At least since Aristotle, practical skill has been thought to be a possible model for individual ethical development and action. Jonathan Birch’s ambitious proposal is that practical skill and tool-use might also have played a central role in the historical emergence and evolution of our very capacity for normative guidance. Birch argues that human acquisition of motor skill, for example in making and using tools, involves formation of an internal standard of correct performance, which serves as a basis for normative guidance in skilled thought and action, and in the social transfer of skills. I suggest that evaluativemodeling, guidance, and learning play a more basic role in motor skill than standards of correctness as such-indeed, such standards can provide effective normative guidance thanks to being embedded within evaluative modeling and guidance. This picture better fits the evidence Birch cites of the flexibility, adaptability, and creativity of skills, and can support a generalized version of Birch’s ‘skill hypothesis’.
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