Testimonial Knowledge-How

Erkenntnis 84 (4):895-912 (2019)
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There is an emerging skepticism about the existence of testimonial knowledge-how :387–404, 2010; Poston in Noûs 50:865–878, 2016; Carter and Pritchard in Philos Phenomenol Res 91:181–199, 2015a). This is unsurprising since a number of influential approaches to knowledge-how struggle to accommodate testimonial knowledge-how. Nonetheless, this scepticism is misguided. This paper establishes that there are cases of easy testimonial knowledge-how. It is structured as follows: first, a case is presented in which an agent acquires knowledge-how simply by accepting a speaker’s testimony. Second, it is argued that this knowledge-how is genuinely testimonial. Next, Poston’s arguments against easy testimonial knowledge-how are considered and rejected. The implications of the argument differ for intellectualists and anti-intellectualists about knowledge-how. The intellectualist must reject widespread assumptions about the communicative preconditions for the acquisition of testimonial knowledge. The anti-intellectualist must find a way of accommodating the dependence of knowledge-how on speaker reliability. It is not clear how this can be done.

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Andrew Peet
Umeå University


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