Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Knowing How to Know

Massively Unreflective Ralph has no attitudes whatsoever about any of his attitudes. This massive unreflectiveness is no obstacle to Ralph’s having some propositional knowledge. After all, one need not have attitudes about attitudes in order to know. So let’s suppose that Ralph is a knower. Then it is intuitive to count Ralph as someone who knows how to know things. After all, he succeeds in knowing some things. But on Stanley and Williamson’s account of knowledge how, if Ralph knows how to know that A, then he knows that B is a way to know that A under a “practical mode of presentation”. As this conflicts with the supposition that Ralph is massively unreflective, it follows that any situation so conceived is impossible or Stanley and Williamson’s account is incorrect.

I have things to say about some possible replies I've thought of but I was wondering what others think.


Blogger Joshua said...

It seems not implausible to say that Ralph doesn't really know how to know things. He just happens to know some things without knowing how it is done. So, it seems not implausible to deny the claim that

(X) if Ralph is a knower, then he knows how to know things.

In fact, I have become more convinced that this is the case after thinking about it a bit.

Here is an example that might motivate us to think that (X) is false. Consider a guy who happens to have no reflective beliefs on ownership. However, he happens to also own a piece of land that he inherited. Maybe he even hangs out on the land but has no thoughts about the fact that it is his. It seems slightly plausible to say that although he owns the land, he doesn't know how to own land.

Perhaps the case above is bad or perhaps the analogy is tenuous. But, I am still inclined to think my initial judgment was correct. I am just not sure about how to defend it.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Joshua said...

Why have you forsaken me?

9:18 AM  

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