PHIL 450 A: Epistemology

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
SAV 139
William Talbott
William J. Talbott

Additional Details:

Do we know anything?  If so, what do we know and how do we know it?  What is knowledge?  What sort of justification is necessary for knowledge?  In the sense of justification in which it is necessary for knowledge, are we justified in believing anything?  If so, what are we justified in believing and how are we justified in believing it?  Can we know or be justified in believing an answer to any of the previous questions?  If so, on what basis?  Do the answers to the previous questions depend on one's political or other commitments?  In this course, we will consider various attempts to answer all these questions.  The course aims to familiarize the students with some of the most important work in contemporary epistemology and to develop their ability to understand it and to critically evaluate it.  The course will provide students with an opportunity to develop their ability to explain difficult philosophical readings and issues, to argue for their own views, and to take seriously the views of those with whom they disagree. 

The course readings will include readings on foundationalism, coherence theories, pragmatism, virtue epistemology, rationalism, naturalism, internalism, externalism, and feminist epistemology.  We will also discuss the epistemological relevance of psychological work on implicit bias.  The course requirements include two papers (5-7 pages each), a Midterm Exam, and a Final Exam.  Graduate students will substitute a term paper for the final exam.  Students who successfully complete the course will earn "W" credit for the course. Prerequisites:  One previous course in philosophy or the permission of the instructor.  No freshmen.  Meets I&S requirement.

TEXT: The Theory of Knowledge: Classical and Contemporary Readings, Louis P. Pojman (3rd ed.).

Other course readings will be available in PDF format on the PHIL 450 Canvas site.

Catalog Description: 
Systematic study of some of the main problems of the theory of knowledge, such as: the definition of "knowledge"; a priori knowledge; perception and knowledge of the external world; and whether knowledge has or requires a foundation. Emphasis varies from quarter to quarter.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
August 7, 2017 - 9:15pm