What is Theoretical Knowledge?

Søren Harnow Klausen*, Esben Nedenskov Petersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


While it is common in social epistemology, philosophy of education and sociology to speak of theoretical knowledge, the concept of theoretical knowledge used in ordinary discourse has not been properly examined, and its relations to other types of knowledge remain unclear. This article argues that this ordinary language notion of theoretical knowledge has a distinct meaning different from the meanings of terms for other knowledge types, for example, knowledge‐that, and meta‐cognitive knowledge, and provides an analysis that characterizes theoretical knowledge as distinguished by its indirectness. The article then discusses the implications of this view for the practical role of theoretical knowledge and suggests that a reappraisal of its epistemic significance is due.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)559-577
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • epistemology
  • notion of
  • social epistemology
  • theoretical and practical knowledge
  • theoretical knowledge


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