The linguistic argument for intellectualism

Synthese 190 (12):2325-2340 (2013)
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A central argument against Ryle’s (The concept of mind, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1949) distinction between propositional and non propositional knowledge has relied on linguistic evidence. Stanley and Williamson (J Philos 98:411–444, 2001) have claimed that knowing-how ascriptions do not differ in any relevant syntactic or semantic respect from ascriptions of propositional knowledge, concluding thereby that knowing-how ascriptions attribute propositional knowledge, or a kind thereof. In this paper I examine the cross-linguistic basis of this argument. I focus on the linguistic analysis of practical knowledge ascriptions in Modern Greek, although the issues raised are not restricted to one language. It is relatively straightforward to show that none of the three types of practical knowledge ascriptions in Modern Greek is an embedded question configuration, and hence Stanley and Williamson original claim is confined to certain languages only. This is not the end of the matter, however, since Stanley (Nous 45:207–238, 2011) argues that the equivalents of ‘knowing-how’ ascriptions in certain languages should be semantically analyzed as embedded questions despite their syntactic form. I argue that this fallback position faces a host of empirical and theoretical problems, in view of which it cannot bear the weight Stanley puts on it, supporting a conclusion about the kind of knowledge thereby attributed



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Christos Douskos
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Citations of this work

Know-how as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account.David Löwenstein - 2017 - Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann.
What's the point of knowing how?Joshua Habgood-Coote - 2019 - European Journal of Philosophy 27 (3):693-708.
Knowledge How.Jeremy Fantl - 2012 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Cross-linguistic Studies in Epistemology.Davide Fassio & Jie Gao - forthcoming - In Kurt Sylvan, Matthias Steup, Ernest Sosa & Jonathan Dancy (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Epistemology, 3rd edition. Wiley-Blackwell.

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References found in this work

The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1950 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 1 (4):328-332.
Knowing How.Jason Stanley & Timothy Willlamson - 2001 - Journal of Philosophy 98 (8):411-444.

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