Volume Introduction: Gilbert Ryle on Propositions, Propositional Attitudes, and Theoretical Knowledge

Julia Tanney


In the introduction to the special volume, Gilbert Ryle: Intelligence, Practice and Skill, Julia Tanney introduces the contributions of Michael Kremer, Stina Bäckström and Martin Gustafsson, and Will Small, each of which indicates concern about the appropriation of Ryle’s distinction between knowing-how and knowing-that in seminal work in contemporary epistemology. Expressing agreement with the authors that something has gone awry in these borrowings from Ryle, Tanney takes this criticism to a deeper level. She argues that the very notion of content-bearing, causally-efficacious mental states, let alone representational states of knowledge-that or knowledge-how, embodies the very presuppositions that Ryle calls into question in his rejection of classical theories of meaning and his related warning of the type-errors involved in conflating rational and mechanistic explanation. That these mental posits are presupposed, unchallenged, in today’s debates make his arguments against intellectualism particularly difficult to discern.

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Bäckström, Stina and Martin Gustafsson, 2017. “Skill, Drill, and Intelligent Performance: Ryle and Intellectualism.” Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 5.5: 40–55. (This issue.)

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———, 2017. “What Knowledge is Not: Reflections on Some Uses of the Verb ‘To Know’.” In Knowledge in Contemporary Philosophy, edited by Markos Valaris and Stephen Hetherington. New York and London: Bloomsbury Academic.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15173/jhap.v5i5.3203

Julia Tanney