Insa Lawler

Insa Lawler, University of Duisburg-Essen/ Universität Salzburg
01. Februar 2018  16-18 Uhr  2i NIG 2. Stock

Poster WKAP-Vortrag Insa Lawler

Knowing why – Depth & Gradability

Abstract: We not only want to know whether things are the case but also why they are the case. Like other forms of so-called knowledge-wh, knowing why p is commonly analyzed in terms of knowledge-that: one knows why p iff one knows that (p because q), for some q. One knows why a particular chemical reaction occurred iff one knows that it occurred because oxygen was introduced. However, in contrast to knowing that p, knowing why p varies in depth and quality. Intuitively, one cannot know better than someone else that the chemical reaction occurred, but one can clearly know better why it occurred. Can knowing why p nonetheless be analyzed in terms of (p because q) knowledge?
I argue that it can, and I provide an account of differences in depth and quality. I begin with rejecting the claim that knowing why itself is gradable. Yet, I argue that the quality of what you know when you know why is gradable. Then, I provide a basic framework for analyzing differences in depth and quality. I first make the case for the claim that (p because q) knowledge can come apart from knowledge of facts or principles that establish the explanatory connections between the p-phenomenon and the q-phenomenon. Based on this argument, I propose and defend a distinction between shallow knowing why and non-shallow knowing why, and I show how the latter can be employed for the desired basic framework.