Case study evidence for an irreducible form of knowing how to: An argument against a reductive epistemology

Philosophia 37 (2):341-360 (2009)
Over recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in arguments favouring intellectualism—the view that Ryle’s epistemic distinction is invalid because knowing how is in fact nothing but a species of knowing that. The aim of this paper is to challenge intellectualism by introducing empirical evidence supporting a form of knowing how that resists such a reduction. In presenting a form of visuomotor pathology known as visual agnosia, I argue that certain actions performed by patient DF can be distinguished from a mere physical ability because they are (1) intentional and (2) knowledge-based; yet these actions fail to satisfy the criteria for propositional knowledge. It is therefore my contention that there exists a form of intentional action that not only constitutes a genuine claim to knowledge but, in being irreducible to knowing that, resists the intellectualist argument for exhaustive epistemic reduction.
Keywords Knowing how  Knowing that  Propositional knowledge  Reductive epistemology  Intellectualism  Visual agnosia
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-008-9169-x
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