Practical knowledge first

Synthese 200 (5):1-18 (2022)
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This idea that what is distinctive of intentional performances (or at least of those intentional performances that amount to skilled actions) is one’s practical knowledge in it —i.e., knowledge of what one is doing while doing it— famously traces back to Anscombe ([]1963] 2000). While many philosophers have theorized about Anscombe’s notion of practical knowledge (e.g., Setiya (2008), Thompson et al. (2011), Schwenkler (2019), O’Brien (2007)), there is a wide disagreement about how to understand it. This paper investigates how best to understand practical knowledge for it to play the desired explanatory role in a reductive theory of intentional action, of intention-in-action, and of control-in-action. I argue that practical knowledge ought to be construed as a dynamic knowledge state and that structured practical senses (Pavese 2015) are needed to model it.

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Carlotta Pavese
Cornell University


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