Knowledge-how, understanding-why, and epistemic luck: an experimental study

Carter, J. A. , Pritchard, D. and Shepherd, J. (2018) Knowledge-how, understanding-why, and epistemic luck: an experimental study. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, (Accepted for Publication)

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Abstract

Reductive intellectualists about knowledge-how (e.g., Stanley & Williamson 2001; Stanley 2011a, 2011b; Brogaard 2008a, 2008b, 2009, 2011) hold, contra Ryle (1946, 1949), that knowing how to do something is just a kind of propositional knowledge. In a similar vein, traditional reductivists about understanding-why (e.g., Salmon 1984; Lipton 2004; Woodward 2003; Grimm 2006; Greco 2009; Kelp 2014) insist, in accordance with a tradition beginning with Aristotle, that the epistemic standing one attains when one understands why something is so is itself just a kind of propositional knowledge—viz., propositional knowledge of causes. A point that has been granted on both sides of these debates is that if these reductive proposals are right, then knowledge-how and understandingwhy should be susceptible to the same extent as knowledge-that is to being undermined by epistemic luck. This paper reports experimental results that test these luck-based predictions. Interestingly, these results suggest a striking (albeit, imperfect) positive correlation between self-reported philosophical expertise and attributions of knowledge-how, understanding-why and knowledge-that which run contrary to reductive proposals. We contextualize these results by showing how they align very well with a particular kind of overarching non-reductive proposal, one that two of the authors have defended elsewhere (e.g., Carter & Pritchard 2015a; 2015b; 2015c) according to which knowledge-how and understanding-why, but not knowledge-that, essentially involve cognitive achievement (i.e., cognitive success that is primarily creditable to cognitive ability). We conclude by situating the interpretive narrative advanced within contemporary discussions about the role of expertise in philosophical judgment.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Accepted for Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Carter, Dr Joseph
Authors: Carter, J. A., Pritchard, D., and Shepherd, J.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Journal Name:Review of Philosophy and Psychology
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1878-5158
ISSN (Online):1878-5166

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