According to a rich tradition in philosophy of action, intentional action requires practical knowledge: someone who acts intentionally knows what they are doing while they are doing it. Piñeros Glasscock argues that an anti-luminosity argument, of the sort developed in Williamson, can be readily adapted to provide a reductio of an epistemic condition on intentional action. This paper undertakes a rescue mission on behalf of an epistemic condition on intentional action. We formulate and defend a version of an epistemic condition (...) that is free from any luminosity commitments. While this version of an epistemic condition escapes reductio, it comes with substantive commitments of its own. In particular, we will see that it forces us to deny the existence of any essentially intentional actions. We go on to argue that this consequence should be embraced. On the resulting picture, intentional action is not luminous. But it still entails practical knowledge. (shrink)
This essay defends a novel form of virtue epistemology: Modal Virtue Epistemology. It borrows from traditional virtue epistemology the idea that knowledge is a type of skillful performance. But it goes on to understand skillfulness in purely modal terms — that is, in terms of success across a range of counterfactual scenarios. We argue that this approach offers a promising way of synthesizing virtue epistemology with a modal account of knowledge, according to which knowledge is safe belief. In particular, we (...) argue that the modal elements of the view offer important advantages over traditional virtue epistemology, which assigns a central explanatory role to aptness. At the same time, the virtue epistemological elements of the theory reveal new avenues for overcoming obstacles to traditional modal accounts of knowledge. Finally, we highlight the advantages of Modal Virtue Epistemology over alternative syntheses, such as Pritchard's (2012) hybrid approach. (shrink)
Orthodoxy has it that knowledge is absolute—that is, it cannot come in degrees. On the other hand, there seems to be strong evidence for the gradability of know-how. Ascriptions of know-how are gradable, as when we say that one knows in part how to do something, or that one knows how to do something better than somebody else. When coupled with absolutism, the gradability of ascriptions of know-how can be used to mount a powerful argument against intellectualism about know-how—the view (...) that know-how is a species of propositional knowledge. This essay defends intellectualism from the argument of gradability. It is argued that the gradability of ascriptions of know-how should be discounted as a rather superficial linguistic phenomenon, one that can be explained in a way compatible with the absoluteness of the state reported. (shrink)
A good surgeon knows how to perform a surgery; a good architect knows how to design a house. We value their know-how. We ordinarily look for it. What makes it so valuable? A natural response is that know-how is valuable because it explains success. A surgeon’s know-how explains their success at performing a surgery. And an architect’s know-how explains their success at designing houses that stand up. We value know-how because of its special explanatory link to success. But in virtue (...) of what is know-how explanatorily linked to success? This essay provides a novel argument for the thesis that know-how’s special link to success is to be explained at least in part in terms of its being, or involving, a doxastic attitude that is epistemically alike propositional knowledge. It is argued that the role played by know-how in explaining intentional success shows that the epistemic differences between know-how and knowledge, if any, are less than usually thought; and that "revisionary intellectualism", the view that know-how is true belief that might well fall short of knowledge, is not really a stable position. If its explanatory link to success is what makes know-how valuable, an upshot of my argument is that the value of know-how is due, to a considerable extent, to its being, or involving, a kind of propositional knowledge. (shrink)
In their theories of know how, proponents of Intellectualism routinely appeal to ‘practical modes of presentation’. But what are practical modes of presentation? And what makes them distinctively practical? In this essay, I develop a Fregean account of practical modes of presentation: I argue that there are such things as practical senses and I give a theory of what they are. One of the challenges facing the proponent of a distinctively Fregean construal of practical modes of presentation is to provide (...) an account of their nature on which they are plausible qua Fregean senses. I take up this challenge, arguing that we find examples of practical senses in the semantic values assigned to programs by operational semantics for programming languages. By looking at a species of practical senses, we will have taken one important step towards legitimizing the genus. In particular, I show that certain features of operational semantic values can be generalized towards a comprehensive theory of practical senses. The upshot is a full-fledged account of what practical senses are, which can be put to use in an explanatory theory of know how. (shrink)
According to a standard assumption in epistemology, if one only partially believes that p , then one cannot thereby have knowledge that p. For example, if one only partially believes that that it is raining outside, one cannot know that it is raining outside; and if one only partially believes that it is likely that it will rain outside, one cannot know that it is likely that it will rain outside. Many epistemologists will agree that epistemic agents are capable of (...) partial beliefs in addition to full beliefs and that partial beliefs can be epistemically assessed along some dimensions. However, it has been generally assumed that such doxastic attitudes cannot possibly amount to knowledge. In Probabilistic Knowledge, Moss challenges this standard assumption and provides a formidable defense of the claim that probabilistic beliefs—a class of doxastic attitudes including credences and degrees of beliefs—can amount to knowledge too. Call this the probabilistic knowledge claim . Throughout the book, Moss goes to great lengths to show that probabilistic knowledge can be fruitfully applied to a variety of debates in epistemology and beyond. My goal in this essay is to explore a further application for probabilistic knowledge. I want to look at the role of probabilistic knowledge within a “knowledge-centered” psychology—a kind of psychology that assigns knowledge a central stage in explanations of intentional behavior. My suggestion is that Moss’s notion of probabilistic knowledge considerably helps further both a knowledge-centered psychology and a broadly intellectualist picture of action and know-how that naturally goes along with it. At the same time, though, it raises some interesting issues about the notion of explanation afforded by the resulting psychology. (shrink)
Knowledge and skill are intimately connected. In this essay, I discuss the question of their relationship and of which (if any) is prior to which in the order of explanation. I review some of the answers that have been given thus far in the literature, with a particular focus on the many foundational issues in epistemology that intersect with the philosophy of skill.
The prequel to this paper has discussed the relation between knowledge and skill and introduced the topic of the relationship between skill and know how. This sequel continues the discussion. First, I survey the recent debate on intellectualism about knowing how (§1-3). Then, I tackle the question as to whether intellectualism (and anti-intellectualism) about skill and intellectualism (and anti-intellectualism) about know how fall or stand together (§4-5).
This idea that what is distinctive of intentional performances (or at least of those intentional performances that amount to skilled actions) is one’s practical knowledge in it —i.e., knowledge of what one is doing while doing it— famously traces back to Anscombe (1963] 2000). While many philosophers have theorized about Anscombe’s notion of practical knowledge (e.g., Setiya (2008), Thompson et al. (2011), Schwenkler (2019), O’Brien (2007)), there is a wide disagreement about how to understand it. This paper investigates how best (...) to understand practical knowledge for it to play the desired explanatory role in a reductive theory of intentional action, of intention-in-action, and of control-in-action. I argue that practical knowledge ought to be construed as a dynamic knowledge state and that structured practical senses (Pavese 2015) are needed to model it. (shrink)
We represent the world in a variety of ways: through percepts, concepts, propositional attitudes, words, numerals, recordings, musical scores, photographs, diagrams, mimetic paintings, etc. Some of these representations are mental. It is customary for philosophers to distinguish two main kinds of mental representations: perceptual representation (e.g., vision, auditory, tactile) and conceptual representation. This essay presupposes a version of this dichotomy and explores the way in which a further kind of representation – procedural representation – represents. It is argued that, in (...) some important respects, procedural representations represent differently from both purely conceptual representations and purely perceptual representations. Although procedural representations, just like conceptual and perceptual representations, involve modes of presentation, their modes of presentation are distinctively practical, in a sense which I will clarify. It is argued that an understanding of this sort of practical representation has important consequences for the debate on the nature of know-how. (shrink)
Can we think of a task in a distinctively practical way? Can there be practical concepts? In recent years, epistemologists, philosophers of mind, as well as philosophers of psychology have appealed to practical concepts in characterizing the content of know-how or in explaining certain features of skilled action. However, reasons for positing practical concepts are rarely discussed in a systematic fashion. This paper advances a novel argument for the psychological reality of practical concepts that relies on evidence for a distinctively (...) productive kind of reasoning. (shrink)
Arguments have always played a central role within logic and philosophy. But little attention has been paid to arguments as a distinctive kind of discourse, with its own semantics and pragmatics. The goal of this essay is to study the mechanisms by means of which we make arguments in discourse, starting from the semantics of argument connectives such as `therefore'. While some proposals have been made in the literature, they fail to account for the distinctive anaphoric behavior of `therefore', as (...) well as uses of argument connectives in complex arguments, suppositional arguments, arguments with non-declarative conclusions, as well as arguments with parenthetical remarks. A comprehensive account of arguments requires imposing a distinctive tree-like structure on contexts. We show how to extend our account to accommodate modal subordination and and di fferent flavors of `therefore'. (shrink)
This essay is divided into two parts. In the first part (§2), I introduce the idea of practical meaning by looking at a certain kind of procedural systems — the motor system — that play a central role in computational explanations of motor behavior. I argue that in order to give a satisfactory account of the content of the representations computed by motor systems (motor commands), we need to appeal to a distinctively practical kind of meaning. Defending the explanatory relevance (...) of semantic properties in a computationalist explanation of motor behavior, my argument concludes that practical meanings play a central role in an adequate psychological theory of motor skill. In the second part of this essay (§3), I generalize and clarify the notion of practical meaning, and I defend the intelligibility of practical meanings against an important objection. (shrink)
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.
One can intentionally do something only if one knows what one is doing while they are doing it. For example, one can intentionally kill one’s neighbor by opening their gas stove overnight only if one knows that the gas is likely to kill the neighbor in their sleep. One can intentionally sabotage the victory of one’s rival by putting sleeping drugs in their drink only if one knows that sleeping drugs will harm the rival’s performance. And so on. In a (...) slogan: Intentional action is action guided by knowledge. This essay reviews some motivations for a ‘knowledge-centered psychology’ — a psychology where knowledge enters center stage in an explanation of intentional action (§2). Then it outlines a novel argument for the claim that knowledge is required for intentional action (§3) and discusses some of its consequences (§§4-5). (shrink)
This paper reexamines the case for mentality — the thesis that knowledge is a mental state in its own right, and not only derivatively, simply by virtue of being composed out of mental states or by virtue of being a property of mental states — and explores a novel argument for it. I argue that a certain property singled out by psychologists and philosophers of cognitive science as distinctive of skillful behavior (agentive control) is best understood in terms of knowledge. (...) While psychological theories of agentive control that appeal to monitoring mechanisms, such as attention, have been proposed, these theories cannot account for the full scope of controlled action. By contrast, I argue that an epistemic theory of agentive control that invokes knowledge is extensionally adequate. It is when it comes to understanding the hallmarks of skillful performance that the theoretical benefits of thinking of knowledge as mental can be fully appreciated. (shrink)
This chapter discusses recent attempts to clarify the notion of practical representation and its theoretical fruitfulness. The ultimate goal is not just to show that intellectualists are on good grounds when they appeal to practical representation in their theories of know-how. Rather, it is to argue that any plausible theory of skill and know-how has to appeal to the notion of practical representation developed here. §1 explains the notion of a mode of presentation and introduces practical modes of presentation. (...) §2 illustrates practical representation by discussing models of motor control in current theories of sensori-motor psychology; §3 puts forward an argument for positing practical representation. §4 goes from practical non-conceptual representations to practical conceptual representations — to practical concepts. §5 concludes. (shrink)
I argue for an analysis of ‘therefore’ as presupposition trigger against the more standard conventional implicature story originally put forward by Grice (1975). I propose that we model the relevant presupposition as “testing” the context in a way that is similar to how, according to some dynamic treatments of epistemic `must', ‘must’ tests the context. But whereas the presupposition analysis is plausible for ‘therefore’, ‘must’ is not plausibly a presupposition trigger. Moreover, whereas ‘must’ can naturally occur under a supposition, the (...) same is not true for ‘therefore’. In the light of these differences, I suggest we distinguish between different sorts of tests on the basis of the mechanisms whereby these expressions test the context (whether through a presupposition or through their core content) and on the basis of whether they can operate only on categorical contexts or on both categorical and hypothetical contexts. (shrink)
Philosophical questions surrounding skill and expertise can be traced back as far as Ancient Greece, China, and India. In the twentieth century skilled action was an important factor in the work of phenomenologists such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty and analytic philosophers including Gilbert Ryle. However, as a subject in its own right it has, until now, remained largely in the background. The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Skill and Expertise is an outstanding reference source and the first major collection of (...) its kind, reflecting the explosion of interest in the topic recent years. Comprising thirty-nine chapters written by leading international contributors, the Handbook is organised into six clear parts: Skill in the History of Philosophy Skill in Epistemology Skill, intelligence, and agency Skill in Perception, Imagination, and Emotion Skill, Language, and, Social Cognition Skill and Expertise in Normative Philosophy. Essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy of mind and psychology, epistemology and ethics, The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Skill and Expertise is also suitable for those in related disciplines such as social psychology and cognitive science. It is also relevant to those who are interested in conceptual issues underlying skill and expertise in fields such as sport, the performing arts, and medicine. (shrink)
In certain cases, people judge that agents bring about ends intentionally but also that they do not bring about the means that brought about those ends intentionally—even though bringing about the ends and means is just as likely. We call this difference in judgments the Kraemer effect. We offer a novel explanation for this effect: a perceived difference in the extent to which agents know how to bring about the means and the ends explains the Kraemer effect. In several experiments, (...) we replicate the Kraemer effect in a variety of non-moral and moral scenarios, and we find support for our new account. This work accords with a burgeoning area of action theory that identifies an important connection between know-how and intentionality. (shrink)
In the recent literature, several authors have argued that the capacity to track factive mental states plays a central role in explaining our ability to understand and predict people’s behavior (Nagel 2013; Nagel 2017; Phillips & Norby 2019; Phillips et al. 2020; Westra & Nagel 2021). The topic of this chapter is whether this capacity also enters into an explanation of our ability to track skilled and intentional actions.
Epistemologists have long believed that epistemic luck undermines propositional knowledge. Action theorists have long believed that agentive luck undermines intentional action. But is there a relationship between agentive luck and epistemic luck? While agentive luck and epistemic luck have been widely thought to be independent phenomena, we argue that agentive luck has an epistemic dimension. We present several thought experiments where epistemic luck seems to undermine both knowledge-how and intentional action and we report experimental results that corroborate these judgments. We (...) argue that these findings have implications for the role of knowledge in a theory of intentional action and for debates about the nature of knowledge-how and the significance of knowledge representation in folk psychology. (shrink)
It is a platitude that when we reason, we often take things for granted, sometimes even justifiably so. The chemist might reason from the fact that a substance turns litmus paper red to that substance being an acid. In so doing, they take for granted, reasonably enough, that this test for acidity is valid. We ordinarily reason from things looking a certain way to their being that way. We take for granted, reasonably enough, that things are as they look Although (...) it is a platitude that we often take things for granted when we reason—whether justifiably or not—one might think that we do not have to. In fact, it is a natural expectation that were we not pressed by time, lack of energy or focus, we could always in principle make explicit in the form of premises every single presupposition we make in the course of our reasoning. In other words, it is natural to expect it to be true that presuppositionless reasoning is possible. In this essay, I argue that it is false: presuppositionless reasoning is impossible. Indeed, I think this is one of the lessons of a long-standing paradox about inference and reasoning known as Lewis Carroll’s (1985) regress of the premises. Many philosophers agree that Carroll’s regress teaches us something foundational about reasoning. I part ways about what it is that it teaches us. What it teaches us is that the structure of reasoning is constitutively presuppositional. (shrink)
The diverse and breathtaking intelligence of the human animal is often embodied in skills. People, throughout their lifetimes, acquire and refine a vast number of skills. And there seems to be no upper limit to the creativity and beauty expressed by them. Think, for instance, of Olympic gymnastics: the amount of strength, flexibility, and control required to perform even a simple beam routine amazes, startles, and delights. In addition to the sheer beauty of skill, performances at the pinnacle of expertise (...) often display a kind of brilliance or genius. We observe an intelligence that saturates the body. The unity of physicality and intellect, mind and body, meshed and melded. Apart from sports, people develop a host of other skills, including musical and artistic skills, linguistic and social skills, scientific and medical skills, military and political skills, engineering skills, computer skills, business skills, etc. What's more, skill acquisition and refinement occurs throughout the human lifespan. In the Introduction to the Routledge Handbook of Skill and Expertise, we introduce and contextualize the various chapters that compose the Handbook. Before providing substantive overviews of each chapter, we also discuss the topic of skill in general and its importance for various areas of philosophy. Chapters are organized into six sections: 1. Skill in the history of philosophy (East & West), 2. Skill in Epistemology, 3. Skill, Intelligence, and Agency, 4. Skill in Perception, Imagination, and Emotion, 5. Skill, Language, and Social Cognition, and 6. Skill and Expertise in Normative Philosophy. (shrink)