Philosophy Presentation to be Held at Ashland University

Philosophy Presentation to be Held at Ashland University

9/16/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – The Ashland University Philosophy Department and the Philosophy Club as well as Phi Sigma Tau are sponsoring a Philosophy Presentation that will feature Dr. Evan Riley, assistant professor of philosophy from the College of Wooster. The event is set for Friday, Sept. 25, at 3 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall of the Dwight Schar College of Education.

Riley will deliver a talk titled “Understanding Knowing How,” which will talk about the difference between knowing “how to do something” and knowing “that something is the case.” 

The event is free and open to the public and those with questions can contact Dr. Louis Mancha, associate professor of philosophy at Ashland University at

In recent years, the philosopher Jason Stanley has been defending a doctrine of intellectualism about knowledge how. The basic thought is that knowing “how to” is fundamentally knowing a proposition; it is as propositional as any other kind of knowledge that. This doctrine is of course contrary to Gilbert Ryle’s view (with which many still have sympathy) that there is a basic distinction of kind: knowing how to (on the one hand) and knowing that (on the other).

At this event, Riley will consider an argument against Stanley’s intellectualism. The argument hinges on appeal to the nature of skilled performance, and comes in two stages. Stage one is an elementary objection, which he expects Stanley’s defender to answer by appeal to the concept of a practical mode of presentation (or practical way of thinking). In stage two, he will submit this appeal to critical scrutiny and find it wanting. The lesson Riley draws is that knowing “how to” should not be construed as the Stanley style intellectualist would have it.

Riley teaches such subjects as ethical theory, logic, political philosophy, biomedical ethics and the philosophy of mind. He is a generalist by temperament and was educated at the Universities of Louisville and of Pittsburgh. He has published on the self-defeating character of libertarianism and on the poverty of Amartya Sen’s criticisms of Rawls.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.