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The Presidential Address: Knowing How and Knowing That: A Distinction Reconsidered

Paul Snowdon
Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society
New Series, Vol. 104 (2004), pp. 1-29
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Aristotelian Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4545403
Page Count: 29
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The Presidential Address: Knowing How and Knowing That: A Distinction Reconsidered
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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to raise some questions about the idea, which was first made prominent by Gilbert Ryle, and has remained associated with him ever since, that there are at least two types of knowledge (or to put it in a slightly different way, two types of states ascribed by knowledge ascriptions) identified, on the one hand, as the knowledge (or state) which is expressed in the 'knowing that' construction (sometimes called, for fairly obvious reasons, 'propositional' or 'factual' knowledge) and, on the other, as the knowledge (or state) which is ascribed in the 'knowing how' construction (sometimes called 'practical' knowledge). This idea, which might be said to be Ryle's most lasting philosophical legacy, has, in some vague form, remained part of conventional wisdom in philosophy since he put it forward. My purpose here is fairly accurately described as 'raising questions', since both the criticisms of the received view (as I interpret it), and the positive alternative suggestions to be advanced, are, to some extent, tentative and exploratory. The aim is to assemble a broad range of evidence for the conclusion that we need to replace the standard account, to query especially what Ryle suggested as evidence for it, and to explore what seems to me to be the indicated replacement for it.

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