The article draws from a personal clinical experience of two suicides, not far removed from each other in time. The first patient was a 33-year-old intellectual suffering from depression with narcissistic traits but no psychotic elements, while the second patient was a 21-year-old student with a manifest psychotic episode behind him and with characteristics of post-psychotic depression at the time of suicide. The two suicides had very different impacts on the therapist: the first left open some “space” for reflection, communication, (...) and working-through, while the second closed such a “space,” leaving only a tiny door to the existential roots of human beings and suffering. The therapist was able to find some “shelter” by talking to supervisors, colleagues, and friends in the first case; in the second, the only possible “shelter” was glimpsed in the philosophy of groundlessness (Ungrund) of the Russian existentialist Nicolai Berdyaev. The personal experiences of the therapist, along with some theoretical interpretations of the after-effects of both suicides, are presented using a psychodynamic and existential–phenomenological understanding of the therapeutic relationship with a psychotic and a non-psychotic patient. The main dilemmas exposed by a patient’s suicide, especially if the patient suffers from psychosis, are difficult to deal with in the usual clinical settings and call for resources beyond it. The authors propose that these can be found in philosophical and theological insights. (shrink)
Whenever the membranes of the egg in which the foetus emerges on its way to becoming a new-born are broken, imagine for a moment that something flies off, and that one can do it with an egg as easily as with a man, namely the hommelette, or the lamella. The lamella is something extra-flat, which moves like the amoeba. It is just a little more complicated. But it goes everywhere. And as it is something - I will tell you shortly (...) why - that is related to what the sexed being loses in sexuality, it is, like the amoeba in relation to sexed beings, immortal - because it survives any division, and scissiparous intervention. And it can turn around. Well! This is not very reassuring. But suppose it comes and envelopes your face while you are quietly asleep... I can't see how we would not join battle with a being capable of these properties. But it would not be a very convenient battle. This lamella, this organ, whose characteristic is not to exist, but which is nevertheless an organ - I can give you more details as to its zoological place - is the libido. It is the libido, qua pure life instinct, that is to say, immortal life, irrepressible life, life that has need of no organ, simplified, indestructible life. It is precisely what is subtracted from the living being by virtue of the fact that it is subject to the cycle of sexed reproduction. And it is of this that all the forms of the objet a that can be enumerated are the representatives, the equivalents. Every word has a weight here, in this deceivingly poetic description of the mythic creature called by Lacan "lamella". Lacan imagines lamella as a version of what Freud called "partial object": a weird organ which is magically autonomized, surviving without a body whose organ it should have been, like a hand that wonders around alone in early Surrealist films, or like the smile in Alice in Wonderland that persists alone, even when the Cheshire cat's body is no longer present: "'All right', said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. 'Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin', thought Alice; 'but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!'" The lamella is an entity of pure surface, without the density of a substance, an infinitely plastic object that can not only incessantly change its form, but can even transpose itself from one to another medium: imagine a "something" that is first heard as a shrilling sound, and then pops up as a monstrously distorted body. A lamella is indivisible, indestructible, and immortal - more precisely, undead in the sense this term has in horror fiction: not the sublime spiritual immortality, but the obscene immortality of the "living dead" which, after every annihilation, re-composes themselves and clumsily goes on. As Lacan puts it in his terms, lamella does not exist, it insists: it is unreal, an entity of pure semblance, a multiplicity of appearances which seem to envelop a central void - its status is purely fantasmatic. This blind indestructible insistence of the libido is what Freud called "death drive," and one should bear in mind that "death drive" is, paradoxically, the Freudian name for its very opposite, for the way immortality appears within psychoanalysis: for an uncanny excess of life, for an "undead" urge which persist beyond the cycle of life and death, of generation and corruption. This is why Freud equates death drive with the so-called "compulsion-to-repeat," an uncanny urge to repeat painful past experiences which seems to outgrow the natural limitations of the organism affected by it and to insist even beyond the organism's death - again, like the living dead in a horror film who just go on. This excess inscribes itself into the human body in the guise of a wound which makes the subject "undead," depriving him of the capacity to die : when this wound is healed, the hero can die in peace. (shrink)
abstract Ryle's claim that knowing how is distinct from knowing that is defended from critics like Stanley and Williamson and Snowdon. However, the way in which Ryle himself deploys this distinction is problematic. By effectively dismissing the idea that systematic propositional knowledge has a significant bearing on knowledge how, Ryle implicitly supports a view of vocational education that favours narrow notions of skill and associated training over knowledge informed occupational practice of the kind found in most Northern European countries. The (...) source of Ryle's error in excluding systematic propositional knowledge from a significant place in the constitution of knowing how is traced. It is argued that Ryle's original distinction survives without the exclusion of systematic propositional knowledge from knowing how and the resulting account does more justice to the practice of vocational education in advanced economies than does Ryle's original treatment. (shrink)
The concept of instinct has fallen into disrepute, due to a number of problems with the way it had been conceived, mostly related to the concept of innateness. Yet the legacy of instincts survives in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, in the form of an emphasis on the genetic determinants of behavior. Through a consideration of the two main theories of instinct and the objections that have been raised against them, it becomes clear that existing theories of instinct founder because (...) of their inability to reconcile the psychic and physiological “faces” of instinct. Merleau-Ponty's notion of “being-in-the-world” as a third term linking the psychic and the physiological makes possible a new conception of instinct which escapes these criticisms. At the same time, it opens up a new way of understanding how instincts may operate in human beings. (shrink)
Na primeira parte, argumento que o descritivismo proposto por Moritz Schlick não compreende adequadamente a função dos juízos morais. Na segunda parte, argumento que o emotivismo não apresenta uma explicação adequada para o papel da razão na ética. Na terceira parte, argumento que o prescritivismo universal proposto por R. M. Hare avança na solução dos problemas do emotivismo, porque amplia o papel da razão na ética, e na solução dos problemas do descritivismo, porque compreende a função dos juízos morais na (...) linguagem ordinária. The first part of this article argues that descriptivism as proposed by Moritz Schlick does not correctly understand the function of moral judgements. The second part argues that emotivism does not provide an adequate explanation of the role of reason in ethics. Finally, the article shows how the universal prescriptivism proposed by R. M. Hare furthers the solution of the problems of emotivism, since it extends the role of reason in ethics and in the resolution of the problems of descriptivism, given that it understands the function of moral judgements in ordinary language. (shrink)
Allan Gibbard’s strategy in his new book is to begin by describing a psychology of thinking and planning that certain agents might instantiate, then to argue that this psychology involves an ‘expressivism’ about thought that bears on what to do, and, ﬁnally, to try to show that ascribing that same psychology to human beings would explain the way we deploy various concepts in practical and normative deliberation. The idea is to construct an imaginary normative psychology, purportedly conforming to expressivist speciﬁcations, (...) and then to campaign for the hypothesis that that psychology is ours and that we ourselves conform to those speciﬁcations. The upshot is an original and intriguing argument for the claim that ‘expressivism’, as Gibbard understands it, is sound. There is more in the book than that bare argument. Filling out the strategy pursued, for example, the volume contains useful discussions of a number of current debates (chs 2, 12), an enlightening argument that the strategy survives the introduction of the notion that a concept can have a character distinct from its content (ch. 6), and an extended set of reﬂections on how far the point of view defended leaves room for the idea of gaining normative knowledge (pt. 4). But I shall ignore those aspects of the book in this commentary; the focus is on its central argument. My approach will be to reconstuct the main stages in the Aufbau of our normative psychology that Gibbard provides, emphasizing some crucial points that are passed over rather quickly, and then to suggest on the basis of this reconstruction that the more natural lesson to derive is not an expressivist one. Although I break with Gibbard in that way, however, I have great admiration for the book. Thinking How to Live is a sharp, fresh and invigorating treatment of the main issues of metaethics. (shrink)
Allan Gibbard’s strategy in his new book is to begin by describing a psychology of thinking and planning that certain agents might instantiate, then to argue that this psychology involves an ‘expressivism’ about thought that bears on what to do, and, finally, to try to show that ascribing that same psychology to human beings would explain the way we deploy various concepts in practical and normative deliberation. The idea is to construct an imaginary normative psychology, purportedly conforming to expressivist specifications, (...) and then to campaign for the hypothesis that that psychology is ours and that we ourselves conform to those specifications. The upshot is an original and intriguing argument for the claim that ‘expressivism’, as Gibbard understands it, is sound. There is more in the book than that bare argument. Filling out the strategy pursued, for example, the volume contains useful discussions of a number of current debates (chs 2, 12), an enlightening argument that the strategy survives the introduction of the notion that a concept can have a character distinct from its content (ch. 6), and an extended set of reflections on how far the point of view defended leaves room for the idea of gaining normative knowledge (pt. 4). But I shall ignore those aspects of the book in this commentary; the focus is on its central argument. My approach will be to reconstuct the main stages in the Aufbau of our normative psychology that Gibbard provides, emphasizing some crucial points that are passed over rather quickly, and then to suggest on the basis of this reconstruction that the more natural lesson to derive is not an expressivist one. Although I break with Gibbard in that way, however, I have great admiration for the book. Thinking How to Live is a sharp, fresh and invigorating treatment of the main issues of metaethics. (shrink)
Emotivism has enjoined a revival of sorts over the past few decades, primarily driven by a Darwinian interpretation of the Humean metaethic. Evolutionary ethics, the metaethical view that at the heart of our moral sense lies a set of moral sentiments whose existence 'pre-dates' in evolutionary terms our species' ability to engage in more explicit, cognitive moral deliberations and discourse, whether in the discovery of deontological rules or in the crafting of social contracts, figures prominently in Robert Solomon's work (...) in justice theory and J. Baird Callicott's work in environmental ethics, to name just two efforts to revive emotivism. Though the idea that our moral sense is grounded in our evolved biology lies at the heart of the new ethical emotivism, there has been a curious lack of a truly evolutionary account of the origin of that biological predisposition in the work of Solomon, Callicott, and others involved in the revival. In particular, what is missing is an account of how we evolved our moral sense as an adaptation to the ecology in which our very early ancestors existed. The typical explanation is to treat it as selected for by the pressure to cooperate that bore upon our early ancestors; for example, the advantage that cooperative effort confers in bringing down big game or warding off competing groups. But this type of explanation, I hope to show, rather than providing an account of how our moral sense came to be, actually must presuppose the existence of a rudimentary moral sense. If so, then the origin of our moral sense must be accounted for as an adaptation to our pre-social, ecological environment. As a model for what such an explanation might look like I will use Jared Diamond's recent work in biogeography, Guns, Germs and Steel. (shrink)
Conservatism about perceptual justification tells us that we cannot have perceptual justification to believe p unless we also have justification to believe that perceptual experiences are reliable. There are many ways to maintain this thesis, ways that have not been sufficiently appreciated. Most of these ways lead to at least one of two problems. The first is an over-intellectualization problem, whereas the second problem concerns the satisfaction of the epistemic basing requirement on justified belief. I argue that there is at (...) least one Conservative view that survives both difficulties, a view which has the further ability to undercut a crucial consideration that has supported Dogmatist views about perceptual justification. The final section explores a tension between Conservatism and the prospects of having a completely general account of propositional justification. Ironically, the problem is that Conservatives seem committed to making the acquisition of propositional justification too easy. My partial defense of Conservatism concludes by suggesting possible solutions to this problem. (shrink)
The symmetrization postulates of quantum mechanics (symmetry for bosons, antisymmetry for fermions) are usually taken to entail that quantum particles of the same kind (e.g., electrons) are all in exactly the same state and therefore indistinguishable in the strongest possible sense. These symmetrization postulates possess a general validity that survives the classical limit, and the conclusion seems therefore unavoidable that even classical particles of the same kind must all be in the same state—in clear conflict with what we know (...) about classical particles. In this article we analyze the origin of this paradox. We shall argue that in the classical limit classical particles emerge, as new entities that do not correspond to the “particle indices” defined in quantum mechanics. Put differently, we show that the quantum mechanical symmetrization postulates do not pertain to particles, as we know them from classical physics, but rather to indices that have a merely formal significance. This conclusion raises the question of whether many discussions in the literature about the status of identical quantum particles have not been misguided. (shrink)
Epistemic externalism offers one of the most prominent responses to the sceptical challenge. Externalism has commonly been interpreted as postulating a crucial asymmetry between the actual-world agent and their brain-in-a-vat counterpart: while the actual agent is in a position to know she is not envatted, her biv counterpart is not in a position to know that she is envatted, or in other words, only the former is in a position to know whether or not she is envatted. In this paper, (...) I argue that there is in fact no such asymmetry: assuming epistemic externalism, both the actual world agent and their biv counterpart are in a position to know whether or not they are envatted. After an introduction, I present the main argument. I examine to what extent the argument survives when one accepts additional externalist-friendly commitments: semantic externalism, a sensitivity condition on knowledge, and epistemic contextualism. Finally, I discuss the implications of my conclusion to a variety of debates in epistemology. (shrink)
Until very recently the received wisdom on Russell’s moral philosophy was that it is uninspired and derivative, from Moore in its first phase and from Hume and the emotivists in its second. In my view this is a consensus of error. In the latter part of this essay I contend: 1) that Russell’s ‘work in moral philosophy’ had at least three, and (depending how you look at it) up to six ‘main phases’; 2) that in some of those phases, it (...) was not derivative, but on the contrary, highly original; 3) that Russell was a pioneer of two of the chief forms of ethical anti-realism that have dominated debate in this century, emotivism and the error theory (so that if the theory of Human Society was derived from emotivism, it was derived from a family of theories that Russell himself helped to create); 4) that the revolt against Hegelianism, which led to the birth of Analytic Philosophy, had an ethical dimension to it; and 5) that Russell played an important part in the debates that led up to Moore’s Principia Ethica, so that the view form which his own opinions were derived is one that he helped to develop. -/- I also argue that Russell himself pioneered a rather puritanical conception of philosophy which tended to extrude his own writings on politics and practical ethics as not really philosophical. Since this conception has been largely abandoned, it is time to let them back into the fold. I argue that this views of practical affairs are often backed by interesting philosophical arguments, illustrating this thesis with a reconstruction and critique of Russell’s Hobbesian argument for world government. (shrink)
This paper examines the stability of objective chance. I defend the stable chance thesis : that in any given possible world, any pair of intrinsic duplicate physical setups with the same chances of being subject to the same external influences must yield the same chances. I argue that SCT compares favourably to rivals in the literature. I then consider a challenge to SCT involving time travel and causal loops. I argue that SCT survives this challenge, but that such cases (...) expose chance as less stable than we might unreflectively have thought. In particular, the chances associated with a physical setup are sensitive to the way that this setup is embedded in a wider causal structure. (shrink)
The ‘Kantian ideal’ is often misunderstood as invoking individual autonomy rather than rational self-legislation. Le Morvan and Stock’s otherwise insightful discussion of ‘Medical learning curves and the Kantian ideal’, for example, draws the mistaken inference that that ideal is inconsistent with the realities of medical practice. But it is not. Rationally to be a patient entails accepting its necessary conditions, one of which is the ineliminable existence of medical learning curves. Their rational necessity, therefore, offers no grounds against a Kantian (...) understanding of how morality might function in the practgice of medicine. (shrink)
: In its response to pressures to rationalize health care resource allocation, the American health care system has embraced managed care without concurrent comprehensive health care reform, either in the form of the centralized tax-based systems found in Europe and Canada or that of the Clinton reform plan. What survives is managed care without managed competition, employer mandates, or universal access. Two problems inherent in the incentive structure of managed care plans developed in the absence of comprehensive health care (...) reform work against the public interest. First, sacrifices in terms of medical innovation and quality of care may not be offset by greater equity in the distribution of health care. Second, such managed care plans fail to address the need for long-term accountability. (shrink)
The above arguments have not conclusively demonstrated the existence of value; nor have they sought to. Rather, they have focused primarily on value-language itself: what it is, what it means, and how men use it. In value-judgements, men intend to speak about reality, and not merely to manifest their feelings to influence others. The conceptual character of value-words gives them a formal objectivity lacking in mere manifestations of feeling; the meaning of value-words contains a “claim to objectivity” arising from the (...) “ontological claim to objectivity” of value itself.These facts demonstrate conclusively that value-language differs essentially from emotive manifestations of feeling. Therefore, and in contradiction to both Ayer and Stevenson, even the most abstract of value-words can be used to form legitimate, conceptually meaningful value-judgements. As judgements, value-judgements can be true or false, not because of any “factual” content, but specifically as conceptually meaningful, pure value-judgements.I have deliberately restricted these investigations to consideration of language, without seriously arguing the ontology of value itself. Thereby, I have met the emotivists on their own ground. Even without demonstrating the existence of value, I have shown their analysis of value-language to be flawed. Further, I have identified a unique “claim to objectivity” in value-language which argues strongly in favor of the real existence of value as its ultimate foundation.For the simplest, most obvious explanation of this “claim to objectivity” is that it refers to value, which actually exists. That proof is logically the next step in my argument. A good place to begin would be a more careful, detailed analysis of the structure of human responses such as admiration, love, enthusiasm, etc., seeking to determine what they ontologically presuppose. Von Hildebrand proceeds in this way in his Ethics. See note 17, above.Proof of the real existence of value would demonstrate the ontological grounds for the “claim to objectivity” of value-language. It would show that value-language is rooted in the real world, speaking of reality as it is. This would be the last, and most important sense in which value-language is meaningful and objective. (shrink)
It is an increasingly influential view that personal identity across time is in part a matter of the attitudes or desires of the entities that constitute persons. Thus some talk of “person-directed practices”—practices of reasonable self-regard that entities have for some of their continuants. In some versions, these practices are social as well as personal. On these views a person’s identity over time is, at least in part, determined by the various person-directed practices of the individual and/or of the community. (...) These practices include the attribution of blame and reward for past actions, encouragement for future actions, the transmission of property, the attitude of anticipation or self-regard for future continuants and so forth. On this view someone survives some event just if, given her person-tracking practices, or those of her community, the being that exists prior to the event is treated in the same person-directed way as the being that exists after the event. Yet had these practices been somewhat different, she would have failed to survive the event even though, as it was, she did survive. We will sometimes call these person-directed practices ‘conventions of identity’, and later come back to discuss whether ‘convention’ is exactly the right term. If these practices are conventions, then it seems that personal identity is sometimes, at least in part, a matter of convention. Call such a view conventionalism about identity. The job of this paper is to defend the coherence of this view, and in particular to defend it from some important recent criticisms by Trenton Merricks. (shrink)
Reductive intellectualists hold that knowledge-how is a kind of knowledge-that. For this thesis to hold water, it is obviously important that knowledge-how and knowledge-that have the same epistemic properties. In particular, knowledge-how ought to be compatible with epistemic luck to the same extent as knowledge-that. It is argued, contra reductive intellectualism, that knowledge-how is compatible with a species of epistemic luck which is not compatible with knowledge-that, and thus it is claimed that knowledge-how and knowledge-that come apart.
In this paper I develop three different arguments against the thesis that knowledge-how is a kind of knowledge-that. Knowledge-that is widely thought to be subject to an anti-luck condition, a justified or warranted belief condition, and a belief condition, respectively. The arguments I give suggest that if either of these standard assumptions is correct then knowledge-how is not a kind of knowledge-that. In closing I identify a possible alternative to the standard Rylean and intellectualist accounts of knowledge-how. This alternative view (...) illustrates that even if the arguments given here succeed it might still be reasonable to hold that knowing how to do something is a matter of standing in an intentional relation to a proposition other than the knowledge-that relation. (shrink)
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 (...) takes to do so. This idea is developed into a full-fledged account, Rylean responsibilism, which understands know-how in terms of the normative guidance and responsible control of one's acts. Within the complex current debate about know-how, this view occupies a middle ground position between the intellectualist claim that know-how just is propositional or objectual knowledge and the anti-intellectualist claim that know-how just is ability. In genuine know-how, practical ability and guiding intellect are both necessary, but essentially intertwined. (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)
In this chapter I explore how epistemic injustice (as discussed by Miranda Fricker) can arise in connection with knowledge how. I attempt to bypass the question of whether knowledge how is a type of propositional knowledge, and instead focus on some distinctive ways in which knowledge how is sometimes sought, identified or ignored.
The article presents a critical discussion of Larry Laudan's naturalistic metamethodological theory known as normative naturalism (NN). I examine the strongest extant objection to NN, and, with reference to ideas in Freedman ( Philosophy of Science , 66 (Proceedings), pp. S526-S537, 1999), show how NN survives it. I then go on to outline two problems that really do compromise NN. The first revolves around Laudan's conception of the relationship between scientific values and the history of science. Laudan argues we (...) can make sense of progress in science without seeing great scientists in the past as having held the cognitive values and methodological rules we hold today as important for science. I argue this is extremely implausible, and moreover that Laudan must see our values today as justified by reference to the values of past scientists if he is to avoid a pernicious form of relativism. The second problem with NN is that its conception of methodological rules--as hypothetical imperatives linking cognitive means to ends--is untenable. Such rules would not be needed in a scientific community; moreover it is doubtful whether they should class as rules at all. I conclude by suggesting that the distinction between cognitive means and ends which undergirds Laudan's view is intuitively not well founded, and in any case does not provide sufficient materials for a viable normative naturalized epistemology. (shrink)
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 (...) to which the possession of knowledge-how is just a matter of possessing certain abilities, we submit that knowledge-how is a particular kind of cognitive achievement attained just when cognitive ability is connected in the right way with successful performance. (shrink)
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).
I develop and defend the view that subjects are necessarily psychologically able to revise their beliefs in response to relevant counter-evidence. Specifically, subjects can revise their beliefs in response to relevant counter-evidence, given their current psychological mechanisms and skills. If a subject lacks this ability, then the mental state in question is not a belief, though it may be some other kind of cognitive attitude, such as a supposi-tion, an entertained thought, or a pretense. The result is a moderately revisionary (...) view of belief: while most mental states we thought were beliefs are beliefs, some mental states which we thought were beliefs are not beliefs. The argument for this view draws on two key claims: First, subjects are rationally obligated to revise their beliefs in response to relevant counter-evidence. Second, if some subject is rationally obligated to revise one of her mental states, then that subject can revise that mental state, given her current psychological mechanisms and skills. Along the way to defending these claims, I argue that rational obligations can govern activities which reflect on one’s rational character, whether or not those activities are under one’s voluntary control. I also show how the relevant version of epistemic ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ survives an objection which plagues other variants of the principle. (shrink)
SummaryNeither an infant one week old nor a snail is a rational creature. If the infant survives long enough, he will probably become rational, while this is not true of the snail. If we like, we may say of the infant from the start that he is a rational creature because he will probably become rational if he survives, or because he belongs to a species with this capacity. Whichever way we talk, there remains the difference, with respect (...) to rationality, between the infant and the snail on one hand, and the normal adult person on the other; this difference is discussed here.The difference consists, it is argued, in the having of propositional attitudes such as belief, desire, intention and shame. This raises the question how to tell when a creature has propositional attitudes; snails, we may agree, do not, but how about dogs or chimpanzees? The question is not empirical; the question is what sort of empirical evidence is relevant to deciding when a creature has propositional attitudes.It is next contended that language is a necessary concomitant of any of the propositional attitudes. This idea is not new, but there seem to be few arguments in its favor in the literature; one is attempted here.Crucial to the considerations advanced is the idea that belief depends on having the concept of objective truth, and that this comes only with language.RéuméNi un bébé d'une semaine, ni un serpent ne sont des créatures rationnelles. Si le bébé survit assez longtemps, il deviendra probablement rationnel, mais ce n'est pas vrai pour le serpent. Sil'on veut, on peut dire d'emblee du bébé qu'il est une créature rationnelle parce qu'il le deviendra s'il survit ou parce qu'il appartient à une espèce qui possède cette faculté. Quoi qu'on dise, la différence subsiste, en ce qui concerné la rationalité, entre le bébé et le serpent d'une part, la per‐sonne adulte normale de lcar;autre, et c'est cette différence qui sera discutée ici.La différence consiste, selon l'auteur, en une capacityé d'avoir des attitudes propositionnelles telles que la croyance, le désir, l'intention et la honte. Ceci pose la question de savoir quand on peut dire qu'une créature a des attitudes propositionnelles; on peut se mettre d'accord sur le fait que les serpents n'en ont pas, mais qu'en est‐il des chiens et des chimpanzés? La question n'est pas empirique, elle est de savoir quelle donnée empirique va décider si oui ou non une créature a des attitudes propositionnelles.L'auteur prétend que les attitudes propositionnelles s'accompagnent nécessairement du langage. Cette idèe n'est pas nouvelle, mais il semble qu'il y a peu d'arguments qui la soutiennent dans la littérature. On en trouvera un ici, où l'on montre qu'un élément crucial de a croyance dépend de l'acquisition du concept de vérité objective, qui ne se développe qu'avec le langage.ZusammenfassungWeder ein eine Woche altes Kind noch eine Schlange sind rationale Wesen. Wenn das Kind lange genug überlebt, wird es sich wahrscheinlich zu einem vernünftigen Wesen entwickeln, wäh‐rend das für die Schlange nicht zutrifft. Wenn wir wollen, können wir vom Kind sagen, dass es von Anfang an cin rationales Wesen ist, weil es im Fallc des Ubcrlebens vernünftig werden wird oder weil es zu einer Spezies mit dieser Fähigkeit gehört. Wie auch immer wir das ausdrücken, bleibt bezüglich der Rationalität der Unterschied zwischen dem Kind und der Schlange einerseits und der erwachsenen Person andererseits zurück. Dieser Unterschied wird hier diskutiert.Es wird argumentiert, dass der Unterschied in der Fähigkeit besteht, psychologische Haltun‐gen wie Glauben, Begierden, Absichten und Scham zu haben. Damit erhebt sich die Frage, wie man entscheiden kann, wann ein Wesen solchc Einstellungcn hat; Schlangen, wird man zugeben, haben keine; wie steht es aber mit Hunden Oder Schimpansen? Die Frage ist keine empirische, sondern betrifft die Frage, welche Art von empirischen Belegen für den Entscheid relevant ist, ob ein Wesen derartige Einstellungen hat.Es wird die These aufgestellt, dass Sprachen ein notwendiger Begleitumstand einer jeglichen propositionalen Haltung ist. Der Gedanke ist zwar nicht neu, aber es finden sich wenige Argu‐mente zu seiner Stützung in der Literatur; eines wird hier ausgeführt.Entscheidend für die vorgelegten Betrachtungen ist die Auffassung, wonach Glaube vom Begriff der objektiven Wahrheit abhängt, und dieser kommt erst mit der Sprache. (shrink)
Which role do concepts play in a person's actions? Do concepts underwrite the very idea of agency in somebody's acting? Or is the appeal to concepts in action a problematic form of over-intellectualization which obstructs a proper picture of genuine agency? Within the large and complicated terrain of these questions, the debate about know-how has been of special interest in recent years. In this paper, I shall try to spell out what know-how can tell us about the role of concepts (...) in action. I will argue that the fact that people possess and exercise know-how is indeed suited to deliver a number of important insights as to where and how concepts play a role in action. But I shall argue that these insights are limited in that they fail to cover the whole realm of relevant phenomena. (shrink)
In the 1940s, Gilbert Ryle argued for anti-intellectualism about know how. More recently, new intellectualists have challenged the canonical status of Ryle's arguments, and in the ensuing debate Ryleans appear to be on their back foot. However, contributors on both sides of the debate tend to ignore or misconstrue Ryle's own positive account of know how. In this paper, I develop two aspects of Ryle's positive account that have been overlooked. For Ryle, S knows how to Φ iff (1) S (...) is able to reliably live up to the norms for Φ-ing, and (2) S Φ’s responsibly. In the first half of the paper, I argue that the two conditions rule out the various counter-examples to the simple ability view attributed to Ryle. In the second half of the paper, I argue that Ryle's second condition provides us with an account of warrant related to know how. (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 this paper, I argue that there is a notion of 'counterfactual success' which stands to knowledge how as true belief stands to propositional knowledge. (I attempt to avoid the question of whether knowledge how is a type of propositional knowledge.).
This bold and brilliant book asks the ultimate question of the life sciences: How did the human mind acquire its incomparable power? In seeking the answer, Merlin Donald traces the evolution of human culture and cognition from primitive apes to the era of artificial intelligence, and presents an original theory of how the human mind evolved from its presymbolic form. In the emergence of modern human culture, Donald proposes, there were three radical transitions. During the first, our bipedal but still (...) apelike ancestors acquired "mimetic" skill—the ability to represent knowledge through voluntary motor acts—which made Homo erectus successful for over a million years. The second transition—to "mythic" culture —coincided with the development of spoken language. Speech allowed the large-brained Homo sapiens to evolve a complex preliterate culture that survives in many parts of the world today. In the third transition, when humans constructed elaborate symbolic systems ranging from cuneiforms, hieroglyphics, and ideograms to alphabetic languages and mathematics, human biological memory became an inadequate vehicle for storing and processing our collective knowledge. The modern mind is thus a hybrid structure built from vestiges of earlier biological stages as well as new external symbolic memory devices that have radically altered its organization. According to Donald, we are symbol-using creatures, more complex than any that went before us, and we may have not yet witnessed the final modular arrangement of the human mind. (shrink)
It has been claimed that the attempt to analyze know-how in terms of propositional knowledge over-intellectualizes the mind. Exploiting the methods of so-called “experimental philosophy”, we show that the charge of over-intellectualization is baseless. Contra neo-Ryleans, who analyze know-how in terms of ability, the concrete-case judgments of ordinary folk are most consistent with the view that there exists a set of correct necessary and sufficient conditions for know-how that does not invoke ability, but rather a certain sort of propositional knowledge. (...) To the extent that one’s considered judgments agree with those of the folk (or to the extent that one is unwilling to contravene widespread judgments), this constitutes a strong prima facie case against neo-Ryleanism. (shrink)
Why is it useful to talk and think about knowledge-how? Using Edward Craig’s discussion of the function of the concepts of knowledge and knowledge-how as a jumping off point, this paper argues that considering this question can offer us new angles on the debate about knowledge-how. We consider two candidate functions for the concept of knowledge-how: pooling capacities, and mutual reliance. Craig makes the case for pooling capacities, which connects knowledge-how to our need to pool practical capacities. I argue that (...) the evidence is much more equivocal. My suggested diagnosis is that the concept of knowledge-how plays both functions, meaning that the concept of knowledge-how is inconsistent, and that the debate about knowledge-how is at least partly a metalinguistic negotiation. In closing, I suggest a way to revise the philosophical concept of knowledge how. (shrink)
I argue that the intellectualist account of knowledge-how, according to which agents have the knowledge-how to \ in virtue of standing in an appropriate relation to a proposition, is only half right. On the composition view defended here, knowledge-how at least typically requires both propositional knowledge and motor representations. Motor representations are not mere dispositions to behavior because they have representational content, and they play a central role in realizing the intelligence in knowledge-how. But since motor representations are not propositional, (...) propositional knowledge is not sufficient for knowledge-how. (shrink)
Among contemporary epistemologists and scholars of ancient philosophy, one often hears that transmitting propositional knowledge by testimony is usually easy and straightforward, but transmitting understanding and know-how by testimony is usually difficult or simply impossible. Further provocative conclusions are then sometimes drawn from these claims: for instance, that know-how and understanding are not types of propositional knowledge. In contrast, I argue that transmitting propositional knowledge is sometimes easy and sometimes hard, just as transmitting know how and understanding is sometimes easy (...) and sometimes hard. No general lessons can be drawn about the relationships among propositional knowledge, know how, and understanding by considering the case of testimony alone. (shrink)
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 (...) how to \ and fail to believe that w, the way that she \s, is a way for her to \. We discuss a variety of ways in which Intellectualists might respond to this challenge and argue that, ultimately, this debate converges with another, seemingly distinct debate in contemporary epistemology: how to attribute belief in cases of conflict between an agent’s avowals and her behavior. No-belief cases, we argue, reveal how Intellectualism depends on the plausibility of positing something like “implicit beliefs”—which conflict with an agent’s avowed beliefs—in many cases of apparent knowledge-how. While there may be good reason to posit implicit beliefs elsewhere, we suggest that there are at least some grounds for thinking that these reasons fail to carry over to no-belief cases, thus applying new pressure to Intellectualism. (shrink)
We begin with a puzzle: why do some know-how attributions entail ability attributions while others do not? After rejecting the tempting response that know-how attributions are ambiguous, we argue that a satisfactory answer to the puzzle must acknowledge the connection between know-how and concept possession (specifically, reasonable conceptual mastery, or understanding). This connection appears at first to be grounded solely in the cognitive nature of certain activities. However, we show that, contra anti-intellectualists, the connection between know-how and concept possession can (...) be generalized via reflection on the cognitive nature of intentional action and the potential of certain misunderstandings to undermine know-how even when the corresponding abilities and associated propositional knowledge are in place. Such considerations make explicit the intimate relation between know-how and understanding, motivating a general intellectualist analysis of the former in terms of the latter. (shrink)
Perhaps it is a pity that the Theory of Knowledge and the Theory of Conduct have fallen into separate compartments. (It certainly was not so in Socrates’ time, as his interest in the relation between eidos and technê bears witness.) If we studied them together, perhaps we might have a better understanding of both. H.H. Price, Thinking and Representation..
Reductive intellectualists (e.g., Stanley & Williamson 2001; Stanley 2011a; 2011b; Brogaard 2008; 2009; 2011) hold that knowledge-how is a kind of knowledge-that. If this thesis is correct, then we should expect the defeasibility conditions for knowledge-how and knowledge-that to be uniform—viz., that the mechanisms of epistemic defeat which undermine propositional knowledge will be equally capable of imperilling knowledge-how. The goal of this paper is twofold: first, against intellectualism, we will show that knowledge-how is in fact resilient to being undermined by (...) the very kinds of traditional (propositional) epistemic defeaters which clearly defeat the items of propositional knowledge which intellectualists identify with knowledge-how. Second, we aim to fill an important lacuna in the contemporary debate, which is to develop an alternative way in which epistemic defeat for knowledge-how could be modelled within an anti-intellectualist framework. (shrink)
Anti-Intellectualists about know-how , following Ryle, hold that knowing how to do something is simply having the ability to do it. With qualifications, I defend this traditional view. The central motivation is drawn from observations about what is involved in learning to do something. Two sorts of ability are distinguished and the thesis is defended against putative counterexamples.
Stanley and Williamson have defended the intellectualist thesis that knowing-how is a subspecies of knowing-that by appeal to the syntax and semantics of ascriptions of knowing-how. Critics have objected that this way of defending intellectualism places undue weight on linguistic considerations and fails to give sufficient attention to empirical considerations from the scientific study of the mind. In this paper, I examine and reject Stanley's recent attempt to answer the critics.
In this paper I criticize the most significant recent examples of the practical knowledge analysis of knowledge-how in the philosophical literature: David Carr [1979, Mind, 88, 394–409; 1981a, American Philosophical Quarterly, 18, 53–61; 1981b, Journal of Philosophy of Education, 15(1), 87–96] and Stanley & Williamson [2001, Journal of Philosophy, 98(8), 411–444]. I stress the importance of know-how in our contemporary understanding of the mind, and offer the beginnings of a treatment of know-how capable of providing insight in to the use (...) of know-how in contemporary cognitive science. Specifically, I claim that Carr’s necessary conditions for know-how fail to capture the distinction he himself draws between ability and knowing-how. Moreover, Carr ties knowing-how to conscious intent, and to an explicit knowledge of procedural rules. I argue that both moves are mistakes, which together render Carr’s theory an inadequate account both of common ascriptions of knowledge-how and of widely accepted ascriptions of knowledge-how within explanations in cognitive science. Finally, I note that Carr’s conditions fail to capture intuitions (heshares) regarding the ascription of know-how to persons lacking ability. I then consider the position advocated by Stanley & Williamson (2001), which seems avoid Carr’s commitments to conscious intent and explicit knowledge while still maintaining that “knowledge-how is simply a species of knowledge-that" (Stanley & Williamson, 2001, p. 411). I argue that Stanley and Williamson’s attempt to frame a reductionist view that avoids consciously occurrent beliefs during exercises of knowledge-how and explicit knowledge of procedural rules is both empirically implausible and explanatorily vacuous. In criticizing these theories I challenge the presuppositions of the most pervasive response to Ryle in the philosophic literature, what might be described as “the received view." I also establish several facts about knowing-how. First, neither conscious intent nor explicit representation (much less conscious representation) of procedural rules are necessary for knowing-how given the theory of cognition current in cognitive science. I argue that the discussed analyses fail to capture the necessary conditions for knowledge-how because know-how requires the instantiation of an ability and of the capacities necessary for exploiting an ability—not conscious awareness of purpose or explicit knowledge of rules. Second, one must understand knowledge-how as task-specific, i.e., as presupposing certain underlying conditions. Conceiving of know-how as task-specific allows one to understand ascriptions of know-how in the absence of ability as counterfactual ascriptions based upon underlying competence. (shrink)
Much of the plausibility of epistemic conservatism derives from its prospects of explaining our rationality in holding memory beliefs. In the first two parts of this paper, I argue for the inadequacy of the two standard approaches to the epistemology of memory beliefs, preservationism and evidentialism. In the third, I point out the advantages of the conservative approach and consider how well conservatism survives three of the strongest objections against it. Conservatism does survive, I claim, but only if qualified (...) in certain ways. Appropriately qualified, conservatism is no longer the powerful anti-skeptical tool some have hoped for, but a doctrine closely connected with memory. (shrink)