Program & abstracts

July 6, 2017
Room: Casino, Campus Essen

9:00-9:15 Coffee
9:15-9:30 Welcome & Introduction

Meghan Masto “Knowing-how and knowing how-it-feels”

Chair: Nicholas Laskowski

10:45-11:00 Coffee
11:00-12:15 Alfred Nordmann “Compositional knowledge-how”

Chair: Insa Lawler

12:15-2:15 Lunch at “Unperfekthaus” 
2:15-3:30 Felipe Morales “Knowing how (I can) and counterfactual success”

Chair: Miguel Hoeltje

3:30-3:45 Coffee
3:45-5:00 Berit Brogaard “Knowledge-how and perceptual learning”

Chair: Flavia Felletti

5:00-6:15 Katalin Farkas “Practical knowledge and know-why”

Chair: David Löwenstein

7:30 Dinner at “Le chat noir”

July 7, 2017
Room: Casino, Campus Essen

9:00-9:30 Coffee
9:30-10:45 Insa Lawler “Knowing why and explanatory knowing how”

Chair: Raphael van Riel

10:45-11:00 Coffee
11:00-12:15 Logan Fletcher “Knowing how and knowing why: a sensory-based account of grasping”

Chair: Raphael van Riel

12:15-2:15 Lunch at “Unperfekthaus” 
2:15-3:30 Stephen Grimm “Understanding as an intellectual virtue”

Chair: Harald Wohlrapp

3:30-3:45 Coffee
3:45-5:00 David Löwenstein “The competence of knowledge how”

Chair: Daniel James

5:00-5:30 Final discussion

Chair: Insa Lawler

6:30 Dinner at “Ponistra” 


Meghan Masto (Lafayette College) “Knowing-how and knowing how-it feels”
In this paper I develop and defend a general account of knowledge-how and apply this account to a puzzle in the philosophy of mind. The account of knowledge-how that I articulate here is an extension of the account of knowledge-wh that I defend in previous papers. In this earlier work, I have argued that knowledge ascriptions with wh-clauses as complements (e.g. “Ann knows where the game is being played.”) as well as knowledge ascriptions with concealed questions as complements (e.g. “Ben knows the Governer’s middle name.”) say that the subject stands in the knowledge relation to a question. I claim that this view avoids the problems facing other accounts of knowledge-wh and offers a unified account of knowledge-the, knowledge-wh, and other attitudes with interrogative complements. Here I extend that account to knowing-how ascriptions in particular, and I draw out the implications of this account for our ability to know how it feels to F, and to know what it’s like to F. I argue that knowing how it feels to F ascriptions as well as knowing what it’s like to F ascriptions assert that the subject can answer the question “What is it like to F?” And I claim that answering this question involves recognizing the right answer to the question. I also argue that this understanding of knowing how and knowing what it’s like, undermines the ability reply of the sort offered by David Lewis to the Jackon/Nagel type arguments. I also point out that even if the ability account of knowing-what-its-like seemed plausible, that its, even if knowing what it’s like importantly involves know-how, know-how ascriptions with interrogative complements deserve the same treatment as other attitudes with interrogative complements and so will not get the physicalist out of trouble in the way suggested by Lewis et al.

Alfred Nordmann (TU Darmstadt) “Compositional knowledge-how”
Among the varieties of knowing how is knowledge of how to compose things or put things together such that they can perform work. Works of art and technology are composed and require for their creation, maintenance, use and repair knowledge of how things are properly or rightly arranged in a working order. In which way does this knowledge explain or promote understanding, how is it related to representational, that is, theoretical and veridical knowledge? The presentation seeks to articulate a compositional knowledge of things that falls mystically behind Kant and that claim an immediate or embodied knowledge of the things themselves.

Felipe Morales (KU Leuven) “Knowing how (I can) and counterfactual success”
In this talk, I examine the connection between knowing how to x, knowing how one can x and knowledge that one is able to x. In particular, I examine the role counterfactual success (CS) plays in this connection. Hawley (2003) has argued that knowing how to x requires CS, which in turn makes knowing how to x entail either knowledge that one can x, or, at the very least, knowability that one can x. Spencer (2017) argues that ability does not require counterfactual success. He shows that there are cases of able individuals who necessarily fail to exercise their capacities. I extend his analysis to show how knowledge how could not require counterfactual success: following Spencer’s model, it is possible to build cases where some individual knows how they could exercise their abilities and still be counterfactually prevented to exercise them. As expected, this has several consequences for the intellectualist/ant-intellectualist debate, and I examine several ways one could handle Spencer’s cases in this context.

Berit Brogaard  (University of Miami) “Knowledge-how and perceptual learning”
Epistemologists have been divided into two camps with respect to the analysis of knowledge-how. According to intellectualists, knowledge-how is not essentially ability-involving, but requires implicit or explicit beliefs about a procedure that can lead to a desired outcome. According to anti-intellectualists, knowledge-how is essentially ability-involving and need not involve implicit or explicit beliefs about any procedures. Here I argue that both views have currency but with respect to different types of knowledge-how. Intellectualism is best suited as an account of knowledge-how that results from being able to consciously access information about a particular procedure that can lead to a desired end result, for instance, knowing how to make Chana Masala by following a recipe, knowing how to make Google the default search engine in Safari and knowing how to get from Coral Gables to Miami Beach by using a map. Anti-intellectualism, on the other hand, is best suited as an account of knowledge-how that is grounded in expertise acquired through perceptual or proprioceptive learning. Examples of the latter include knowing how to use a ski lift, knowing how to play chess at an expert level and knowing how to determine the sex of a day-old chick.

Katalin Farkas (CEU) “Practical knowledge and know-why”
Practical knowledge is often attributed by saying that someone „knows how“ to do something. This kind of practical know-how often involves distinctive kinds of know-wh — knowing when, or where, or how fast, or how soon, to do something. In this talk, I’ll focus on „knowing why“, and ask what kind of „know why“ is involved in practical knowledge

Insa Lawler (University of Duisburg-Essen) “Knowing why and explanatory knowing how”
Knowing why p can be constituted by what I dub shallow knowledge-why which consists in knowing that a particular explanatory dependence relation between the phenomenon described by the explanandum and the phenomenon described by the explanans obtains. Knowing that (Julia had hives because she ate peanuts) but not how eating the peanuts led to her hives is an example of such knowledge-why. But knowing why p can also be constituted by what I dub explanatory knowing how which consists in knowing how the explanandum-phenomenon depends on the explanans-phenomenon in particular, such as knowledge of the underlying causal process. After defending objections against the conception of shallow knowledge-why, I illuminate the conception of explanatory knowing how. I argue that explanatory knowing how is propositional knowledge whose content ranges from instances of (p because q) beliefs to bodies of connected propositions. Minimally, it requires knowledge of an explanation sketch, but it does not require predictive knowing how, i.e. the ability to answer what-if-things-had-been-different questions (contra Grimm 2014). Finally, I argue that shallow knowledge-why and explanatory knowing how are gradable (contra Stanley 2004).

Logan Fletcher (University of British Columbia) “Knowing how and knowing why – a sensory based account of grasping”
In this paper, I consider the epistemic states of ‘knowing how’ and ‘knowing why’ in the sense of grasping or seeing or understanding how something works, or why something is the case. The central question is what the mental act of ‘grasping’ consists in. On the most promising version of the ability account, grasping is primarily a grasping of dependency relations, one constituted by a (distinct) kind of ‘knowhow’, amounting to a competence in evaluating counterfactuals. While this is a promising start, the proposal faces a problem: How could a merely dispositional ability possibly constitute an occurrent act of grasping?
I argue that to gain perspective on this problem, it is useful to consider cases of sensory grasping, which qualify as instances of seeing how or seeing why in a sense of ‘seeing’ that is plausibly literal. I examine two such cases: grasping how Archimedes’ screw works, and grasping why the Pythagorean theorem is true, in both cases in relation to visual diagrams.
The analysis of these cases ends up having important consequences for the ability account, by confirming the correctness of its core idea, while highlighting some necessary refinements. In both cases, grasping turns out to depend on the ‘animation’ of the diagram in visual imagination, consisting in imaginative rehearsals of spatial transformations, which are projected onto the subject’s visual experience of the diagram. In accordance with the ability account, these visual operations enact a form of knowhow, one that serves to ground inferences of a distinctively ‘ifthen’ character. Against the ability account, it is not the passive possession of abilities, but rather their active exercise, which collectively realize the mental act of grasping in these cases. The upshot is an account that regards (sensory) grasping as constituted by occurrent imaginative probing of the structure of relevant dependency relations.

Stephen Grimm (Fordham University & Cambridge University) “Understanding as an intellectual virtue”
In this paper I elucidate various ways in which understanding can be seen as an excellence of the mind or intellectual virtue. Along the way, I take up the neglected issue of what it might mean to be an „understanding person“—by which I mean not a person who understands a number of things about the natural world, but a person who steers clear of things like judgmentalism in her evaluation of other people, and thus is better able to take up different perspectives and view them with a sympathetic eye.  Being an understanding person in this sense seems to be a character-level virtue that interestingly combines moral and epistemic elements; it also seems to be a virtue particularly needed in our age of deep political division, where it is commonly said that failures of mutual understanding are partly to blame for this problem.

David Löwenstein (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt) “The competence of knowledge how”
I present a unified account of knowledge how in terms of competence. I begin with the most prominent sub-species of knowledge how — knowledge how to do something — and present an account of such know-how in terms of competence. Then, I suggest a general account of all forms of knowledge how in terms of competence, including cases such as knowledge how a computer works. While knowledge how to A is understood as the competence to A, other kinds of knowledge how will be explained as other kinds of competences, all of which are essentially conceptual. This proposal will be contrasted with other analyses of knowledge how which mainly rely on linguistic considerations. I show that my proposal is equally compatible with the linguistic data and that it allows for a uniform explanation of several distinct theoretical proposals which have been made on this basis.