Practical Knowledge and Luminosity

Mind 129 (516):1237-1267 (2019)
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Many philosophers hold that if an agent acts intentionally, she must know what she is doing. Although the scholarly consensus for many years was to reject the thesis in light of presumed counterexamples by Donald Davidson, several scholars have recently argued that attention to aspectual distinctions and the practical nature of this knowledge shows that these counterexamples fail. In this paper I defend a new objection against the thesis, one modelled after Timothy Williamson’s anti-luminosity argument. Since this argument relies on general principles about the nature of knowledge rather than on intuitions about fringe cases, the recent responses that have been given to defuse the force of Davidson’s objection are silent against it. Moreover, the argument suggests that even weaker theses connecting practical entities with knowledge are also false. Recent defenders of the thesis that there is a necessary connection between knowledge and intentional action are motivated by the insight that this connection is non-accidental. I close with a positive proposal to account for the non-accidentality of this link without appeal to necessary connections by drawing an extended analogy between practical and perceptual knowledge.
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Archival date: 2019-10-02
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