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Ryle On Knowing How: An Interpretation And Defence

Clarke, HHP; (2012) Ryle On Knowing How: An Interpretation And Defence. Masters thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This essay provides an interpretation and defence of Gilbert Ryle's discussion of knowing how, which has hitherto received relatively little attention given the importance of his remarks to the contemporary literature. I argue that Ryle offers an account of knowing how which can be contrasted with both so-called 'intellectualist' and 'neo-Rylean' theories. This consists of two claims concerning the conditions for the psychological state of having an ability, which on Ryle's implicit definition can be termed 'knowing how'. Abilities of this kind consist in reliable success, where this success can be attributed to the agent who possesses the ability. The negative claim is that knowing how to do a kind of activity does not require being in any mental state with propositional content. The positive claim is that it is necessary and sufficient for knowing how to do an activity of some kind that one is disposed to act in accordance with learned rules when carrying out that activity. I then defend this account against objections drawn from linguistic and psychological considerations. The aim is to treat these two areas of objection in general by looking at two specific objections and showing why they do not work. Although critical accounts of Ryle's theory in the recent literature have mainly focused on the erroneous neo-Rylean interpretation, I apply the two objections to the Rylean theory properly understood. The two objections are Stanley and Williamson's much-discussed linguistic argument for the claim that knowing how is a kind of knowing that, and Bengson and Moffett's argument from conceptual understanding. I argue that these objections suffer from lack of support, and give an account of the structure of the constitutive conditions of knowing how to demonstrate why this is the case that arises from considering some remarks of Michael Dummett's.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: Ryle On Knowing How: An Interpretation And Defence
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Knowing how, Gilbert Ryle, Intelligence, Abilities
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1347921
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