Transmitting Understanding and Know-How

In Stephen Hetherington & Nicholas D. Smith (eds.), What the Ancients Offer to Contemporary Epistemology. New York, USA: Routledge (2020)
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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.

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Stephen Grimm
Fordham University


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