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Knowing by Perceiving$
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Alan Millar

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198755692

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198755692.001.0001

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Abilities, Competences, and Fallibility

Abilities, Competences, and Fallibility

(p.125) 6 Abilities, Competences, and Fallibility
Knowing by Perceiving

Alan Millar

Oxford University Press

The account of recognitional abilities is situated within a broader perspective on general abilities, beginning with those exercised in doing things intentionally, like riding a bicycle. The success thesis—that abilities are exercised only in doing what the ability is an ability to do—is shown to be compatible with (i) there being success-rate abilities that account for being good at hard performances that one does not bring off whenever one tries, even in favourable circumstances, and (ii) there being abilities that one can be exercising even if one does not complete the doing of the thing that the ability is an ability to do (e.g., making an omelette). Recognitional abilities are not exercised by intentional actions but in acts that are, nonetheless, directed. They yield to analogous treatment. Contrasts with John McDowell’s conception of rational capacities and with Ernest Sosa’s conception of competences are considered.

Keywords:   abilities, competences, directed acts, Ernest Sosa, hard performances, intentional actions, John McDowell, success rate, success thesis

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