chapter  4
6 Pages

Three conceptions of teaching

In what follows, I will continue to bracket the question whether the apparently epistemic second-personal relation of believing someone, or any analogue to it that might appear in the case of teaching and learning, “really” contributes to the epistemology, “properly construed”, of learning from others. The reason for this is that my primary aim is to arrive at an adequate description of teaching and learning as a second-personal phenomenon (of, it will emerge, a quite distinctive kind). I take this description to be prior to any attempt to descry in it a kind of “second-personal reason for belief”. Like Moran, whose concern with getting told and being believed “is not so much with the conditions for knowledge as with the nature of the two sides of the relationship” (2005, 2), my interest in teaching and learning is concerned with the shape or structure or form of the relationship that holds between teacher and learner; I leave it to others to ask whether aspects of this relationship – which surely has a claim on ordinary consciousness to be credited as one of epistemic dependence – should be downgraded to forms of merely informational, causal, or instrumental dependence, in case the topic of “genuinely” epistemic dependence is reserved for that which pertains to the justificatory status of the learning subject’s cognitive state. Working, for the sake of the discussion, with a capacious conception of epistemic dependence (on which other purposes might dictate the imposition of stricter constraints), I want to ask: how (if at all) does the learner’s knowledge or understanding depend epistemically on the teacher? In the next section, I will discuss three ways of distinguishing teaching from telling with a view to answering this question.