PHIL 550A Seminar in Epistemology: The Epistemology of Normativity
The topic of this course is the epistemology of the three main normative domains, the domain of morality, the domain of non-moral practical rationality, and the domain of epistemology itself. These domains are normative, because their fundamental ideas, of what is morally right or morally wrong, of what is just or unjust, of what if practically rational or irrational, and of what is epistemically rational or irrational are normative and not purely descriptive (at least they do not seem to be purely descriptive). There are two possibilities for the epistemology of any normative domain, either the domain contains some truths or the domain does not. If the domain does not contain any truths, then there is no real epistemology of that domain. Instead of an epistemology, we would expect an explanation of why it seems or has seemed that there are some truths in that domain. If the domain does contain some truths, then an important issue is whether it makes sense for us to believe that we have some kind of epistemic access to those truths and, if so, what kind of epistemic access we might have. In the course, we will read a variety of approaches to answering these questions for each of the three main normative domains. The seminar requirements include weekly readings and weekly short essays on the readings, a presentation to the seminar, and a term paper.
Philosophy graduate students are encouraged to enroll. Graduate students in other departments and advanced philosophy undergraduates may enroll with the permission of the professor. Seminar readings are still to be determined.