Citation Millar A (2009) What is it that Cognitive Abilities are Abilities to Do?. Acta Analytica, 24 (4), pp. 223-236. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12136-009-0062-4; https://doi.org/10.1007/s12136-009-0062-4
Abstract This article outlines a conception of perceptual-recognitional abilities. These include abilities to recognize certain things from their appearance to some sensory modality, as being of some kind, or as possessing some property, or as being some specified individual. An assumption of the article is that these abilities are crucial for an adequate understanding of perceptual knowledge. The specific aim here is to contrast those abilities with abilities or competences as conceived in the virtue-theoretic literature, with particular reference to views of Ernest Sosa and John Greco. In the course of the discussion, it is emphasized that the notion of exercising a perceptual-recognitional ability is a success notion: exercising such an ability is nothing less than acquiring knowledge. Even so, the view can make sense of our fallibility. It can also be defended in the face of an objection stemming from consideration of what are here called success-rate abilities.