Philosophical Studies

, Volume 136, Issue 1, pp 31–57

Know-how and concept possession


DOI: 10.1007/s11098-007-9146-4

Cite this article as:
Bengson, J. & Moffett, M.A. Philos Stud (2007) 136: 31. doi:10.1007/s11098-007-9146-4


We begin with a puzzle: why do some know-how attributions entail ability attributions while others do not? After rejecting the tempting response that know-how attributions are ambiguous, we argue that a satisfactory answer to the puzzle must acknowledge the connection between know-how and concept possession (specifically, reasonable conceptual mastery, or understanding). This connection appears at first to be grounded solely in the cognitive nature of certain activities. However, we show that, contra anti-intellectualists, the connection between know-how and concept possession can be generalized via reflection on the cognitive nature of intentional action and the potential of certain misunderstandings to undermine know-how even when the corresponding abilities and associated propositional knowledge are in place. Such considerations make explicit the intimate relation between know-how and understanding, motivating a general intellectualist analysis of the former in terms of the latter.


Know-how Concept possession Ability Propositional knowledge Understanding Intellectualism 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA

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