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Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 12, pp 3191–3209 | Cite as

The Special Ability View of knowledge-how

  • Peter J. Markie
Article

Abstract

Propositionalism explains the nature of knowledge-how as follows:

P: To know how to ϕ is to stand in a special propositional attitude relation to propositions about how to ϕ. To know how to ride a bike is to have the required propositional attitude to propositions about how to do so. Dispositionalism offers an alternative view.

D: To know how to ϕ is to stand in a behavioral-dispositional relation, a being-able-to relation, to ϕ-ing. To know how to ride a bike is to have an ability to do so in the form of a complex disposition to behave in ways that constitute bike riding. Objectualism presents a third option.

O: To know how to ϕ is to stand in a non-propositional, non-behavioral-dispositional objective attitude relation to a way of j-ing.

To know how to ride a bike is to have an objectual attitude, perhaps a form of knowledge of, to a way of doing so.

Dispositionalism is often dismissed on the basis of two criticisms designed to show its shortcomings relative to Propositionalism and Objectualism. According to the Epistemic Improvement Objection, Dispositionalism cannot account for the fact that gaining knowledge-how is an improvement in our epistemic state. According to the Modified Ability Objection, it cannot account for the fact that being able to do something is neither necessary nor sufficient for knowing how to do it. I develop a form of Dispositionalism, the Special Ability View, that avoids both objections.

Keywords

Knowledge-how Knowledge-that Objectual knowledge Intellectualism Anti-intellectualism Propositional justification Propositionalism Dispositionalism Objectualism 

Notes

Acknowledgments

My thanks to several commentators and referees and especially to Justin McBrayer, Matt McGrath, and Andrew Moon for helpful comments and criticisms of earlier drafts of this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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