Practical knowledge without practical expertise: the social cognitive extension via outsourcing

Philosophical Studies 180 (4):1255-1275 (2023)
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Practical knowledge is discussed in close relation to practical expertise. For both anti-intellectualists and intellectualists, the knowledge of how to φ is widely assumed to entail the practical expertise in φ-ing. This paper refutes this assumption. I argue that non-experts can know how to φ via other experts’ knowledge of φ-ing. Know-how can be ‘outsourced’. I defend the outsourceability of know-how, and I refute the objections that reduce outsourced know-how to the knowledge of how to ask for help, of how to get things done, or of external contents. Interestingly, outsourcing differs from social cooperation, collective agency, testimonial transmission, and many other notions in social-epistemological debates. Thus, outsourcing provides not only a hitherto unconsidered form of know-how but also a novel way for knowledge to be social. Furthermore, outsourcing plausibly involves a ‘social’ cognitive extension that does not rest on EMT or HEC. Given the outsourceability of know-how, we must reconsider the nature of know-how and expertise, as well as the relation between non-experts and experts.

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Xiaoxing Zhang
Yunnan University


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