There is considerable agreement among epistemologists that certain abilities are constitutive of understanding-why. These abilities include: constructing explanations, drawing conclusions, and answering questions. This agreement has led epistemologists to conclude that understanding is a kind of know-how. However, in this paper, I argue that the abilities constitutive of understanding are the same kind of cognitive abilities that we find in ordinary cases of knowledge-that and not the kind of practical abilities associated with know-how. I argue for this by disambiguating between different senses of abilities that are too often lumped together. As a consequence, non-reductionists about understanding—those that claim that understanding-why is not reducible to knowledge-that—need to find another way to motivate the view. In the end, the fact that abilities are constitutive of understanding-why does not give us reason to conclude that understanding is a kind of know-how.
- Cognitive ability
- Understanding why