Knowledge-how, Linguistic Intellectualism, and Ryle's Return

In Stefan Tolksdorf (ed.), Conceptions of Knowledge. De Gruyter. pp. 269-304 (2011)
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How should we understand knowledge-how – knowledge how to do something? And how is it related to knowledge-that – knowledge that something is the case? In this paper, I will discuss a very important and influential aspect of this question, namely the claim – dubbed ‘Intellectualism’ by Gilbert Ryle – that knowledge-how can be reduced to knowledge-that. Recently, Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson have tried to establish Intellectualism with the aid of linguistic considerations. This project – Linguistic Intellectualism – will be criticized on three levels. First, I will reconstruct and object to Stanley and Williamson’s positive argument in favour of Intellectualism. Second, I will assess their view of the relationship between knowledge-how and practical ability and argue that their stance is not well-motivated. Third, I will discuss their criticism of Ryle’s objection against Intellectualism. After distinguishing between different versions of Ryle’s argument, I will show that its strongest version is both immune to the objection by Stanley and Williamson and a decisive argument against their own theory. Given that Intellectualism fails for these three reasons, I finally draw on a broader reading of Ryle in order to develop the beginnings of a positive account of knowledge-how and its relationship to knowledge-that.



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Author's Profile

David Löwenstein
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

References found in this work

Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1950 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 1 (4):328-332.
What Mary Didn't Know.Frank Jackson - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (5):291-295.
What The Tortoise Said To Achilles.Lewis Carroll - 1895 - Mind 104 (416):691-693.
Knowing How and Knowing That: The Presidential Address.Gilbert Ryle - 1946 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 46:1 - 16.

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