Knowing how, basic actions, and ways of doing things

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (8):956-977 (2019)
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This paper investigates whether we can know how to do basic actions, from the perspective according to which knowing how to do something requires knowledge of a way to do it. A key argument from this perspective against basic know-how is examined and is found to be unsound, involving the false premise that there are no ways of doing basic actions. However, a new argument along similar lines is then developed, which contends that there are no ways of doing basic actions in any sense that matters for acquiring knowledge-how. This requires coming to a deeper understanding of ways of doing things than has hitherto been sought, which should be useful for further theorizing in this area. It is concluded that analyses of knowing-how in terms of knowledge of ways are inconsistent with the common assumption that there is basic know-how.

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Kevin Lynch
Huaqiao University


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