Giovanni Rolla


KNOWLEDGE-THAT and KNOWLEDGE-HOW as prototypical concepts? A new argument against intellectualism

February 12, 2021

Early in 2019 my good friend Arthur Lopes (who works at Federal University of Paraíba) and I began to sketch a new argument against intellectualism about know-how. A few years prior he had argued that the concept of KNOWLEDGE-THAT (K-T)does not have a prototypical structure due to its highly abstract nature, which in turn prevents competent users to identify paradigmatic instances of K-T.  I suggested that maybe because knowing-how always involves effectively acting in one's socio-material environment (for instance, by exercising certain inherited and developed abilities), the concept of KNOWING-HOW (K-H) may have a prototypical structure. If that is the case, K-H and K-T have different structures and it is less likely one can reduce K-H to K-T (unless we assume K-H is K-T plus something else). We then invited the talented Felipe Novaes to conceive of a series of questions to test whether competent users of Portuguese are able recognize paradigmatic cases of K-H and K-T. We speculate that, when confronted with pairs of different ascriptions of K-T, there won't be a significant statistical divergence between which  one is more paradigmatic of K-T. However, we speculate that, when confronted with different ascriptions of K-H, users will be more likely to identify the case that involves more (or more complex) abilities to be more paradigmatic of K-H. This study is going to be conducted in Portuguese first and hopefully in English later on.