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Practical Knowledge Within Our Means

Schulz, Benjamin (2019) Practical Knowledge Within Our Means. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Is the will a capacity for knowledge? I argue that it is. More precisely, I argue that we possess a distinctive kind of ungrounded self-knowledge of our intentional actions. After defending this epistemological claim against putative counterexamples, I offer a metaphysical argument in support of its truth. On my view, the possession of such knowledge follows from the nature of an intentional action, from what an intentional action is. To show why this is so, I develop and defend an account of intentional action upon which such actions essentially involve our capacity for practical reasoning. By my lights, when we act intentionally, we are always in a position to offer a certain type of reasons explanation of what we are up to. It turns out, though, to be a condition on the possibility of such explanations that we also have knowledge of our reasons, and this in turn presupposes that we know what we are intentionally doing. In this way, I suggest, we can see why there is a necessary link between intentional action and knowledge. Aside from explaining how such a link holds between agency and cognition, I use this picture of intentional action to illuminate other issues in contemporary practical philosophy. First, I show how this picture helps to herald a distinctive rapprochement between so-called ‘causalists’ and ‘anti-causalists’ about reasons explanations. Second, I show how it lets us better grasp what G.E.M. Anscombe had in mind when she gnomically described our knowledge of our intentional actions as ‘the cause of what it understands’.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Schulz, Benjaminbgs16@pitt.edubgs16
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee MemberMachery,
Committee MemberSetiya,
Committee MemberThompson,
Committee MemberSchafer,
Committee ChairMcDowell,
Date: 26 June 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 11 September 2018
Approval Date: 26 June 2019
Submission Date: 30 September 2018
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 163
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: action, practical knowledge, practical reasoning, causal explanation
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2019 20:16
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2024 05:15


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