Knowledge-how, Understanding-why and Epistemic Luck: an Experimental Study

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (4):701-734 (2019)
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Abstract

Reductive intellectualists about knowledge-how hold, contra Ryle, that knowing how to do something is just a kind of propositional knowledge. In a similar vein, traditional reductivists about understanding-why insist, in accordance with a tradition beginning with Aristotle, that the epistemic standing one attains when one understands why something is so is itself just a kind of propositional knowledge—viz., propositional knowledge of causes. A point that has been granted on both sides of these debates is that if these reductive proposals are right, then knowledge-how and understanding-why should be susceptible to the same extent as knowledge-that is to being undermined by epistemic luck. This paper reports experimental results that test these luck-based predictions. Interestingly, these results suggest a striking positive correlation between self-reported philosophical expertise and attributions of knowledge-how, understanding-why and knowledge-that which run contrary to reductive proposals. We contextualize these results by showing how they align very well with a particular kind of overarching non-reductive proposal, one that two of the authors have defended elsewhere according to which knowledge-how and understanding-why, but not knowledge-that, essentially involve cognitive achievement. We conclude by situating the interpretive narrative advanced within contemporary discussions about the role of expertise in philosophical judgment.

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Author Profiles

J. Adam Carter
University of Glasgow
Duncan Pritchard
University of California, Irvine
Joshua Shepherd
Carleton University

Citations of this work

Knowing How.Yuri Cath - 2019 - Analysis 79 (3):487-503.
Intuitive Expertise in Moral Judgments.Joachim Horvath & Alex Wiegmann - 2022 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (2):342-359.
Knowledge How.Jeremy Fantl - 2012 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Skills as Knowledge.Carlotta Pavese & Beddor Bob - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-16.
Metaepistemology.J. Adam Carter & Ernest Sosa - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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