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MA Thesis Defense: Michael Lara

June 22 @ 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Michael Lara (Cal State Long Beach)
‘On multidimensional gradability: a refutation of the false dichotomy in knowing how’
22 Jun 2021  •  2:00pm–4:00pm  •  online

Abstract: This thesis argues that the literature on know-how—the kind of knowledge that is responsible for intelligent performances and abilities—is built on a false dichotomy of theoretical positions. Most authors in the literature take it to be the case that one must take a stance between the anti-intellectualism, according to which abilities are the sole epistemic basis of know-how attributions, and intellectualism, according to which propositional knowledge is the sole epistemic basis of know-how attributions. I argue for a third theoretical position—pluralism about know-how—and outline the possible versions of pluralism that are found implicitly and explicitly in the literature. This work contains both a positive and negative account. Negatively, I outline the reasons one ought to reject the purist versions of both intellectualism and anti-intellectualism. For the intellectualists, one instance of know-how that contains non-trivial contributions from abilities renders the position null. For the anti-intellectualist, one instance of know-how that contains non-trivial contributions from propositional knowledge renders the position null. Positively, I reveal that the purist versions of both positions implicitly argue for a kind of pluralism, leading me to present my own view—ability asymmetry pluralism—which always requires the non-trivial contribution of abilities and can also accommodate the non-trivial contribution of propositional knowledge. In doing so, I introduce a decision-theoretic model of multi-dimensional gradability which naturally explains and predicts comparative instances of know-how.

Oral defenses are open to the public. For a draft copy of the thesis in advance, please contact Michael <michael.lara@student.csulb.edu> directly.


June 22
2:00 pm - 4:30 pm




Charles Wallis