Theory of Knowledge I

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Course Description

This course is an advanced introduction to epistemology. Epistemology is the area of philosophy concerned with articulating the necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge. In this course, we will study three issues for the traditional analysis of knowledge: Pyrrhonian skepticism, academic skepticism, and the social element of epistemology. We will engage with primary material foundational to epistemology by philosophers such as Plato, Sextus Empiricus, Audi, BonJour, Zagzebski, James, Sosa, Code, and more.

Course Texts

  1. Readings on electronic reserve.
  2. Weston, Anthony. A Rulebook for Arguments, 4th. ed. (Hackett, 2009).

Course Requirements

Requirement Description Weight Date
Midterm One midterm test on the material covered from weeks one to five (inclusive). 15% 08 Oct
Essay One essay developed in three stages over the course of the term. 50% See description
Participation Assessed on the quality and quantity of participation. 10% See description
Final Examination One sit-down cumulative examination. 25% See WebAdvisor

Course Schedule

Week Topic Readings
1 “Welcome” Tues No class; no readings.
Thurs Syllabus
2 “The Traditional Analysis and the Regress Argument” Tues Plato, Meno (97a-end) & Thaetetus (pp.402-9)
Thurs Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism     (Book 1 (pp. 81-8))
3 “Foundationalism” Tues Audi, R. “Psychological Foundationalism,” parts I and II
Thurs “”, part III onward.
4 “Coherentism” Tues BonJour, L. “The Coherence Theory of    Empirical Knowledge”, parts I and II
Thurs “”, part III.
Proposal due on 30 Sept
5 “Infinitism and Midterm” Tues Klein, P. “Human Knowledge and the Infinite Regress of Reasons”
Thurs Midterm; no readings.
Midterm on 08 Oct
6 “Hyperbolic Doubt” Tues Fall Study Day; no class or readings.
Thurs Descartes, R. Meditations I & II
7 “Reliabilism” Tues Alston, W. “How to Think about Reliability”
8 “Virtue Epistemology” Tues Zagzebski, L. Virtues of the Mind (selections)
Prospectus due on 30 Oct
9 “Contextualism” Tues Dretske, F. “The Pragmatic Dimension of Knowledge”
10 “Ethical Belief” Tues Clifford, W. “The Ethics of Belief”
Thurs James, W. “The Will to Believe”
11 “Evidence” Tues Code, L. “Taking Subjectivity Into Account”
Thurs Goodman, N. “The New Riddle of Induction”
12 “Reasonable Disagreement” Tues Feldman, R. “Reasonable Religious    Disagreements”
Thurs Elga, A. “Reflection and Disagreement”
13 “Truth and Bullshit” Tues Elgin, C. “True Enough”
Thurs Frankfurt, H. “On Bullshit”
Paper due on 30 Nov
Unit One:

Pyrrhonian skepticism

Unit Two:

Academic skepticism

Unit Three:

Social epistemology