How to be skilful: opportunistic robustness and normative sensitivity
In a recent article, Fridland (Synthese 191:2729–2750, 2014a) characterises a central capacity of skill users, an aspect she calls ‘control’. Control, according to Fridland, is evidenced in the way in which skill users are able to marshal a variety of mental and bodily resources in order to keep skill deployment operating fluidly and appropriately. According to Fridland, two prevalent contemporary accounts of skill—Stanley & Krakauer’s (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7:1–11, 2013) and Hubert Dreyfus’s (Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 1:367–383, 2002)—fail to account for the features of control, and do so necessarily. While I agree with Fridland that features of control represent desiderata for a satisfactory characterisation of the capacity of skills to respond to perturbations, I argue that her account is limited in two ways; first it is applicable only to a particular class of skills I call motor skills, leaving other classes of skills unaccounted for; second, she employs a problematic distinction that rules out the automatic and pre-reflective use of discursive, propositional cues in skill deployment. I put forward a critical elaboration of Fridland’s account based on two more general characteristic features of skills I call opportunistic robustness and normative sensitivity. I suggest that these features avoid the difficulties isolated, while preserving the substance of Fridland’s account of control.
KeywordsSkill Normativity Rationality Intellectualism Phenomenology Control
I am extremely grateful to Christopher Clarke, Helen Curry, Ellen Fridland, Tim Lewens, and two anonymous referees for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper. I also thank Peter Jancewicz for the many conversations that have inspired my reflection on skills, and for being an incredible piano teacher, despite what I may have suggested here. Thank you, Peter. Finally, the research leading to this paper has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement No. 284123.
- Clark, A. (1997). Being there. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Crane, T. (2013). The given. In J. K. Schear (Ed.), Mind, reason, and being-in-the-World. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Dreyfus, H. L. (1972). What computers can’t do. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
- Dreyfus, H. L. (1991). Being-in-the-World. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Dreyfus, H. L. (1997). Intuitive, deliberative, and calculative models of expert performance. In C. E. Zsambok & G. Klein (Eds.), Naturalistic decision making. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.Google Scholar
- Dreyfus, H. L. (2000). Could anything be more intelligible than everyday intelligibility? Reinterpreting division I of Being and Time in the light of division II. In J. E. Faulconer & M. A. Wrathall (Eds.), Appropriating heidegger (pp. 155–174). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Dreyfus, H. L. (2005). Merleau-Ponty and recent cognitive science. In T. Carman & M. B. N. Hansen (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Dreyfus, H. L. (2007c). Reply to Romdenh-Romluc. In T. Baldwin (Ed.), Reading Merleau-Ponty: On phenomenology of perception (pp. 59–69). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Dreyfus, H. L. (2013). The myth of the pervasiveness of the mental. In J. K. Schear (Ed.), Mind, reason, and Being-in-the-World. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Dreyfus, H. L., & Dreyfus, S. (1980). A five-stage model of the mental activities involved in directed skill acquisition. University of California at Berkeley Operations Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.dtic.mil/docs/citations/ADA084551.
- Dreyfus, H. L., & Dreyfus, S. (1986). Mind over machine: The power of human intuitive expertise in the era of the computer. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Ericsson, K. A. (2006). The influence of experience and deliberate practice on the development of superior expert performance. In K. A. Ericsson, N. Charness, P. J. Feltovich & R. R. Hoffman (Eds.), The cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Freeman, W. (2000). Neurodynamics. London: Springer-Verlag Ltd.Google Scholar
- Fridland, E. (2012). Knowing-How: Problems and Considerations. European Journal of Philosophy,. doi: 10.1111/ejop.12000.
- Fridland, E. (2014a). They’ve lost control: Reflections on skill. Synthese, 191(12), 2729–2750.Google Scholar
- Fridland, E. (2014b). Automatically minded. Synthese. doi: 10.1007/s11229-014-0617-9.
- Gardner, S. (2013). Transcendental philosophy and the possibility of the given. In J. K. Schear (Ed.), Mind, Reason, and Being-in-the-World. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Haugeland, J. (1985). Artificial intelligence: The very idea. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Kiverstein, J. (2012). What is Heideggerian cognitive science? In J. Kiverstein & M. Wheeler (Eds.), Heidegger and cognitive science. Palgrave-Macmillian: Houndsmills.Google Scholar
- Merleau-Ponty, M. (2012) Phenomenology of Perception (D. A. Landes, Trans.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Rietveld, (2012). Context-switching and responsiveness to real relevance. In J. Kiverstein & W. Wheeler (Eds.), Heidegger and cognitive science. Palgrave Macmillan: Houndsmills.Google Scholar
- Stranahan, E. (2013). Gabby Douglas post Olympic Trials Press Interview. Gymnastike. Retrived from http://www.gymnastike.org/coverage/247899-2012-Olympic-Team-Trials/blog/46856-Gabby-Douglas-post-Olympic-Trials-Press-Interview.
- Wrathall, M. (2005). Motives, reasons, and causes. In T. Carman & M. B. N. Hansen (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Zahavi, D. (2005). Subjectivity and selfhood. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Zahavi, D. (2013). Mindedness, mindlessness, and first-person authority. In J. Schear (Ed.), Mind, reason, and being-in-the-world: The McDowell-Dreyfus debate (pp. 320–343). London: Routledge.Google Scholar