How Knowledge Works



The doctrine that knowledge is a species of belief has encouraged philosophers to confuse the question of what knowledge is and the question of how it can be acquired. But we can form a conception of knowledge by asking how knowledge gets expressed in our mental lives and in our conduct, instead of asking where it comes from. Accordingly, knowledge can be defined as the ability to do things, or refrain from doing things, or believe, or want, or doubt things, for reasons that are facts. I examine the nature of reasons, and the relationship between reasons, facts and beliefs; I consider the question of whether animals without language are capable of knowledge; and I briefly criticize Wittgenstein’s doctrine that I cannot be said to know that I am in pain.