Ability Theories of Practice and Turner’s Criticism of Bourdieu


DOI: 10.1007/s10838-016-9355-7

Cite this article as:
Zahle, J. J Gen Philos Sci (2016). doi:10.1007/s10838-016-9355-7


The aim of this paper is to provide a characterization of ability theories of practice and, in this process, to defend Pierre Bourdieu’s ability theory against Stephen Turner’s objections. In part I, I outline ability theorists’ conception of practices together with their objections to claims about rule following and rule explanations. In part II, I turn to the question of what ability theorists take to be the alternative to rule following and rule explanations. Ability theorists have offered, and been ascribed, somewhat different answers to this question, just as their replies, or positive accounts, have been heavily criticized by Turner. Due to this state of the debate, I focus on the positive account advanced by a single—and highly famous—ability theorist of practice, Pierre Bourdieu. Moreover, I show that despite Turner’s claims to the contrary, his arguments do not refute Bourdieu’s positive account.


Abilities Bourdieu Rules Tacit knowledge Theories of practice Turner 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Philosophy, Department of Media, Cognition and CommunicationUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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