivism from aesthetic cognitivism and narrative representations from non-narrative representations. Sections 2 and 3 argue that exemplary narratives can provide lucid phenomenological knowledge, which appears to meet both the epistemic and narrativity criteria for the narrative cognitivist thesis. In section 4, I turn to non-narrative representation, focusing (...)
  44. Belief De Re, Knowing Who, and Singular Thought.Michaelis Michael - 2010 - Journal of Philosophy 107 (6):293-310.
  45. Knowing What I'm Thinking Of--I.Ruth G. Millikan - 1993 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 67 (67):91-108.
  46. Who Am I?Adam Morton - 1990 - Cogito 4 (3):186-191.
    This is a popularisation of ideas current when it was written, on personal identity and the concept of a person, making a link with problems about 'knowing who' on the border of epistemology and the philosophy of language.
  47. Self-Reflection for the Opaque Mind: An Essay in Neo-Sellarsian Philosophy.T. Parent - 2017 - New York: Routledge.
    _Self-Reflection for the Opaque Mind_ attempts to solve a grave problem about critical self-reflection. Psychological studies indicate not just that we are bad at detecting our own "ego-threatening" thoughts; they also suggest that we are ignorant of even our ordinary thoughts. However, self-reflection presupposes an ability to know one’s own thoughts. So if ignorance is the norm, why attempt self-reflection? While admitting the psychological data, this book argues that we are infallible in a limited range of self-discerning judgments—that in some (...)
  48. Externalism and “Knowing What” One Thinks.T. Parent - 2015 - Synthese 192 (5):1337-1350.
    Some worry that semantic externalism is incompatible with knowing by introspection what content your thoughts have. In this paper, I examine one primary argument for this incompatibilist worry, the slow-switch argument. Following Goldberg , I construe the argument as attacking the conjunction of externalism and “skeptic immune” knowledge of content, where such knowledge would persist in a skeptical context. Goldberg, following Burge :649–663, 1988), attempts to reclaim such knowledge for the externalist; however, I contend that all Burge-style accounts vindicate that (...)
  49. Knowing‐Wh and Embedded Questions.T. Parent - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (2):81-95.
    Do you know who you are? If the question seems unclear, it might owe to the notion of ‘knowing-wh’ (knowing-who, knowing-what, knowing-when, etc.). Such knowledge contrasts with ‘knowing-that’, the more familiar topic of epistemologists. But these days, knowing-wh is receiving more attention than ever, and here we will survey three current debates on the nature of knowing-wh. These debates concern, respectively, (1) whether all knowing-wh is reducible to knowing-that (‘generalized intellectualism’), (2) whether all knowing-wh is relativized to a contrast proposition (...)
  50. Knowing a Rule.Carlotta Pavese - 2015 - Philosophical Issues 25 (1):165-188.
    In this essay, I provide a new argument for Intellectualism about knowing how, one that does not rest on controversial assumptions about how knowing how is ascribed in English. In particular, I argue that the distinctive intentionality of the manifestations of knowing how ought to be explained in terms of a propositional attitude of belief about how to perform an action.
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