Know-How, Action, and Luck

Synthese (forthcoming)
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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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Archival date: 2018-04-20
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2018-04-20

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