Knowledge-how, Linguistic Intellectualism, and Ryle's Return

In Stefan Tolksdorf (ed.), Conceptions of Knowledge. De Gruyter. pp. 269-304 (2011)
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How should we understand knowledge-how – knowledge how to do something? And how is it related to knowledge-that – knowledge that something is the case? In this paper, I will discuss a very important and influential aspect of this question, namely the claim – dubbed ‘Intellectualism’ by Gilbert Ryle – that knowledge-how can be reduced to knowledge-that. Recently, Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson have tried to establish Intellectualism with the aid of linguistic considerations. This project – Linguistic Intellectualism – will be criticized on three levels. First, I will reconstruct and object to Stanley and Williamson’s positive argument in favour of Intellectualism. Second, I will assess their view of the relationship between knowledge-how and practical ability and argue that their stance is not well-motivated. Third, I will discuss their criticism of Ryle’s objection against Intellectualism. After distinguishing between different versions of Ryle’s argument, I will show that its strongest version is both immune to the objection by Stanley and Williamson and a decisive argument against their own theory. Given that Intellectualism fails for these three reasons, I finally draw on a broader reading of Ryle in order to develop the beginnings of a positive account of knowledge-how and its relationship to knowledge-that.
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