, Volume 191, Issue 12, pp 2729–2750 | Cite as

They’ve lost control: reflections on skill

  • Ellen Fridland


In this paper, I submit that it is the controlled part of skilled action, that is, that part of an action that accounts for the exact, nuanced ways in which a skilled performer modifies, adjusts and guides her performance for which an adequate, philosophical theory of skill must account. I will argue that neither Jason Stanley nor Hubert Dreyfus have an adequate account of control. Further, and perhaps surprisingly, I will argue that both Stanley and Dreyfus relinquish an account of control for precisely the same reason: each reduce control to a passive, mechanistic, automatic process, which then prevents them from producing a substantive account of how controlled processes can be characterized by seemingly intelligent features and integrated with personal-level states. I will end by introducing three different kinds of control, which are constitutive of skilled action: strategic control, selective, top–down, automatic attention, and motor control. It will become clear that Dreyfus cannot account for any of these three kinds of control while Stanley has difficulty tackling the two latter kinds.


Skill Know how Control Automaticity Intellectualism  Anti-intellectualism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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