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Philosophers have described and categorized knowledge in various ways. Some are concerned primarily with the conditions that must be


Philosophers have described and categorized knowledge in various ways. Some are concerned primarily with the conditions that must be met in order to say you “know” something. For example, according to the traditional analysis of knowledge, one knows x only if one has a justified true belief about x. Others are less concerned with the analysis of the conditions for knowledge, and focus rather on types of knowledge: knowledge by description, knowledge by acquaintance, knowledge by definition, a priori knowledge, a posteriori knowledge etc. etc. 

One interesting type of knowledge is called “know how” or, more technically, “procedural knowledge”. Knowing how to do something differs from another type of knowledge called “propositional knowledge” or “know that“. Knowing that it is March 2022 (i.e., knowledge that the proposition “It is March 2022” is true) seems different from knowing how to speak the language you were born into or riding a bike. That is, “It is March 2022” involves knowing facts while knowing how to ride a bike involves skill and action.

Some philosophers argue that knowing how to do something is dependent on first knowing the facts in order execute the action. But is this right? 

Think about something you know how to do so well that you might even call yourself an expert at it (e.g., baking a cake, playing a particular video game, catching a fly ball, telling a good joke, ax throwing, etc.). Next, consider whether or not you could explain all of the facts to someone who doesn’t know how to do it. Can you? 

If yes, what are the facts? If you can explain the facts to someone who doesn’t have the same know how, will they be able to do it once they have the facts? If you can’t explain the facts, how is that you can still perform the action without being able to articulate the facts for how to do it?

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