A pragmatic understanding of “knowing that” and “knowing how”: The pivotal role of conceptual structures

  • Daniel Rochowiak
Keynote Address
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 1257)


What is the difference between knowing that a cake is baked and knowing how to bake a cake? In each, the core concepts are the same, “cake” and “baking,” yet there seems to be a significant difference. The classical distinction between “knowing that” and “knowing how” points to the pivotal role of conceptual structures in both reasoning about and using knowledge. Peirce's recognition of this pivotal role is most clearly seen in the pragmatic maxim that links theoretical and practical maxims. By extending Peirce's pragmatism with the notion of a general argument pattern, the relation between conceptual structures and these ways of knowing can be understood in terms of the “filling instructions” for concepts. Since a robust account of conceptual structures must be able to handle both the context of “knowing that” and “knowing how,” it would seem reasonable to think that there will be multiple representations for the “filling instructions.” This in turn suggests that a methodological principle of tolerance between those approaches that stress the theoretical understanding of concepts appropriate to “knowing that” and those that stress the proceduralist understanding of concepts appropriate to “knowing how” is desirable.


Conceptual Structure Procedural Knowledge Knowledge Claim Robust Account Declarative Knowledge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Rochowiak
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Alabama in HuntsvilleUSA

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