Knowledge in Action

This is a 3-year project (2020-2022) funded by the Australian Research Council.

Our ordinary notions of skill and skilled action seem to embody conflicting demands. On the one hand, skilled action seems to be an epistemic achievement: a skilled agent is one who, as we say, ‘knows what she’s doing’. For example, it seems natural to say that a skilled tennis player knows how and when to strike the ball so as to play her intended shot. But, on the other, it can also seem like thought and knowledge have no place in skilled action. Most of us know how to tie our shoelaces; and yet, if asked, we would not be able to describe how we do it. Even elite athletes have been shown to get details of their technique wrong when asked to describe it. The challenge is to reconcile these seemingly conflicting demands: is skilled action a matter of knowledge and thought and, if so, what sort of thought and knowledge is at issue? The overarching aim of this project is to develop an account of skill and skilled action that places knowledge at its centre. It aims to do so in part by drawing on the influential, but also contested and elusive, notion of 'practical knowledge', central to Anscombe's Intention.

For my published work on action, see here.

There are plans for a conference on action in Sydney, in 2022 or so. Unfortunately, things are very much up in the air currently, due to Covid-19.