Chapter

What Is An Ability?

Robert N. Johnson

in Self-Improvement

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199599349
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731556 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599349.003.0008
What Is An Ability?

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We ought to improve our abilities. But what exactly is an ability, such that it can be improved? Two extant accounts of abilities are considered, one from the virtue epistemology of John Greco, the other from the philosophy of mind and language of Ruth Millikan. It is the view of the author that these accounts complement each other, but need to be supplemented with the idea that an ability is essentially improvable. If correct, then Greco is wrong that an ability is a creditable disposition, since if a disposition needs improvement, it will not be creditable.

Keywords: ability; Greco; Millikan; skill; philosophy of language; philosophy of mind; virtue epistemology

Chapter.  6440 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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