You are on page 1of 14

The Unity ofAction,

Perception, and Knowledge

Introduction: On Metaphysical Analysis


r. Three sorts of analysis can be distinguished: the linguistic, the conceptual, the netaphysicai.
Take the familiar example of a cat's lying on a mat. Consider first the
pragmatics and semantics of the corresponding sentence. For exanrple,
rvhen exactly nrust the cat be on the nrat in order for an utterance of that
sentence, which takes tinre, to be true?
Consider next the analysis of the sentence's conceptual content. One
sort of conceptual analysis would involve a bi-conditional claim of necessity, with the target content on orle side and the explaining content on the
other. On pain of vicious circularity, the explanation cannot contain the
content to be explained. Grasp (untlerstanding) ofthe target content would
be explained through (prior) grasp of thc. explaining content.
The nretaphysical analysis of the mt's lying on the mat is distinct from such
linguistic or conceptual analysis. A rnetaphysical analysis, with respect to
that cat and that rnat, of the fornler's lying on the latter, would involve the
cat, the ma, and a certain binary relation, that of lying on. But what is this
relation? We nright try this: it is a relation of being adjacent to and above.
llut that is problcnratic:. Strppose the cat lies on a ntat that is glued on the
inside ancl bottortr of a large wheel. Ancl suppose the wheel starts to rotate
with high at'cclcrti()n s() that thc cet stays on the nrat throughout the rotatiort, rhrc to tlrc firrccs involvcd. -['hc ct c:ontinucs to lic cln the rnat all
tlrrouglr tlrc rot:rtiorr, l'rrrt lt tltc top is lu'lou, tllc nlt.
()rtc'rc,tt'tion to tltt'cx;rrtrplt'r,voultl lrc to try t<l cxplltin lrow tllc rclation
t^>l-l,i.q rll is.r nr()r'(','ottrplt'x t't'l.rtiorr tlr,rrr rrrirllrt lr,rvt',r1r1lt':rrt'tl. In tloinu

TI{E UNI',I'Y OF ACTI()N, pERCEPTION, AND KN()WLEDGE

THE UNITY ()F A(l I ()N, l)lllt( lil) I l()N, ANI) KN()WLEDGE

this one nright appeal to resultant firrt'cs, so tlrrt tlrc actual relation involves
previously unsrlspected f;ctors. Witllout tllc c'oncept of fbrce, one woulcl
not be abler to entertrin that prorosal. Yct onc: cotlcl still gain a partial
account ofthe relevant relation as firllows: ir is r rcltion ofbeing adjacent in
a certain way, n the right wrty. Whilc unsurc of what that way is, one rrright
at least know that it is sorue way <;f bcirrg;rdjaccnt.
Such partial metaphysic:al analysis nriglrt or rrright not correlate with
sinrilar success involving lingtristic: or c()r)ccptual analysis. Irt any crase, rhe
subject nratter is different. ()ur targcr (:()r)ccrr)s a state in the world of thc cat's
lying on the tnof , or nlore gc,ncrally l .t()rl of strtc, instarces of which we fincJ
in the world, of one thing's lying on anothcr. Ancl this is different frorn any
words or any concepts.
Sinrilar distinctions apply generally in philosophy. Thus consider the linguistic analysis of the ternrinolc>ey of "pcrsor)s" ancl the c-onceptual analysis
of a concept of a person, and how thcsc cliffbr fronr nretaphysical inqr:iry
into the nature of persons, such as the living hurnan beings amollfl us.

2. Metaphysical analysis goes beyoncl conc:eptual or sernantic: inquiry,

ancl

also beyoncl necessary bi-conditionals, which can fail to provide the rneta-

physical explanation of special interest to the philosopher.

Consider for example the nret rphysics of persons. In the broad


dornain of personso we find our threefold divide alnon{: (a) words, suclr
as the word "person," (b) concepts, such as the concept of a person,
and (.) extra-linguistic, extra-conceptual entities, the living persons.'
(loncerning the latter, wc find nretaphysical options such as substance
dr-ralisrn, aninralisnr, rrncl so olr. According to an Aristotelian view, a persoll
is never identiml tuith,bvt only cttnstittfted by, abody, which needs to be alive,
r. Objectiort'. "lu dditiott

to tltt lit,itt.{ p('rsotts nKutq tts, tulticlt dft'pdrti.tildrs, tltt'rc'is thc utiut'rsal o.l'
pcrsonhood, tilticlt is lst: distitttt.liom tht'(0tt(('pt of d p('rsott. Ivt't it rt:ttlly l1' ttttit,t'rsl tltdt int(rcsts
thc metaphysicitut, ttot prtirtar liuiryq pcrsttttt, l.r lr) artd carlit'r.fitntttil,tliotts.rttqqc.tf2" Reply: We

can wonder horv auy arbitrary living person nright be collstitutecl otrtoloqically. And this
is of course diflbrent fronl h<xv tlte propertl'of treing a pcl'sorl rnight l-'c constituted. Any
eiven person is arguably c:onstitutcd bv ir living lroriy, firr cxartrplc, unlikc the property. The
Lrroacler poirrt is that issrrcs tlt-ortolottv srrcll s tllrt rlf'tllc r'orrstitrrtiorr ot'pcrrsorrs eo [rcyorrtl
issues ubclut tltc analysis of'tllc'uvortls ()r ('()n(cpts tl)at pcrt:lin to tllat donl;tirr of'cntitics. Anil
tllc slnlc q()cs, prcsurr:rbly, firr inst;ulccs of'krrrlrvlc'tlgc. ()l'r'orrrsc, tllc otltoloqit'ulunalysis of

ll:lllllll:lTlI:':l)liil;ll;l:',;t;;,::'il,':;;l:,'il'1ili'iil)ll,lli"l::llll;l,fij,l'1"',liiil";J:li'lil:
l)('r\()n\ lllt'rtts,'lvt'r, so llr.rt lo lrt'.r l)('r\()lr (tlr,rt 1tr()l)('rl\') lttrr',ltl utt lt.'{lr<'Ir,rl)('rlY of'llt'rn{

.ltt('ttltlYlitolttttlt'tlrtt,tlt,t,lYrvlllt.t(('tl.tttt'',i,lt,tl,t',t,.tlItt,'lrl,'lltllttt,lr.rllr,',rt\',tsttllltt'
t,lctlll1',rl llt,'l)rol)('tl\ rl',('llrr',rrtl,li,' l', \(rnrl.ur\'( on( ( l)llr,rl()t \( ttt.tnll( .ut.tl\rt.,

and in possession of certain powers and abilities, in order to (thereby) constitute a person.

This Aristoteliatr view in the nretaphysics ofpersons involves nletaphysical dependence. One thing exists or is actual depenclently on certain other
things. The dependent thing then exists or is actual dependently on the
other things and on how they are propertied or related.

3. Tlrrning to epistelnology, we can now discern three sets of issues that are
quite distinct, however closely they nray be interrelated. [;rst are issues of
the senrantic or pragnratic analysis of episternic expressions such as "S knows
that p"? Second are issues of conceptual analysis of one or another sort. Flere
one

night

ask about how a certain concept is constituted, what

it necessarily

involves. Thus, is the concept of knowledge constituted partly by the concepts ofbelief, truth, etc., so that necessarily the forrner concrept will apply to
sottrething orrly if che latter concepts do so as well? Altentatively, <lr additionally, with concepts understood as psychological entities, we nright wonder
what is involved in sorneone's possession and/or deployment of the concept(s)
of knowledge? This problem thus concerns people's nrinds, their psychology.
So rntrch for our second set of issues, those of conceptuai analysis.'I'hird are
issues of nretaphysical analysis. Here we focus on an objective phenomenon
that need be neither expressioll nor concept. Our focus is rather on a state
that people host, or an act that they perfornr. This is the phenomenon whose
-What
ontology we now wish to unclerstand.
is human knowledge? What is its
nature? And how is it grounded? In virtue ofwhat is it actual when it is actual?
(And sirnilar ontological questions arise about the nstanres of that state.) It is
these rnetaphysical questions that deternrine our third set ofissues.'

4. Perforrnance whose success manifests the relevallt conlpetence of the


perfortner avoids thereby a kind of luck. According to conrpeterlce virtue
epistenrology, knor,vledge is a special case of that. Knowledge of a sort is
belief whose correctness is ttairted sulJtciently through the believer's episternic conrpetence, belief that is thus "apt."3
:. Herc I hvc ltrrrrrctl tosctllcr rltrcstions of-grorrrrclin, questions concernirrg the itt t,irtut'o.f
relrti<lr, ltrrtl ttrcsti<lrrs of'l,lf,rrr', ('J.\(',lr(', or cottstittttiolr, leaving it open whether these variotts otttologicrrl isstrcs slloukl bc rlistinsurshcd, ancl if so horv. (These are issues taken up in
rrry "Srrlr jccts ;un()rr14 ( )tlrcr"['lrirrqs." I'ltilosoplric,il l)crspt'ctit'cs, l (r987): r_5j-87.) Qr-restions of
rtrountl illg ir:rvt'r'ct't'rrtlv trtlr;rt'tt'tl intcn\(.;rftclrtioll .ull()ng ruct;rpltvsiciatrs suclt as Kit Fine,
(

iirlcolr ll.ort'tt,.fott:rt lr;rrt

l. Ill tttt'\('n\(',

St'lr.r

lli'r.,urtl

ot llcl's.

rt()\\'orvlnr)l', l\\'o l('nnrs r.rt kt'tr rr,r\',lt'r'r'u't' itt t,t lltottglt ttot :ttllitictttl), fl-ollr
tttl'lt,tvtttr.',.1ol otrt'.rs.r1',rlt Altt'r .rll.tlr,'lullt'r\our(('ol nr1'rlorrlrlt',,u'llcrslrirr,,'rll iltt'lrrtlt.
rrV

THE UNITY OF ACTION, PERC]EP'TION, AND KNOWLEDGE

THE UNI'rY ()F ACTI()N, PERCEP'II()N, AND KNOWLEDCIE

IO

serious problem aft^ects the nretaphysics and icleology of perception


and action, however, and similarly affects the nretaphysics and ideology of
knowledge. This is the problenr of deuant causatitttt.
We shall consider a solution for the problenr in its three varieties. To begin
we exanline Davidson on action, Grice on perception, and the, account of
knowledge as apt belief, as belief that gets it right through conlpetence rather
tharr luck. We take up the opposition between sucir traditional accounts and
"disjunctivist" alternatives. And we explore how the point and substancc of
nretaphysical analysis bears on the problenr and on conlpeting reactions to it.
What follows divides intc four parts. ln a.first part, the main lines of the
view are laid out, and it is shown how it applies with thc sanre basic stnlcture in all three donrains. A sccontlpart then develops these icleas with finer
grairr and more detail. In a third part we consider how our accouut goes
beyond Davidson and Grice. A final,.fwrth part, then presents a rrrethodology that fits our approach.

First Part
Action, Perception, and Knowledge

A. Action
What is it to act intentionally? As a first approxirnation, you might think,
to act intentionally is to succeed in a certain intentional ainr, where the success is owed to the agent's intention.
But that has counterexanrples, such as thc fbllowing.
A waiter intends to startle his boss by krrocking over a stack of dishes right
now, which rnakes hinr so nervous that he involulrtarily staggers into the stack
and knocks it over, thus startling thc boss. lJut this is not sollrcthin ire- ckrcs
intentionally, cvcn tlrotrglr thc succcss lrcrc is owccl to tllc ugcrrt's irrtcntir>n.'
also Irty lr.rvirrgbottght ouc c:rt'l icr:rtrrl kt'1lt rt rrr rn1'l)()\s('\\i()r). ((ltlrrrp:rtiblv rvitlr tllrrt.;r strtfL'icnt crpl:r ttrtt iort rrr iglrt st ill l,c itr tplovcrl s() .1\ t () llc uot or r ly rrrf/ir ir'lf brrt ;r lso lrt'l/r'r tllrr n thc
c;rrl it'r' srr llir'ir'r rt orrt'.)
1. I lcrc is.r lt't ntttolorlt,rl(,r\'(',1( n()l lll\t lor lllrs l).r\\.rl{('ltut ,rls,,lot tllt't't'rtt.r intlt'l ol tlris lrook.
'I lrt'ol tzttt',.rlt, )ul .r( I r( )n ( .ur ()\'('rl, t, rk .ut Inrl)()t t.ntl ,ltrl n, Iolt llt'ltvt't'rr rvl.tl ,trt'tl. rt's itttt'-

lrolr,tlll',rttl u'll,rl ()tt('(l(t1". 1,1 ,1t",t,,tt(ott rttl)()\(.ttl(',ttttttl-', 1tlrrt/slrt'rlr,,rllt'). lllt st'tlst',tl


"trl('nlt,rtr.tll1'" n u lt.rl l,tll,trr'. r', r('\lrr( l('(l lo lll.rl r,l "l'1' ,lt".t'r,".rltll,'up.'.lr rt ,tl,lrn,tt V l.u
liu.rll('rl ',lr( 1,lrr". l.rr lrr'llrrrl I lrrr',,,rrr'rrrrl'lrt \\r'.r rlo\\ n on(".',n,.r[., r', url( nlr,'n.tll\'.t\ ()lr('

So, we shouid require that the agent's intention nrust bring about
the success in the right way, with "the right kind of causation." Or
so Davidson advises repeatedly in his long struggle with the problem,
and in his parting thoughts on the nratter. F{ere is how he puts it (with
nrinor variations): \Vhat is it for an agent to F intentionally on a particular occasion? There must be sonre G such that the agent's intending to G must cause o'. . ill the right w1', the agent's particular act of
Fitrg."5 The waiter's krrocking over of the dishes is not caused in the
right way by any such intention. IJut no account of "the right way" has
won consensus.

B. Perception
I.

What is it to perceive an entity? The ac:count of perception defended in


Paul Grice's "Causal Theory of Perception"r'is an early, influential answer.T
Clrice begins with a view drawn fronr H. H. Price's Percepton:
X perceives M iffX has a sense experience that
state of affairs involving M.

is causally dependent on some

runs a marathon, without doing so by design (on purpose). ln ordinary language, intentionally
is conrpatible lvith urere knorvledge alorethoueht, r.vhereas b, rt,fn goes r,r'ith nralice afbrethotrght (or, urore broadly, purpose albrethoueht). The issues that arise with this restricrion are
itrrportant fcr ttnderstanding the ontologv of action, even ifwe do not tackle the broader subject of what one does "intelrtiourlly," whether it is clone by design or not. (C)ornpare Michael
Brattrrau, lntctttitttts, Pttuts, dild Practical Rcrr.rol (Stanforcl, CA: CSLI Publications, 1999), especially "Two Faces of Intentiolt" and "Acting with an Intention.")

p. 22L of his "Reply to Vermazerl," in B. Vernrazen and M. Hintikka, ecls, E,rsay-s on


Dntidsott: Actiotts rutd Evutts (Canrbriclge, MA:MIT Press, t98-5). Davidson's thought evolved
frotrr "Acticlns, Reasorts, and Clatrses," -lottntnl o.f Philosttph'1, $g6il, through "Intendine" in his
Ii.r.iay.i ttn Attitttts utd Evtttts (Oxfbrd: Oxlirrcl University Press, r98o), and then to his replies in
the Vernrazen ancl Hintikk collection.
. H. P. (irice, "The Clattsal Theory of Perception," Procccdings of thc Aristotelut Society
-5. See

Sttpplctrrt'ttt,t, l,'ttltrtrrc (t 9fi

r): t I I-5J.

7. (lrii:c tlocs ttot rlistinetrisll clclrly nlonq our rhree sorts ofenalysis. Much ofhis discussion is
clcurly nlcilnt s littuuistic;rrtalysis, rs is his lone discussion ola theory of implication. But he
of tcn nrovcs swiftly fj-onr noti<lns ol concepts to words, ancl vicc versa, and at times his locus
sr'vitcllcs witltorrt wtt'llilrs fi"ottt urralysis of-worcls or concepts to analysis of the phenornena

of'trrcrccptiorrintlrcrvorlrl .Scctlrctorof-p. I.ltt,firrcxanrplc,rvherchereportsthe"contention of tlle (l'['1"' (ol'tlrc t';rts.rl thcoly ()l'pcrccpti(lrr) th.rt rcrccivirrg is to be analyzecl irr
t';trts:tl t('rrrls. Antl tlt'tlrcory tlr.rt lrt'l)'()l)()s('\ irt r'orrr'lrtsir)n c'()lltailrs:r claillr crlrrivalcnt tr>
tlt'f irll,ru'rrrg: tlt,rt X rt'rt t'rvt's M il,lntl onlv'if , M is r:rtrs.rlly rcslrorrsiblc (irr sonrc w;ry to lrc
lrl,rrrllrt otll tllt,rtt1lr t'r.trrrlrlt's) l()r \()nr('\('n\('('\l)('tr( n( ('ol X's. Ilis tlrcoly is irr:rrry ('its(.,;ts
fo ltttl.tlt'tl. ('(lrlt\',r1.'ll l,r.t. l.unr.tl,,till Ir'rt r'lrl1,rr,l rr,)l lil\( .tl)()Ul
ot .tlroltl ,t l('tnilnol()'1 ol "rt't( ('l)l tr)lt "

.t ( ()lt(

('l)l ()l l)(.t( ('l)tt()n

THE UNTTY ()F ACTI()N, PERCftP'tI()N, AND KNOWLEDGE

THE UNITY ()F ACTI()N, PTiRCEPTI()N, AND KNOWLEDGE

This, he argues, is subject to counterexanrples. C)ur visual sense experiences while in the sunlight, for exanrple, are causally dependent on the
sun even when we look away from it. Nor do we nornrally perceive our
eyes even when our visual experiences are highly dependent on the state

ofour

eyes.

2. The account is then revised to say that an object is perceived if and only
if some condition involving it is a differential condition that afIects some
but not all of the perceiver's relevant sense experience at the tinre of perception. The sun is not seen rvhen we look away from it; on the revised
account, this is because no condition of it affects only sonle and not all of
orle's visual sense experience.

However, the revised account too has counterexanrples. Torches can


shine respectively on statues viewed concurrently, each torch thus affecting
the perceiver's visual inrpressions differentially, though only the statues are
seen,

with the torches blocked fronr view.

3. Grice eventually arrives at approximately the fbllowing view:


X perceives M if, and only if, X

hosts a sensory experience for r,vhic:h

M is

causally responsible in the right way.

This is what Grice's view cotnes to, g'iven how he thinks the "right" way

is

grasped, to be considered in section E.8

C. Knowledge
As a first approximation, propositional knowleclge can be understood as
belief that attains its ainr (truth) and does so not merely by luck but through
competence. Such knowledge is tlien a special case of perfornrance that is
not just lucky but apt: i.e., perfornlance whose sLlccess is owed suffrciently
to the performer's relevarlt conrpetence. The aptness of a perforrnance is
thus supposed to block an important sort of luck, the sort that precludes
Gcttiered subjects fronr knowing what they believe both c:orrcc:tly ancl

rrilposirrq tlris vicw, (ilrt'c lrolrt's to rlr':l ll()t ()nlv u'rtll lris t'x,rrttrlt's t rtt'tl rn otn'tcxt, brtt
;rlso rvitl t lcltr t.rscs of t ,tus,tl tlt'r'r,tn, t', su, ll .tr lltost'lourt,l ,tn l) t.l -r ,rl lrrs r,t1rt'r.

tt. Irr

i3

conlpetently. A belief falls short of knowiedge when its truth is owed too
much to iuck and not sufliciently to the believer's competence.e
In a Gettier case, the believer's cornpetence in oue way rnakes sonte con*
tribution to their getting it right in believing that p. We might conceive of
"their getting it right" as a conjunctive state of affairs containing as conjuncts both P and the believer's believing P. The believer's exercise of epistemic competencc docs certainiy nrake a contribution to their believing
P, so it follows that it makes a contribution to the holding of the conjunctive state by rnaking a contribution to the holding of one of its conjuncts.
Flowever, what is required for aptness of belief is not rnerely the holding
of the conjunctive state that is sourced through those two separate channels: one for the holding of the belief, and the other for the truth of the
proposition believed. This would leave it open that the combination of
belief-plus-truth be entirely coincidental. Even if the believer's competence contributes heavily to their beleuirtg as they do, it nray still contribute
nrtt nt all to that coincidence's being rlore than a merc coincidence. So, in
order for a belief to be apt, the coincidence of belief and truth must derive
sufficiently through competence, so that it is not merely coinciclental. And,
nlore generally, in order for a perfornlance to be apt, it nlust be suiciently
an exercise of conrpetence that yields the coincidence of (a) the atternpt and
(b) the realzation of the attenr.pt's coutent.'o
But this too has ostensible counterexanrples. Take an archer's competent
shot that (a) would hit the target absent intervening wind, and (b) does
hit the target because, although a first gust diverts it, a second gust puts it
back on track. Here the agent's conrpetence yields the early orientation
;rnd speed of the arrow, and this conrbined orientation and speed, together
with the two conr.pensating gusts, results in the buli's-eye. So, why is this
shot not apt after all? A performance is apt when it succeeds because of the
;rgent's conlpetence. But our archer's wind-aided shot r/oes seenr to succeed
bcc:ause of his cornpetence! If the agent's competence had not resulted in

,t. "Wc hvc rechcd the vicw th:rt kllorvleclge is true belief orlt of intellectual virttte, belief
tlrt trrrns otrt right by rcusorr of'the virtrre ancl not jrrst by coincidence" (E. Sosa, Knouladgt:
itt l\rsttctiut'(()lrrrbridgc:(lnrbritlgc Utriversity Press, rggt),z77).
ro. A rccitrricnt of'tcstirlorry rrriglrt contrillutc throrth llis cxcrcise of epistetrric colltpetence to
tlrc r'.r'is/r'rrr'of'llis lrclicl'rvitllorrt t'orrtribrttirtg to its vrrtt'rs, to its hittirrg the lltark of trtlth.
Arrtl tllc,llrtncss of'lris bt'lrcl rt'.rrirt's tll;rt llc'nt;rkc;r r'oltlilltltirlt. rvltir'h rrrlty bc qtritc lirrrttcrl,tlttl srlr,ll, t() lls lrc.'llt'f'\ rrrtlr'rf,/r'\\, ll(tt lll\l (() tlr t'xtrlt'lltc.

THE UNITY ()F ACTI()N, PBRCEPTION, AND KN()Wt.liDGE

r4

the right orientation atrd speed uporl release fronr the borv, then the arrow
would not have hit the target.
Taking a ieaffrorn I)avidson and Grice, we rnightjudge success to be apt
oniy if it derives causally frorn conlpeter"tce in the right u)ay. Soccess essentially aided by lucky gusts of wind would not derive in the right way frorn
the archer's competence.

D.
L

Assessing the Three Accounts

three accotlnts nray be rejected as unsatisfactory rlntil wc are told


what it is for succress to derive "in the right way" fronr thc relcvant cansal
A11

2. 'We are considerring accounts of phenornena that are broadly oofactive,"


such as perceiving x, killing x, perceiving that p, intentionally oing, and
knowing that p. These involve relations spanning rnincl ancl world, relations
between the subject/agetrt's nrind and her environing world. Philosophical
analyses proposed for these various relations then repeatediy appeal to sonle
essential causal relation. And thus we reach the nub of the problenr.

The problenr is often posed by de'u'rant causation, wayward causation that


gives rise to counterexamples, whether the analysis targets action, percrep*
tiott, or knowledge. Time after tirue, a kincl of "luck" or "mere coincidence "
derives from the deviant character ofthe causation, inconrp:rtibly rvith appro-

THE UNITY OF ACjTI()N, PERCEPTI()N, AND KNOWLEDGE

r5

The phenonrenon in the good case is constituted thereby so as to be tnetaplrysicaliy analyzable into factors. The good and bad cases share a highest
cornmon factor. What distinguishes thenr is that the good case conlbineii
that highest conlmon factor with sonle other factor. In the bad case that
further factor is rnissing,
Disjunctivists reject that traditionalist account. In theirview there is no such
conlmon factor. Disjunctivism is fanriliar in accounts ofperception, and in the
knowiedge-first theory ofknowledg.,'' and is also applicable to action theory.
Disjunctivism. provides an alternative to the three accounts recently

viewed: Davidson's of intentional action, (lrice's of perception, and the


account of knowledge as apt belief, Each of these involves a distinguished
factor sharecl by the good case and the bad case. Each of the three sorts of
failure is said to involve a conlponent that would also be present with success.
For perception the contponent would be a sensation or sensory experience.
For action it would be an intention or a trying. For knowledge it would
be a belief or judgment. Traditionalists then propose that success differs
from failure because a certain flictor present in success is nrissing in failure.
C)therwise the cases are the san1e. Causalist traditionalists argue that what is
present in success and nrissing in failure is a certain causal conttection relating, first, the factor shared in comnron by failures aud successes-whether
this be sensation, intention, or belie-and a relevant worldly itenr: that is to
say, the item perceivecl, the doing irrtended, the fact believed.
Disjunctivists thus reject traditionalist analyses. Should traditionalists be
worried?

priate success and relevantly creditable perception, acticln, or knowledge.

4. According to one influential argr:nrent, there is no conjunctirte

3. For all sttch "factive" phenonrena, tltcre is a cood case ancl a lrad c]lst:.
In the good case the agent fully succeecls." [n the bacl case she f?rils in some

the good case tuth logcally independent cttniuncts.'3

analysis

of

way or other.

Traditionalists take the good casc to bc constituted in part try what constitutes the bacl c:ase, plus sonrething else that is rnissing in thc bacl case.
rr. My "succeeding" is telativc to the ainr constitutive of'the perforrnancc t.llat srrcccecls. It
llreans strictly just that the constitutive ainl is lttrrincrl by thirt rerfitrrrrrrncc. ()lljcrtiotr: It

r-:,. Tinrothy Willianrson, Kttou,lt'd!('(1t lts I-itttits (Oxford: Oxfbrd University Press, zooo).
r3. Section r.3 of Williarlsrn's book contains the f ollowing line of argunlent:
r. Analyses of the concept Alorl,.r of the stantlard kind al'uvays involve an irreilundant
non-rnelltal conrponent concept, uatrrely trttth.
:. Any conccpt conrposcd conjtrnctively of'an irreclutrdatrt non-lltenlal concept would be
botnrtl to lrc llon-nlcntl c()llccpt.
l. Tllc c()ll('cpt lilrtllrs is lr nlerrtl corl('cpt.
.1. 'f lrc ('()n('cl)t ll,rri,r is rlistinct fi'orrr (rron-itlcrrticl to) any cottjurtctive concept olthe sort
'tllc stlttltlrtl kirltl
invokcrl llv rrlrrlyscs tlf
'l'llc ('()n(('l)t llrtri,r is rrrrurr;rlyzrrblc l,y:ury;rrtllysis ol'thc st:rrtdrrl kitltl, since a correct
.s.
.rrr:tlysis rvotlrl lrt',r t l;tit ol r'ottt t'1rl itlclrtity.
(r. No st,ul(l.lt,l ,rn.rl1'srs,lf llrt' .,,ltt t'1tt Ilt,,tt,i t,tt [rr'('()t't('( t, rvlllt ll is.tlstl c'tllllit-rtlctl irtdttc.

tokttott, lltdt l)otttltt'h,tsisol'ttr'lt'cltt,i,lLtt,t.l(t'1r11': Ycs.tluc. llutinnlys(.1)scy()u(';lnsritcctl


firlly cvcrr if 'yotr rnigltl lt,rvc srr, t t't'tlt',1 ('\'('r! luol'('f ullr'. ( ()ln[).u(. Moott..ut(l l)('s( ill.tcs ()n

lit,t(lc5()l (('ll,trrrll.(()ttlrn,tt\'\l)('('(lrrst,rt'rr totlrrs,,rrrvllt'll l,..rt "Mr,\utt(,t\(.rslirll lrrt


I t.u sltll r,rr<','zr'rr tlr., ll,rr,ll't'r, lrrr'l ")

trvt'11' lr1 tlrr' ( it'tt r('r lrl('r.r(ur('

I6

THE UNITY OF AC'IION, PER(]EPTION, AND KNOWI-EDGB

In response it should be granted that there is no analysis of the good case


in terms of indepeudent factors conjoined in the analysis. This seenls correct for all three phenornena: for perception, for action, and for knowledge.

So "disjunctivism" is then right to claim that there is no anaiysis of the


good case into independent conjunctive factors. From this it would follow,
nloreover, that there is no highest conlnlon factor, if this just nreans that no
highest independent factor figures in an analysis of each case, the good and
the bad, into indepenclent conjunctive factors.
Flowever, that leaves it open that the good case adrnit nretaphysical analysis, if such analysis need not be afactortzing analysis that conjoins independent factors.
All three accounts-of action, of perception, and of knowledge-are
analyses of the good case into factors, and in all three there would be a
highest common factor shared by the good case and the bad case. But in
none of them would this highest conrmon factor figure as a conjunct in a
conjunctive analysis of the good case into independent conjuncts. Why
is there no such analysis? The reason is unifornl across the three cases, as
they all involve a causal connection saicl to be present in the good case
and absent in the bad case. Iu no case is the causal conrection releuantly
detachable frorn other factors conrbired with it, and with each other, in
the analysis.
No state of affairs that conrprises relata related by causation will have
a metaphysical analysis such that no two factors constitutive of the whole
are necessariiy related by logical or metaphysical necessity. X'-c causing Y
thus comprises X and Y as relata related by causation, but the whole causal
state of affairs is not fully resolvable by analysis into logically and nretaphysically independent factors. Even if factors X and Y are logically and

T}IE UNITY OF ACTION, PERCEPTION, AND KNOWLEDGE

rrretaphysically independent, there is no way of cttnjen* a further factor


independent of these two that will secure the required causal connection
crucially involvecl in X's causing Y.

5. The upshot is that if causal accotlllts of perception, action, and knowlX-first views, the objection

edge are to be rejected in favor of disjr"rnctive or

will

need to go beyond any assulrrption that proper analyses nlust be con-

junctive analyses into logically independent factors, In order to clinch their


case, opponents of traclitional analyses rnust argue rrore fully than has been
done to date. They nrust show not onlv that there is no factoriztnp analysis of the relevant phenomena into independent conjunctive factors. They
rnust show also that there is no acceptable causal analysis.
Suppose even that essential appeal to "the right way" spoils semantic and

conceptual analysis. Suppose firsters are thus right in thinking that there is
no such linguistic and conceptual analysis in any of our three domains: that
of perception, that of action, and that of knowledge. Whether we are in a
position to gue it in,full detal or not, however, there might still e a metaphysical analysis, even if the forrnulation of the analysis nrust rnake use of
"in the right way." Any formulation we could give might then have to be
partial, not colnplete. Recail in this connection our cat-on-nrat exanrple.
Arrd conrpare Leibniz on "infinite analysis.o'
Firsters thus owe further argunlent that there is no metaphysical analysis
of perception, action, or knowledge into phenonena metaphysically nlore
fundamental. Such metaphysical analysis is not precluded even if there is no
interesting, non*circuiar, infclrmative sernantic or conceptual analysis of
the words or concepts in the relevant donrains (that of action, that of perception, and that ofknowledge).'a

tq. Obj<:ctiort: "A tctttrd


7. That has implications not only lbr concepttral analysis but also fbr nretaphysical analysis.
Suppose, for exarnple, that we grant that the concept Anorr,.r is distinct fronr the concept
beliattts truly. And suppose that, in spite of that, we insist that the nretaphysical states of
knor'vledge and true belief are iclentical, sitrce kuowlerlge , the state, just is true belief.
8. This would imply that the c:orlcepts rre necessal-ily coextensive despite the dlversitv ol
the corresponding states. Ancl th;rt worrlcl bc a bizarrc (and ptesuurabiy ini:reclilrle) rnctaphysical coincidence .
However, that linc of-rcst'rninr rrprl ics orrly to u srct'ial sct of'traditional ;rnal1,5c5.
It clocs tri>t irrply to lrrlrlyscs tlrrrt tlo n<lt involvc irrctlrulrlunt u()n-nlcnt;rl corrrlorrcnt
c()llccpts. So it tlocs n()t lpl)lv to c:u'lv (lrltlnr;rn (krlorvlcrlsc is lrclicl'r';rrrscrl by tllc frt't
bclicverl), n()r't() N,rzick (u'rtlr Iris t\v() (()n(lrtion,rls: 1r ' lllr rlrri -1r -t .-lllr) Nor'tlot's
it;ll)l)ly to tlrt',r((()unt ol (,rrrrrrr,rl) krr,trvl,',1'..',rr,rrt lrt'lrt'l (.rs lrt'lrcl n'll,r.t'(()r-r'('(tr)('ss
tn.rntlt'sts tlrt'Irt'lr('\'('r \ tt'lt r'.rrrl ( {rrrrl)('l('n( (').

r7

tbtwt ohit:ctuttl set:ing is tlte ,trgument thttt dis.jrmctunt


ri,qlrt, tvliclt s tl phcflontcttology that strttngly reconutrcttds tt,tit,c

cttsc.for dis,jtutctir,sn

gcts tht'tlrctrorrtcttolo,{,),t!l'pcrccption

it is tltc \rdnspr('ttt tltt'ttonrcnttlttgy

o.f uquttittt(lttcc LUith ohiects tt otrc's etn,ironment, tuhcrc


t'xpt'rirttcc. I stt't this a -fitrthcr (trgunrcnt prcsstd by dis.iunctit i.sf.r rl /'rr.s/ itt lltc c,tst'ttl pt'rccptitnt? " 1{eply: This argunrent too is inconcltrsive, however, since
there is no srrcll .{('l.i()r) phurotrrertolouy. There is only a "phenotnenology" of seemings as
inclinrrtions to bclicvc r>r tllc like. This is thc sort of'seenring in play, surely, when it "seens"
to ilnyor)c tht rllr.iccts sccl) clr lrc constitrrents r>f thc: corresponding visual experience.
IJrrt srrch a rrc'jtrtlurrtcnt "sccnrinq" lllts sr'ltnt rrobative fbrcc to coulltcrviril how plausibly
it lso "sccnls" tlr.rt tlrc siun('scns()l'\'rhororrrcrrology clrn be shlrcd by l hallucilrrtion ancl
r'critlic.rl cNlr(''i1'r.'r.'. ln ltlrlitiolr, tlrc lrclicvcr irt srrlr.jcctivc scnsory cxperience neecl not
tlcrrt'(lr,rt tllcrc is,r sort ol st'nsor'1, o[rjt't trr.rl cx[rclicrr'c tlrt is constittrtcrl by a sccn physical
o[r.jctl.l;otlrt',.ur,rls.rllrsr\t tlr,r( tllrssot-tol't'rPct-icntt'lr,rs.rtttctugrlrysicul lrrrlrlysisintct'nls

ft.Ltlsru:
tlu'sc

<tb

jcct s -r('('lr o hc cottstit ttctt ts of tltt'

ol tlrc srrtrit'( lr\'('('\l)('rtcrr, t'nrr',rlvt'tl ul ru, lr cxpr''1'1

1'.

tl

llllr l)Nll\'

tl{

()l' \( ll(lN.

I'lrll( 11l'll()N. ANI) KN()Wl11l)(;l

THE UNITY ()F A(lTI()N, Pl,tt(ltjP'rlON, AND


is one whose accuracry manifbsts rhe relevant contpetence

E. An Approach through Performance Theory


I. What follows
cattsal

to turrl the tables on objections to traditionalist


analyses. The use ofa concept of "nranifbstation" will enable causal
ainrs

analyses ir all three cascls. Appeal to nraniibstation helps to develop a better


solution to those problems. The notion of aptness (success that nranifests
cornpe tence) prornises to be helpftrl not only in the theory of knowledge,
but also in the theory of action, and in the philosophy of perception.
BothDavidson and Grice nrake a cruc:ial nlove in defending their respective accounts. Even though their fornrulations are different, the rnove is
essentially the satne. They both in effect recluire a partiuilar sttrt af causation,
while ostensibly assuruittg that no verbal fbrrnr.rla can noll-trivially define it.
Davidson then says that rto sudt.fornrula s ncedcd, and Gricc adds that a grasp of
the right sort ttf cattsatott cmt lte attancd througlt exanrytks.

Let us have

closcr look.

2. Recall the rvaiter who intends to knock over

a stack of dishes rrgllr


attack ofirerves caused by the nervy intentirrtt. Why is this not a way in which a doing can relate to an intention so
;ts to cotrstitute intentional acticln? What is the requirecl causal relanow,bLrtdoes so only through

tiolr? (lan it trc clefirecl so as to reveal why the waiter's doing cloes not
tltrrrlify? I)aviclson clainrs that we r-rced ntr armchair analysis ttf this mat/r'r'. ln his vicw intcntiotral actiorls are analyzable as doings caused by
irtt'rrtiorts tt tltc ri.glrt utny, ancl no further analysis of tlrc riaht way is possrltl.',)r'r'('(luircri. Wc trrieht ask: "No further analysis is requiredfor
tt,lt,tt?" Antl, in tlrc light of our c:at-or1-n1at exarnple, here is one plausrlrlr' t('\l)()nsr'. Wc ncctl n()t pr()vide a furthcr explication (of what that
"rrilrl u'.t"' it) in orclcr t<l nrukc any progress. 'We carl at least partally
Itr nrul,rtt' .n) ,u),rlysis of inrcntional ction thrclugh appeal to apprttpriatc

(.lrt\.tlotr "in tltc rigllt wrly."


Srrll, it rvotrltl lrc nir:c tr> lrc able: to nrake further prosrcss, by going
lrr'\,,r.1 tlrtrs invokirrq "tllc right way."
I t'l us tl'v ill) .r('('()r.ult in tcrllls ct' contltr'l('tt((s ttd lrcir tnonifi'stttiotts.
( lr tnsitlt't':
l(

rr,ru'lt'rlqt' is ,11tl lu'liy'1.

l lt,'t'.','lttiorr. Pt't't't'l)tron tlr:lt su('ll lrrrtl strclr) is ,r|f


t'xtt't'icttr't'
rt'ltr)\('\u( ( ('\\ In,uuli'st\ ( (rnrl)('t('lr( ('. A lrr.'t
ltt'ttt'lltt,tl
( ('f )l tt,tl t'rtt't t('tt( ('rttt t t't'tlr
',r'lt.'lt t( t\ r'r't ,li,,tl t)r ,t( ( ut,ttt'. Alr .rl)t ('\l)('t t('lt( ('

KNOWLEDGE
ofthe subject's per-

ceptual systenrs.

Action

is apf intention.':

lrr ail three cases, the foliowing f,ic:tors cronle to the fore:
attainnrent of the aitn'
The competence of the perforrlrance.
The aptness of that perfonnance: whether the
Success, the

success

nranifests c:onlpetence.

Ancl it is no accident that aptness-success that manifests conrpetence-is


tlre key to "the right wAy." Again, all three hurnan phenomena involve aintig-c, perforluanc--es with an airn. Perception involves functional, teleological
ainrings, through the teleology of our perceptual systenrs. Intentional action
ivolves aimings that are full-fledged intentious. Knowledge divides into two
sides: a functional perception-like side, and ajudgrnetrtal action-like side.
The sorf of causation esserltially involveci in all three phenornena is hence
the causation of aptness. lt is not enough that the success tlcrivc causally from
conlpetence, for it nray so derive deviarttly, by luck. Rather, the success must
be apt.It must mailifcsf sufficient conrpetence on the part of the perfortner.

Second Part
The Approach through Manifestation
Developed

A. Objectual PercePtion
Iow slrotrld we unclerstancl olrjectualperception specifically? Factive propositioal perception cloes sccnr analogotts to actiori and knowledge in the
ways spccifie'cl, sinc-c all thrce irrvolve an ainriug with propositional contcllt, rv|crc it is clc.ar how airlrings lcnd thetnselves to AAA rnetaphysical
:rrr;rlysis: in tcrnts oisrt'c'css, c()lrtpclcttc:c, attd stlcccss through conlpetence.
llrrt [<lrv cilll wc cxtcncl this apprcxtch t<l covcr also thc lllore specific topic
I

of-spcr'ill illtcrcst to ( iricc?

l)t't't t'pttott (rt'orlrsitoll;r


r'.\lt''i',r',

19

r. lllrrr,rlllrt.rlrr.rllit.rllrt.lr)\\,,\t.ltIt1,,\\,ltllfoolrrr)t('.l.lltttltrs,lr.rlrtt't,.rrltllrrr.tlrt'rcl:ttrttl.tlt'tl .tlsotlt lt.ttt lll,tl tl1'lronk

I.

X perceives M if, and only if,


true ofX which reports
ex

sonre present-tense sense-datunr statenlent is

state of afrairs for which

M,

n d LU(1y to be indicated by

ample, is causally responsible.'"

(]rice's account is little lnore than a gesture at how an


account nright be obtained. Can we do better, even within the spirit
of Grice's thought? Here follows an attempt to do so.

b. Unfortunately,

Perception

as

illusion, the correspondence might be mininral. Macbeth


rnight represent a walking stick as a sword, for example, in which case there
will be sorne correct corresponclence. The image and the stick wili stili
share the property of being a11 elongated object.'e
Thus we reach the following account.
clespite nlassive

Grice on objectualperception.

a. Grice defends his "causal theory of perception" with an essential


appeal to ex;rnrples, as follows:

z.

TIIE UNITY OF ACTI()N, PERCEPTION, AND KNOWLEDGE

THE UNITY 0F AC IoN, PERCEPTION, AND KNOWLEDGE

20

3. An account of objectual visual representation


a. First, two prelinrinaries:
Inr.age Inr corresponds to x IFF (a) Irn aims to correspond to some worldly
item: that is, ainrs for an outcorne in which it shares content with some
woridly itenr or other, ancl (b) therc is scnrc: content of Im in respect ofwhich
it does corresporld to x in particular, throuoh sharing rtf properties ttr conditions,

aptness of objectual image.

Our approach requires a finer grain thanjust the propositionai content of


experience. We mttst take note of the fact that experience is finer grained in
containing inr,ages as weli. We begin rvith visual inrages, airrring to provide
an account of seeing things, individual things such as physical objects or
events, or other objective individual entities.'7
Some perfbrrnances are not free or intentional and yet have aims nonetheless, such as the teleological or functional aims of a biological organisnr
or its subsystenrs. Salient anlong the aims of our visual systenl is representing our environrrlent appropriately. This our vision nright do by representing proxirnate facts through the propositional content of experience, visuai
or otherwise. Inrages too can represent, however, through appropriate
correspoltdence to individual worldly entities. In aiming to represent, an
irnage will airn to correspond in sonre way.'t Since an irnage can represent
t. Grice, "The Causal Theory ofPerception," r-5r. My italics.
r7. Eventually rve woulcl need to generalize beyond that so as to cover other sense modaiities, if
all goes well with orlr approach to vision. Adnritteclly, that rvould be no trivial exercise. We
would neeci to do jrrstice to the phenomenology of other senses, such as sound, snrell, and
touch, This may reqtrire appeal not only to direct perception by the nkecl eve, but also to
indirect perception: throrrgh mirrors and television screens, lbr exanrple, and even throtrgh
photographs or filnrs in a kind of delayecl seeing. Similar ideas would then pertain to snrell,
as when we smell a skunk (with no conception that there is such an aninral, never hlving
encounterecl nor heard of any) by snrelling its characteristic snlell in tire air. We mieht thelr
snrell a particular skunk thus indirectly.
Some woulcl banish lny notion olclirectncss fl'r>rlr thc phik>sophv of"pcrccption. trtrt its prolninence in the history of thc srrbjcct lllrrkcs thlt unrvisc. llcttcr to try to ttttdt'rslutd thc r{ivcrsity
ofdirectness-cf . clr. of'rrry i\,1()llli,,1q l:ull Ill'll(l)rirrcctorr: l)r'inr'cton Urrivcrsity [)rcss,:ol l).
t8. Morestrictly,bylrostirrgthrrtirnrrgcitvisu;rlt'xpt'r'rortr'.:rn; rrinl;l'svisu:rlsystcnl,rrndin
I way tltc lrtrintlrl trro,,rirus t() r'('[rr('\('nt, {lttorrrqlr tlrt't,Pt'r,rlr()lr ()l'vision,;ntl in srr; ijg
thcy.riril trl r'rlttt'sllrrrrtl. Iltrt lrc|c I ,l,l n()l ( ()nililrl l.'.r lt'lcr)\('nr,ilrlrt tllt'tll y. t'spct i;rl11'rrot
t()()llctll:tl lc\ttittrsr'lt'tlr()nlr)n.rtlll,rlst'lt'tlrrrnr)\'('r
to.r lltstorr..tl .t,rrunl, ttltr'tllr't tt'l,tlttt'lr)\l){'(r{'\,}r

.rll('\'ollllt()il,il\'tiln('\l);ilt,il()l('\,('n
(,rvt'rr lr,trvrltllirrtlt.rrr,l
l('rullurr'

i n cl u

di

ng

rcl a t i o n al p ro p

crt

ie

s or

c()

)c'
ndi ti () tt s,

Inrage lm aptly corresponds to x IFF (a) Inr attains its airn of thus corresponding to some worldly item or other, in virtue of its corresponding to x
in particular, and (b) Inr's thus corresponding to x rnanifests S's perceptual
conlpetence.

b. And now the account of objectual visual representation:


S visually represents object x IFF a visual inrage hosted by
aptly corresponds to x.

According to one basic form of seeing, to see an indiviclual "object" (in the
broadest sense) is to visually represent that object.''
controversial these issues have proved to be, I stay at a liighlevel of abstraction thatleaves
open just how in ful1 philosophical detail we should understand these fr"rnctional or teleological airrrs, and the "proper functions" involved.
Sr,rch sharins is of course not just co-exenrplification. An itnaqe ancl an object can "share"
properties in a clifferent way, by the imase's cottttittittg a property exurplified by the object.
Inrages are here assunred to have a status like that offictional characters. The character
Harrrlet lor exarnple corirts the property of owning a sword, b::,t exenplific.s no such property, since characters have no legal standing to owll swords, Inrages and characters are
ontologically shallow, like shaclor,vs ancl surces, and are presunlably grounded or sttpervenient on tleepcr, nrore strbstantial entities or plrenomena. But one ueed llot enter these
llctaphvsical issucs in order to grallt ontological stanclins to such entities, while invoking
thcnl to clucirltc otltcr phenorlrena.
.:.o. Hcrc wc nly nccd to bc flcxible in allorvins intlexical conclitions, as rvhen ury iuraee contrrins tllc colltlitioll <is [rcfirrc nle llc>w) or evel] (causes l/ri.s very iuraee]. Even ifwe allow
t lrc l:ttu'sclf -r'cf i'r'cnt il <'olltolt, 'uvc still ne cd to block d'l,irrl causatiort, pref erably without
rrplrcrr lto "tllt'riulrt r.vrr1,." sirrr'c tlrc ptlirrt is tt> irttprolc on I)rvidson atrri Clrice.

r9.

ol,,,1lt,ntttut\nl lt,tt,tttt, \r'l\,//,i),1\ l tr'rinrlLny,rt,tliti,r.,\/(),( \/,()ti(/)',tottlltt't'tll

ol ottt r(tlj,,/i(rtli

TIIE UNI'rY ()F ACf'I()N, PERC;EPTION, AND KN()WLEDGE

4. It cannot

Tr{E UNITY OF ACT'ION, PERCEPTI()N' AND KN()WLEDGE

be clernonstrated that our account covers the clefining exam-

himself
just
have
given
list,
list.
issues
the
clainr
that
to
a conrplete
or even any
He
exanrples could be usecl to convey what sort of causatiorl it is that enables a
causal accollnt of perception.

ples envisaged by Grice, since he displays very few, nor does he take

We go beyond that by saying nrore about what sort of causation it is, even
if in the end we too rely on showing rather than telling, as do Grice ancl
Davidson. In order to convey how that is so, it helps to cliscuss an exaillple.
Suppose Macbeth had suffered his dagger hallucination while at the same
time there wrs a dagger at the relevant piace and time, ancl indeed a dagger
just like the one in his hallucination in every perc:eptual respect. 'We can
surely understand the case even described so sparely. In doing so, I suggest,
we rely on Macbeth's getting it right by accident, not conrpetellce.
And we can now explain why and how Macbeth fails visually to represent
the real dagger before him: he lacks the representational relation to it defined
in terrns of conrpetent and apt visual representing. No visual image hosted by
Macbeth aptly represents that real clagger, since none aptly shares any content
with it. Any sharing of content is only accidental and not through the competence ofMacbeth's visuai systenr as it interacts with the real dagger.
Moreover, the exairrples used by Gric-e to counter earlier theories, such
as Price's, are also arnenable to our dornpetence-theoretic account. When
we do not see the sun despite how it aftbcts our visual experiences, it is
o'visually represent" it. And
because we do not
the sanre goes for our eyes.
In neither case do we so rnuch as host any relevant visual inrages, whereas
according to our account we can visually represent only by hosting a visual
irnage that aptly corresponds to the itenr represerlted."

5. As we shall see presently, this approach also helps to solve problems


faced similarly by Davidson's account of intentional action. 'What is "the
right way" in which a doing can be caused by an intention? Here again,

bc itt t scttst'hiddut.frottt tts. lttt tt,t'tni.qlrt still lu'ptrrtir'tt.q tltcttt," l{cply: Wc ncccl to clistinsuish
the property of trerine, srry, bltrc, fl'onl thc r)trrrc of'that pr()pcrty. Thc propcrty rrritl-rt have
the n:rttrrc ola sccontllrry crr:rlitv. Arrtl in tl)rt ('sc tllc rclcv;rnt inlgc w<>rrltl "contain" that
sccondury rrrlrlity, so tll;rt thc irrrrrgc:rntl tltc sky t'otrltl "sll:tt'c" tlt.rt 1't'.rtcry, irt Iny scrtse
.

(tt'rlt,ttt //lir ir, lt,n,l,lt'tirli, l lttt'ntl'ttlntttl ll,llt t llt'l(' llt(')'tttttltut( ,, t1t'i111'lltt'.t,ttttr si.gtt,tl
litt t,r1'luttt'tlllt't tltt tttiti,tl l,t'ttt'ltln,tl t,'iltttl) ,\ly t'r'tt,tl \)'\lt'ut tttilti, 1t lsl tut uitt.t| lltttl ttttt.('
\/,t,,r/\ li illl't

l'( \, ,uttl tl tlit \ \tt ut t,nlilt

ll\ttttt\\lttutt'(l,'\,tlllt,tll,,ttt'ttlll,ttttt't

tttiltlt( lt iltt ls llt,tl r'ntt(lt lit ttltl ront lttttttl(lttt'?


(lttlltt'
r,,)')'\tt'ttttt'ltttt!,tttttt,,l,'1,,l,r,tl,'t',tlllttttt

rtl lt r,ttltr't

23

proper causation turns out to be causation through conrpetence, be it perceptual conlpetence or agential competence.:3

B. A Defense of Manifestation
in the Theory of Action
I. Recall the waiter's knocking over a stack of glasses (while intending to
do so right then ancl there), but only through an attack of nerves caused by
the nervy intention. l)avidson clainrs that no arnrchair analysis of this nratter is either possible or requirecl. In his view intentional actions are analyzble as doings caused by intentions in the right way, with no need for any
further analysis of what collstitutes causation in the rght way.'1
z.

Cornpare a wine glass that shatters upon hitting a hard floor, but only
because it is zapped at the rnoment of inrpact by a hovering fiend who hates
tragility nreeting hardness, r.vhere the zapping ray would have shattered an
iron dumbbelljust as well." Here the fragilityis a source ofthe shattering, but
'We
not in the right way. C)nce agairr we appeal to the convenient "right way."
now say that in orclerfor an ostensible "manifestation" of a disposition to
be a real manifestation, it must derive from the disposition in the right way.

othcr hand, if it s ttot (tpt corresp(,ttdcttct:, tuh, lot?" Reply: I am encouraqecl by the fact that we
continue to say that we see the stars at night, even once we understrncl what is really going
on. [n any case, the relevant col]lpetence lvould not be just the eariier colilpetence. It rrrust

be the nlore encorrrpassine conlperence whose exercise extends all the way to the present
hosting of the relevarrt image, as lvith the seeing of the stars.

:i.

My earlier strggestiorr that refbrence nright also yield to analysis throtrgh conlpetence, l11an-

ifbstation, and aptness derives largely fronr the promise of a lruitful arralogy between objectral perception and refbrence.
t.+. My approirch to intentiol-al actiotr in tcrlns of rlranif-estation of conlpetence is so farjust a
sketclr. And the sketch is basecl on t\'vo restrictions of the subject nratter. Herc ntuttior.s are
jtrst oirr.g b), ,fusiltt, My hope is thereby to skirt the
-jrrst.rrridirqq,,rirrr-t,;urd intt'rrtiott'il|, oirqg is
bro:rcler tcrl'itory covercd by the "intcntionllly oing" of orclinary languaae.
It is inrrortunt t() 11()tc, ilr()r'c()\'er', that an intention becomes a11 attenpl rvhen it is tinre
firr :rctioll. At tllrt point the ttcnlpt nrisht succe ed or filil, ancl if it does succeed, it might do
so .rptly ol inlptly. So. rnorc strictly, ac'tion is apt rrttetrrpt (intention that succeecls aptly right
tllrorrglr tllc tinrc of-lrctiott).
A lillcr (r'crtnrcnt tll.rrry'rrrolc rcstrir'tctl trlric woulil of'coursc nced to engace with a
r.it lr litt'r';tur't'irr .rt trorr tlrr',rr'1'. lltt tlr.rt is l projct't firl rrnotllcr tinlc. We proceed here at
.r lrirllrt'r lcvcl ol',tlrstr'.tr'tiotr lty t'otrsirlct itrg prorrrisirrg ',v;tys itr rvltit'lr rr vit"trrc-tllctlrctic
,rlrfrt r ,1 1 rt t.rY ll.tr.'t' \( )n l('t lr nr.r, t o t ont r ilrtrl t'.

.tt. At,,rtlrrr,,toMt'r',.',,, Xtllt'lrrt(r,'l()/.rl)'l\.llr,ln\rlr\'('\'('rlr,rlt'lirt'tl .rslollorvs: ",r:tot'tt'itl


ol, tlcrtrir\', ()r I'rllcslrt'r .rllt rvrllr ot .rs rl rlrtlr.,u.l,l,'lt l,rt. t',Ir to lul n'rllt,,t .r. rl rvrllr. su,l
,1,'t,,)n( ('nll.rl(.rl.rr1rlt(.rlt(lttoI loIr ('()t

il( ttl\

THE UNITY ()F AC',rI()N, PERCIEPTION, AND KN()WI-EDGE

24

Competencres are a special case of dispositions, that in which the host is


disposed to succeed when he tries, or that in which the host seats a relevant

3.

skill, and is in the proper shape and situation, such that he tries in close
enough worlds, and in the close enough worlds where he tries, he reliabiy
enough succeeds. But this nrust be so in the right way.'n

THE UNITY OF ACTION, PERCEPTION, AND KNOWLEDCE

25

Knowledge conles in two sorts. One is functional, so that its aim can be
teleological, like that of perception. By contrast, the aim of judgnrental
knowledge is like that of intentional action. This is because judgment is a
kind of action, with judgmental belief the corresponding intention.'7
When causation figures in the right u,ay in a1l three of these phenornena, it
is hence the causation ofaptness. It is not enough that the success derue caus-

C. A Defense of Manifestation in
the Theory of Knowledge
-We

ally from conlpetence, for it may be caused deviantly. Rather, the success
nlust be apt.It must manfest the perfornler's sufficient conlpetence.

Third Part

considered an accrount of propositional knowledge, itr first approxinr.aas belief that attains its airu (truth) ancl does so not just by luck but

tion,

through conlpetenc:e. Such knowleclge is then a special case ofperfornrance


that is not just lucky trut apt: i.c., perfurnlance whose success is relevantly
owed to the perforrner's conrpetence. The aptness of a perfornrance is thus
supposed to block an inrportarlt sort of luck or mere coincidence, the sort
that precludes Clettiered subjects from knowing something even when they
believe it both correctly and competently. A belief falls short of knowledge when its truth is owecl too nruch to such luck and not properly to the
believer's conlpetence. In a word, the success of that belief, its truth, must
be apt, nlust be appropriately due to ronrpeterice. And this is where deviant
causation impinges. Exactly how is it that success rnust derive causally from
corilpetence in order to be properly apt, in order to be apt ill such a way
that it does not derive excessively from (credit-denying) luck? Renrember
the archer's success r,vhen the two grlsts intervene. In that case, the success
is still owed causally to the arclrer's conrpeterrce. Why then is it not apt? In
what way is it due excessively to luck rather than cornpetence? Here again
success must do nrore than derive causally fronr sufficient conrpetence in
sone way or other. It nrust do so by maniJestingthat conrpetence.

Are'We beyond Grice and Davidson?


What Sort of Account Is Ours?

A.

LJnderstanding and Ineffability

I. Our

accolrnt goes beyond Grice and Davidson by specifying, in


a perforrnance-theoretic wa the "right way" in which causation must join
together the relevant items: intentions with doings in intentional actioll, sense
experiences with objects in perception, and beliefs with facts in knowledge.'8
We wouid like to understand the metaphysics and epistenrology ofaction,
perception, and knowledge, which we must do through certain concepts,

:7. This will be arsued in Chapter

3.

:tl. We also go beyond Grice by placing perception-not only propositional perception, but
also objectual perception-in the clonrain of biological and psychological conrpetent functioning, and in the clor.nain of bioloeical and psychological performances that satisfy the
AAA strrrcturc of'accrlracy, adroitness, anci aptness.
Note, hou'cver, tht we nct:d nof alree with Grice or Davidson that either perception or

Conclusion of the Second Part


We fincl unity across action, pcrccpti()rr, ancl knowlcclge . All tltre:c are cronstituted by aintirrgs, by pcrfirrrrnrtc'cs witll u constitutivc inr. Ir) pcrrcrcption thc airlr is finrr'tion:rl, tllrouglr tlrc tclcology of'orrr'rcrt'cptttul systcrtts.

'l'llc:riltr of ;ln intcntit,rr:rl .rr'tiort is olrvious irt ils,.'onstitutivr'intcnti<llt.


.l(r

l1

',,t, nnl lrt'roolr, utlt.r,llr(lr lnl{r\{rlr,rrlrl,.r'tlr.rt rl our lr.r'rlrlY l.trrr1 r.r1trcr.'llrrs


lttrl .tl)l)lr'\tnt.rlrilll.lt,,rt, \( t,lrr lrr'lIr l',1,,1t ( lt.tl)lr't I

t',.r

action recltrircs cliicicnt carrsation "in the sanre way." Our progress beyoncl them nright take
thc fbrnr olrc'jcctin* tht irlca altoscther.
It docs sccrrr rlrrrrsiblc, horvcve r', thlt whenever a disposition is manifest in a certain out('()llrc rl crrsl rcl:rtir>n lroltls bctwccn thc rriggctinq evcnt,utd the relevant ontconle. Such a
.'rrsrrl rclrrtirn is tllol tr/ rr.nrr/ involvecl in sttch nlnifbstation. Bttt we cclrtainly do trot need
t();rssunlc tlr;rt. in cvcry (':rsc of'rnnifi'strrti<>n, intrinsicllly the very satltc ctusal relation is
irrvolvt'tl. Wt'ncctl n()t ('vcn.rssunlc tll:rt, tuorc srccificlrlly, itt e','ery case of itlclltittnal ction,
ttr''.tl'ttrr't'lttirrl, tIrt't rrrsrr Irt'l:rtiorr rt't'r.1 lrc irrtlirrsic:rlly tllc sltIltc. Ncitllcr(iricc nor l)avidson
nct'.l .rssunlt'.rrr1'tlr.itlr.rt str()n!',, lnoltlr'r tosul)l)()s('tlt:rtinc\/ct"),('llscofitttcrltioll:tlactioll,
()r()l l)('t(('l)lron,llrt'..rrrr.rl r<'l.rlrorrsol "lllt's:ultt'\()r l, ()r lllt'tclt"t':rltt(';tttsc('ittlscstllcl-clcr'.rrrt t'llt't I "rn Ilr.'.,.rlu('\\'.r\'" lt t.rrr Irc lt'lt,!l)('n llr.rl ".',,tl.,",rll(1 "\\'.r\'\" ttttllt( Itt'tltstlttt ttvt'
or tlt tcr rirrr.,l,l. ,.,, tlr.rt tlr, 1 .rr, nrnltrl'lt't,'.,lrz.rl,lc Ar(l \\'('(.tn l,,ll,)\\'\ltrl rrr tll.rl t,'1,,.tt,1

,l

26

THE

f HE UNITY

uNtry ()F ACTt()N, pEItCEprt()N, AND KN()wl_EDct:

even when these are not helpfully expressible through verbal irrmulas.
need they be thus expressible even when widely shared arnong us.

Nor

Really? How do we understand those oracular clairns?

z. Just cotnpare how we manale to srasp what politeness is, r,vhat it recluires.
No verbal fornrula can fully convey or determine (by explicit convcntion)
',vhat is or is not polite conduct. Polite face-to-face (:onversation sets lirrrits
to the proper distance between the partners, ancl linlits the volunrc ofvoice
and the tone. How is any of this to be captured non-trivially thror-rgh verbal
forrnulas? It seenrs quite hopeless. Yet, sonrehow, antecedent conrnrunity
convention sets those linlits. Such convention recluires anter:eclent agreentent, at least inrplicit agreenrent, which in turn requires colttent that is
shared even rvithout explkit conventional agreenle:11t.
Compare the "ntanifestations" of a conrpetence. A conlnrunity rnight
sinrilarly agree (however in the end we understand sr-rch inrplicit "asreen1ent" ancl its cotttetrt) on what are crases of "nraniestation" of a given contpetence, even with no helpful verbal {brnlula to cover all such cascs. This
is like "politeness," in both general ancl specific respects. (lonsicler the SSS
strttcture (skill, shape, situation) of cornplete colnpe terlc:es, arrcl our collcepts of these, and the irrclucecl SS and S correlates. Take for exanrple our
conrplete driving corlrpetence on a certairr occasion, including (a) our basic
driving skill (retained even when we sleep), along with (b) the shape we
are in at the tine (arvake, sober, etc.), and @ our situation (scateci at the
wheel, on a dry road, etc.). l)rop the situation and you still havc an inner SS
conlpetence. Drop both shape ancl situation ancl you still havc, an inncrntost
S competence: that is, the basic clriving skill retainec{ even w}relr asleep
(in unfortunate shape) in bed (inappropriatcly situated).
Such concepts arc-- broadly sharecl with no benefit of linguistic fbnnulaton.
What counts as nranifbstation seellrs also graspable only in inrplicit ways, as
with etiquette, and not through cxplicit (antl nontrivial) verbal funntrlation.

B. Competences,

f)ispositions,
and Their Manifestations

t. l)l'ivil)t{ ('otttrt'l('n('(' ('onrr's in tlrrt't' v,u'it'tics: Skill ([r;rsit' tllivinrf ('()nrSkill I Slr,rrt' (skill lrlus l,t'nul .r\v,rk,', s.rlrr'r', t'rt'.), ,rntl Skill

pt'lt'lrt t'),

)n

OF ACTION, PERCEPTI()N, AND KNOWLEDGE

Shape * Siturtion (skill plus shape plus being at the wheel ofan operative car
while the roacl is relevantly clry enough, etc.). Only with the relevant SSS
conlpetence are we fully colrrpetent to drive on a given roacl. What deternrines whether we have the in nertnost S conrpetellce? It is presunrably

modal

nlatter: that ifwe tried to drive safely we would reliably enough succeed. But
tn any conclitions? Surely not. It is not at ail likely that we would drive safely,
evcn ifwc triecl, when dead drunk, or on an oily road. But this nray not bear
on our corupetence to drive safbly. There is an array of SSS conditions that
wttuld likely enough yield sLlccess for our atternpts to drive safely. This involves
certain rarlges of the shape we need to be in, and certain ran5les of how we
lxust be related to the road, including the roacl conditions. Communities that
rlse cars and roads are interestecl in certairr particuiar combinations of Shapes
and Situations, and wc are pretty r,vell inrplic:itly agreecl on what those are.
Innernrost driving Skill is then determinecl as the basis for our likely enough
succeedingifwe tried in thosc Shape * Situation combinations.

z. It is not imrnediately obvious that

dispositorts generally, as opposed to

conlpetences specificaily, still have that triple structure. Rut r,vith a bit of
stretcrhing they can be rnade to share it. Thus, we nright consider coinplete
fragility to require the fragile object not only to have a certain inner structLlre, but alscl to be within certain bounds of tenrperature, so that a piece of
glass loses its fragility when heating makes it liquid (molten, flowingliquid).
And one nright even countenance that it loses its fragility once suspended in
outer space. We do speak of our being utcightle ss out there. Without rnuch of
a stretch, then, dispositiorls too can be viewed as corning in three varieties:
first, Seat (or inrrernrost basi$; second, Seat * Shape, including temperature, etc.; and, third, Seat * Shape * Situation. Located in outer space we
are weightiess in a SeShSi way, while we nright still retain our same exact
weight, ancl still count as heav in a SeSh way, or in an innerrnost Se way.
There is an array of SSS conciitions that u'tttiltl likely enottgh result in the
lrreaking of n object whcn subjectecl to a certain sort of stress. This would
involve ccrrtairl rangcs of, the shape it neecls to be in, and certain ranges
of lrow it nrrrst ber situutcd. We who use ot'rjects of that sort are interested
in t:crtairr r:rrticul:rr r'onlbinations c>f Shapcs ancl Situations, and we are
prctty r,vcll irrrplicitly :rsrcctl on whrrt thosc re . Intrenlrost fragility-that
is, Sc:rt is tlrcn dctcnninctl ls tlrc brsis firr thc likcly cnonsh breaking of
tlrc fl-lqilc olr.jct't if it lvcrc strlr.jct'rcrl to tlrc rclcvnt triggcrs in
Sit u,rt ion t'onrlri r r,rtions.

losc

Shapc +

28

THE

uNITy ()F ACTIoN, pERcEprI()N, AND KNowLEDGE

'We

have a large and varie d array of conlnronsense dispositional croncepts:


fragility, flammability, malleabilit etc, These can perhaps all be understood

in terms of our SSS structures, along with relevant triggers and outconres.
An object's outcottte behavior tnanifests a given disposition, then, provided it
flou's causally from that disposition's triggering event(s), when the object has
the relevant Seat, and is in the relevant Shape and Situation. What are the relevant shape, situation, trigger, and outcorne associated with a certain dispositional concept? This rnay simply not be formulable in full explicit detail by
humans who nonetheless agree sufiicientlr in their grasp and deployment of
the concept. A particular disposition, then, rvill have a dstnctue SSS profiie,
with restricted Shape and Situation. Not all dispositions to shatter alnoLlllr ro
fragility. Zapper-dependent clispositiclns, firr exanlple, do not count.

3. But why should we have all this iurplicit agrecnlent on how ro categorize dispositions, and their spec;ia1 cases, such as abilities, nd in turrl corrlpetences? Why do we agree so extensively on whether all entity's output is
to be attributed to a certaitr, recognized disposition hosted by that entity, as
its manifestation, and by extension attributed to the enrity itself?
When the output is good, it is then generally to the entity's c:redit, r,vhen bad
to its discredit. The entity might be an agent who nranifests a colnpetence, or it
rnight be a lifeless patient nranifesting a nlere disposition. Why do we agree so
extetrsively on these dispositions, abilities, conrpetences, and on the credit ancl
discredit that they deternrine (whether this be to the creclit ofa nroral asent, or
to the credit ofa sharp knife), and on the sortals that they help to consritute?'e
Is that not all just part of the instrumentally determined conrnron sense
that hurnans live by?
Such conlmon sense helps us keep track ofpotential benefits and dangers
and how the bearers of these are to be handled. As a special case of how to

handle things and agents that rnanifest dispositions and conrpetences, we


have propriety of encouraging praise or approval, or discouraging blarne

ditttc bettucttt thc,qttttd

tnd tlu' ,trl c,l.rr'.t. ,4nd il is irrtt'rcstirt.g tlttt ottr itttttitiotts

,il<tttt

rrt,dit tcttd tnt

tttott, tt'ttplt'tyill s,t), 1,t'r, il lt'tt.tl /1r.irll/r'(.\'lutt." l{cplv: l,t'r'lr;rps. lrr,rrry't';rsc, rf'ly;rrr:rl6ry, 11,i11
is lt, tlrt'rr ( ()ntl)('l('n( ('s rvrlllrt'srr[rjct I to IrviliHlrt z,,llt'r,.r\ rs (.(l(lu(.ttc. M<r'covcr,
;r stt[tt'ttlttrrc rrtiilrt r'('( ()l1rli.r t' t orttlrt'tcnt t's tlrf li'('nl l() s()nr(. (.\tcnt lior tlr,,sc' r'cr'rizctl

THE UNITy OF ACTI()N, pERCEPTION, AND KNOWLEDGE

2g

or disapproval, which in turn helps to fix the relevant dispositic-rns, abilities,


arld competences in ourselves arld in our fellows.
Such an instrumentally determined common sense must of course be structured against background implicit assumptions about what is norrnal or standard, eitherin general orwith respect to the specific dornain ofperfbrnlance that
may be contextually relevant. Many are the donrains of hurnan performance
that allow and often require degrees of expertise beyond the ordinary: athletic, artistic, medical, academic, le*al, etc., etc. Expert perception, agency,
and knowledge would be deternrined proportionally to the respective levels of
conlpetence set for the specific clomain. This is often set iargeiy by converltion,
or, for llrore basic colnpetences and dispositions, by the requirelnents ofsuccess
in our evolutionary niche. After all, how we credit, discredit, trust, and distrust, has a large bearing on human flourishing, individually and collectively.
Manifestation determines credit and discredit, and is attributable causally to the host of the maniGst disposition in a way that is projectible,
though this is no rnore amenabie to forrnulation than seenrs the projectibility of greenness (or ";reen") by contrast with grueness (or ";rue"). When
something sho'uvs its true colors through manifestation, we can take notice
and revise our view of what to expect from the host of the nranifest disposition. This is in contrast to when the disposition is only mimicked, so that
the correlated trigger prompts the correlated ostensible manifestation, but
only through the trurnping action of the mimic. Such fake nranifestation is
not to the relevant credit, causal or otherwise, of the disposition. And the
host in turn acquires no credit or discredit thereby.

4. Recall the minricking offragility when a fine wine glass is zapped uporl
hittirrg the hard floor. By hypothesis the causal action of our zapper trlrmps
the inner structure of the glass, 'uvhereby it nornrally shatters on impact. Still
that inner structure can be causally operative, as it is through the agency of
the zapper (r,vho hatcs thc irnpact on the harcl floor of the fragility that
lrc spots in the fragilc glas$. Despite being causally operative in that wr1',
through the knorn,lcclgc of the zapper, that inner structure is not causally
opcrativc in thc right way. Ancl this is why the fragility that we normally
rttributc to thc glass is not rcllly nranifbst on that clccasion.so

ctitltrcttc

lry tlrc tlt;tjorttl' ()l t(]rrr\(', tltts 1,,.'r lrt'1'orttl tlrc r<'l.rtryll\'ol rt.t,r,,rzt.tl ((])l)(.t(.lt(.(,s t()
rvcll tlt'lirtt'rl tl,tttl.nlr, \lt( lt,t\ llr,,., ,rf r.1 rrl.rr .,,,)tt\, ot ol 1r.tr rtl.rr ,rolcsstr)ns, ()l (.\,('n
rr tt'llltllt rltsr tlrlttrr',, /t nt.t\ not lrl rrlt.tt.,,lt.rl rlr tlt,.[.lr,,rr,lt.,l,r.., tll,ll .lt(.\l)(.( tlrr lo sut lt
,l,t'.' llt '',
,t',1, ,rl"l',\', \\r'ttt.rt, l,r( lr', t.rllr( r r)n,,ltu( ltn.tl l,'.ttutr'., rl l,.trorvlr.rlrir.
lilf'('n('t.rl,,lr,1,,1

'.t1,

il'l\llr,',,, lr(rrilil((ltoil\\tllrotiltilrril,,(,il.,(.1,ril(.t.rl

'1..rr,,rr1,.,11,,,.

.o. Wc rrriglrt ol-r'oursc rrrr.lcrst.rn..l rr h'o.rrlr'r', nrorc rlc'tt'rtuirrrrlrlc sort ()f'"fi'lrgility" that gettcr..rlizcs tj'orrr tllc sitr,rtl()n\ \\'('r'('(llnrt'fir orrr',rrtlitrrrt'1, li:rgi litv.'['llis nrilrc rlctctnlinlrlc
fiirilitl,rr.'orrl.l.rll.rrv tlr.rt.ul.rltlt'. t ,rt rrrir('\.r t('nll)()r,rr v li',rgilitt'irr tlrc l)t('\('r( ('ol'tltc l:ttclirl z.rpcr '/'irir sort ol li.r4rlrt1'tlrr'.r,l.rss rnt4ltt t'r','rt slt.rtt'tcttr,,rt:tttl1'r,,'ttlt:ut rt,rt tlttttrlt
ltcll (t,r l,rrr',.rr tlt,. r.rt'..r ll,'r'<'lr.rrrl r'rl('n(l\ ln\ ll,rilr',1 Itcr',rrtl lrrrr'',l.rrs lrrttrrr,, lr.rt,llr,'tt

l{} lt()n nt('('lnrt-', lt.t,lt<'r,,) Il,t11

1'1'1',

(lt.tl u',tttl,l Itt'.ttl ('\l('n\ron ol lrtolr( t I rrr.ilr',lr.,rltrlol

THE UNITY OF ACTION, PERCEPTION, AND KN0WLEDGE

3o

When does the relevant belief, experience, or intention yield success in


such a way that it is, respectively, knowledge, perception, or intentiorral
action? That requires an SSSloining of seated Skill, Shape, and Situation,
so as to cause the nranifestation uporl the onset of the trigger, And this rnust
occur appropriately. Consider for exanrple what is required for a trrie nranifestation of fragility as a fine wine glass shatters upon hitting the hard floor.
The shattering of that glass does not nranifcst its fragility ifit shatters because
it is zapped by sonr.eone who hates fragility-meeting-hardness, ifit is zapped
with enough power to shatter an iron durnbbell. This despite the fact that,
through the zapper's knowledge and action, he drrcs nranage to link causally
the fragile structure of the glass with the shattering upon inrpact.
The exarnpie of fragility zapped suggests that a disposition can be nrarrifbst
in a certain outcorne only if it accounts a7tproprately for that outconle.r'This
requires a joining of seated skill, shape, and situation, so as to cause the nranifestation, upon the onset ofthe trigger. And this must take place in the norrnrl
way, which by conrmon corlsent excludes the action of our zapper, even when
he does deviantly nlanaTe to link the trigger with the ostensiblc rnanifestation,

C. How'We Go beyond Appeal


to "The Right'W'ayo'
I.

t.

3I

that when the power zapper shatters the glass because he knows it to be
fragile, the shattering sinrply does rlot intuitively manfest the giass's fragility, arrd that there is no ncctl to rely on any such requirement of appropriateness. Anyone who joins me in finding that plausible enough can rnake the
following bold clainr:
Manifestation enables Lls to go beyond the need to rely on "the right way," or
on "an appropriate way," or any such phrase. Thc rnanifcstation ofcompetences
and other dispositions then provides a solution to the problenr ofspecifying "the
right or appropriate way" as it pertains to action, perception, and knowledge.3'

That includes the problem of causal cleviance. But it also inciudes a problern faced by Grice in his analysis of causation, not exactly a probiem of
cleviance, but one that is ciosely related nonetheless. The causal bearing
of our eyes on ollr visrlal experience is not really deviant, nor is that of the
sun evetl when orlr eyes are open to the daylight with the sun out of view.
Horvever, Grice too ruust rely on an assunrption that the catlsation linking
an object and one's sensory experiences n1llst be causation in a particular
way to be brought out through examples.
Roth problerns o{t specifying the right, appropriate way are solved
through a prinritive relation of nranifestation that has outcome ntanifestations (successful performances) on one side, and conrpetences (perceptual,
-We
can fail to see our eyes, as well as the
agential, epistenric) on the other.
sr1n, despite the heavy dependence of our visual experience on both, as we

is to present our account

proper cross-linsuistic ideology, since the sanre surely goes lirrgtristically lbr other nirtrlral
langtrages. Our discussion in thc nrain tc:xt suggests reasolls u'hy it rTrieht or nright rrot be
advisable to so extencl our language and ideology. This'nvould probably clepend on how likely
it is lbr the relevant comnrunity to encoullter strch zappers. Thtrs, recall the suggc'stiorr in
the text: "Strch an instrumentally cleternrined conurroll sellsc'rlr-lst of corrrse be stnrctured
aEainst backsrorrncl inrplicit assurrrptiotrs rtrout rvht is nornral or stanclrrrrl, cither in gerteral
or with respect to the specific clonlin o1'perfbrnrlnce that nray be coutexttnlly relevrnt."
Chapter 4 rvill clevelop firllcr ccount of'cornpetence, ln account that recounizes the
distinction betrveen ciistal ucl prc'rxitual conrpctences. Strictly, a fi-agilc glss ('rrl rrrlnifbst
its fi:agility by shattcrins un(lcr lvcak crrorrgh zrrppirrg. Antl intlcctl tirrgility scclns rr rloxinral disposition inv<llvinsthc dcgrcc of'(proxirrrrrl) strcss tlr:rt rvill t'arrsc (r'clcv;rrrt) tlisirrtcql'tion. Epistcrrric (onrpctcn('cs:u'c oficrt cttottglt irtrgrrlrtrrrrtlv rlistll, llrxvcl,cr, sirtcc tlrcy
irrr'lutlc tlrc crrrpirir;rl t otrrrctt'n( cs lr'(lttir'('tl lirt'knou,lt'rls('of.tllc cxtctn:rl rvrlt'ltl.
.1

KN()WLEDGE

with a certain nrode sty, by relying explic"appropriateness."


on a requirenlent of
More boldly we nright claim

That

itly

THE UNITY OF ACf't()N, PE,ItCEPTI()N, AND

Ilorvt'vt'r strr.prisinl it rrrrrl'Irt'lo tlc vt'rlr.r llr' .rr't onrplislrt'tl, rrrrr'lr ol oul ust'lil (()ll('c[)tuirl
r'('l)('r't()it'(' t\ n()l 1'.r\'('ll sulrrl,utt(', lr()l ('\'('n \() nnt(lt,rr.rtlt'trr.rlt'lt'tlt'srrrllctl, tlrlotglr llll!,',ln\lr( lot rrul.rttott. ( )rt rlt.rt.',1 ( ()n( ('l)ln.rl r, ll.'n.' ,,1 ,lr|l,)\rlr()n\. ,rlrrlltt's, ( ()nrl)('l('n( ('\.
.ut,l tlrt'r rtr.rtnlcrl .rtr()n', r', ltl.rrr'.rlrli' .r ',lrcr t.rl ,.r',t , rt'lrt t(' our .rl',r('('nr('rrt l,rt l.r t'srlrr rtll

fornrulable content. Cloordinately, rve also lack any non-trivial r.vay of seuritry it through
explicit converrtion. All of this is in line with how etiqtrette is conscituted, learned, and
invoked.
()b.it,ctiott: "Out: pitf,tll <tithis,tppro,tchisthilitdependsontlt<:rcheitgwifusprcadtryrecnrcnt,eut
if iurtirulahlt', rt:,garditry instdttl:.'s o.f thc right kind of'c,tus'ttion or of nttuifestation. But tlrcrc is dis,tqr('('nt(,ttt out:r ()t'tticr crl.{('-r-.{orl(' pcoplc think hm.f,tStdc c,rscs tount, others do not." Reply: Yes,
there is this dcpendence , btrt is it re'ally a pitfall? Consider the eror,viug sense anrong X-Phi
researchers that, for the folk, Ilarney dor'-s knorv. Still, the clear majority opinion among
'We cau deal with
rhilclsopho's rvho rvritc on this topic is that he cloes not really "know."
this ifthc folk Irirvc inrplicitly in nlintl, lirr percepttral sortirrg colrlpeterlce. a sitttational conditiorr rvlrcrcin rrppcarancc (l nrcarr oltjcctilt' appearance) goes with reality. And it is enough
th:rt, firr tllc brrn tlr:rt ll.u'rrc1,h.rrpurs t() scc, that ccxrclitiott be tnet. Philosophers lend on
tllc t'ontr;rry t() c\tcll(l tllc sittrtionrl contlition ftu'ther across nroclal space, so that the
,rppcunrrrt'c/rc:rlity (()llrrc('ti()rr t'oultl rrot too cusily tiril or havc fililcd fbr that strbject at
tlr:r( tilnr'. At'r'or.tling t() ( ()nln()ll scnsc, sivcn lto\v l|:rrrrcy is protclticd ltltil rclatcd to his
t'nvir'orrrrrcrrt. t()() t'.rsrlv'rnillllt ltt'll,vc l;rt't'tl rr .jtrrrt'ttrrc rr"itll;r f ;riltrrc tlf'tll:rt sort, wllcrc thc
rrlr.jt.r'ti'u't..r1r1rt'.1.t(('\('t lrrr'.r l.rq.rrlt'ls l,r,l,,,tutlrtut((l lry tltt'rt'.rlrty of':t t-t'ltl firll lrlrl'tl. I lcrc,
I srrilit'st, u't'rrrr,,lrt .l,r rvt'll l() r('( ()littt/('tt()l.ltt\t ,rltt'lrttl l\\'() "( ()tttl)('l('ll( ('\." I)lriltlstllllrt'rs
lltt'l,tll.,rl('lll()l('(',1\\'1,,()llll',.
ilil1)()\('.l lr,'rt,,1.',1,'llt.rt.ltrt.r,,tl llt(trr',r\tllt.rltolt,tltott(ltll0t.

3z

TFIE

UNITy OI' ACTI()N,

PERCEPTION, AND KN()WLEDGE

view a sunlit scene. Our account would explain that faiiure by noting thar
we would have no corresponding inrages.

2. Some ntay well renlain skeptical of the powers alleged for our prirnitive
concept of "manifestation." To such skeptics we can oft^er, as a fallback,
a nlore rtrodest option whereby, perhaps through exanrples, we can still
explain what is required for proper tnanifestaton. And we coulcl even disown any arrrbition to rely exclusively on explicit verbal fornrulation (as by
invoking "rnanifestation").:t
Even on this nlore modest option, we will have made progress. We will
have specified more fully the sorl of causation involved. And we will have
seen that it is the sanxe sort of causation in all three of our cases: in perception, in action, ancl in knowledge.

Fourth Part
Methodological Context for our Inquiry
In philosophy we often appeal to what we would ordinarily salr or think,

in the exercise of generally sharecl roncepts. But our nrain interest is not
restricted to sematltic or conceptrlal analysis. When we wonder about personal identity, freedorn and respc>nsibility, the nrind and its states and contents, justice, rightness of action, happiness, and so on, our nrain focus is

not, or not just, the words or the concepts. There are things beyond words
and cotcepts whose nature r,ve rvish to understand. The ntetaphysics of
persons goes beyond the semantics of the word "person" and its cogrlates,
and even beyond the correlated croncreptual analysis.
The sanre goes for epistenric concerns such as the nature of knowledge and
other epistemic phenonrena. Consicler the senrantics of epistenric vocabulary, and even the conceptual structure of epistenrology ancl its nornrativity.

It

seerns an opelt possibility that

our

wr>rcls and corr'cpts

rc nclt in the best

just as they starrcl, firr graspins ancl unclc:rstancling thc rclcvant clonraiu
ttfobiectivc pltcttott'lcn:1. Wlry not lcrvc'opcn thc lossibility oftcr-nlinological
shape,

1.1

. Wc rrrrr',lrt ('\'('n t.it,rnl (ll,rt \\'(.rr,ul{)l

rt.l1,r.x, lrrsrvcl1,,rrr <.xlrlrt rl vt'r1.,.llirnrrul,ltion. AlrlrlVsts

TIIE UNITY ()F ACTION, PERCEPTI()N, AND KN()WLEDGE

33

and conceptual intprovement in epistenr.ology in a way anaiogous to what is


fanriliar in science when we reconfigure terminology? This often happens
even with ternls and concepts firrnly entrenched in conunon sense, as with
the ideology offish, or ofvegetables, fruits, and nruch else. If so, semantic and
conceptual analysis rnight still remain an excellent start in epistemology. Such
analysis would renrain important in various ways to the epistemologist, and to
the philosopher generally. But we rnight also be able to delineate phenonrena
rvhose importance is obscured by ordinary speech ancl thought.
If so, that nright also, as a bonus, help throw light on pervasive and persistent clisagreenrents so comrl.on in philosophy. Some of us mayjust be trying
too hard for the exact, fully general serrlatltic or conceptual analysis, otte
that will apply smoothly and directly to all thought experinrents. And those
of us impressed by a sirnple ancl iiluminating take on sone range ofphenornena nray just be right to "bite certain bullets," if by so doing we can distinguish a type of phenornenon that seems plainly important in the dornain of
interest, whose reiations to other such phenomena should also be ofinterest.
We rnay then reject an ostensible counterexanrple, while allowing that the
example points to som.e further phenotrtena interestingly related to those of
nlore direct and centrai interest to us iu our specific inquiry.
Philosophical progress might then take a fornr sinlarto the kind ofscientific
progress that involves conL-eptual inrovation. We nray find in the phenomena
themselves differences that seem inrportant even if there are no proprietary
terms or concepts that correspond to them neatly and without exception. Ifso,
c:lose ternrs or colrcepts so that they will help us to
and to cut the donrain nrore closely at thejoints.
phenomena,
relevant
nrark the
Finally, once our objective is analysis that is metaphysical, rather than

it rnay behoove us to stretch

lirrguistic or cotlceptual, bullet*biting does nttt antotrnt to giving up on


intuitions. The rnetaphysical project is driven cruciaily by intuitions
concerning the phenonrena thenrselves, aud not just by intuitions about
the (proper use of) the larrguage usecl to describe thern, nor about the
content of thc rclatccl c:ollcrepts. Aftcr all, to bite the bullet, on the prop<rsal flr>atccl, is prcc:iscly uotiust to describe or understand but to change
our givcrr larrurragc) or crollcrcpts, at least by addition, but perhaps also by
subtrur:tit)l). ()r by rrroclific:etiort. 'fruc, the relcvant nletaphysical intuitiolts'uvill nccrl r'orrc'cptu;rl t'ontcnt, but our fcrc:tts ort thc phenonrena
rrr,ry lc;rtl to t'on('cpts tlr;rt lrc nrotlilicrl, ()r cvctl c'tritc ltcw. We neecl not
lrc rcstl'it'tctl to t'on('('l)ts rrst'tl ',vlrcn wc /rcgil, ()tlt'irrttriry. ()rr thcl colttr'.u-v, otn'itt,ttir v ttl.ty l)loP1'ly lr.'.r,1 l() l'('\'isioll.