Know-how, action, and luck

Synthese 198 (Suppl 7):1595-1617 (2018)
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Abstract

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.

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Author's Profile

Carlotta Pavese
Cornell University

Citations of this work

Knowing How.Yuri Cath - 2019 - Analysis 79 (3):487-503.
Modal Virtue Epistemology.Bob Beddor & Carlotta Pavese - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (1):61-79.
Know-How and Gradability.Carlotta Pavese - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (3):345-383.
Skill in epistemology II: Skill and know how.Carlotta Pavese - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (11):650-660.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Origins of Objectivity.Tyler Burge - 2010 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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