Knowledge and Abilities in Action

Jennifer Hornsby


According to the dominant (‘standard’) story of action, beliefs are the cognitive states of mind to be credited to those who act for reasons. But I suggest that in a full account of reason-explanation, agents have to be treated as knowing things. Agent’s knowledge of how to do this or that is continuous with their capacities for so-called basic acts. And one crucial notion of ability, which belongs in an account of agency, can only be correctly elucidated in terms of knowledge. When the fact that agents are knowledgeable is brought to bear, there is a new way to think about the various conceptions there are of what an agent is able to do. And one can enquire which of these conceptions is relevant to a certain debate about freedom of action.


20th century philosophy; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; ability; basic action; explanation; knowledge how to; Ryle Gilbert

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.