Academic year
Esa Díaz León
Department of Philosophy
Universitat de Barcelona
Master courses
Module 7. Issues in Contemporary Theoretical and Practical Philosophy
2015-02-24 - 2015-05-26
Tue. 15-17:30
Room 411, Facultat de Filosofia, UB


This course will offer a survey of some recent debates in contemporary epistemology, including: whether knowledge is analyzable, whether knowledge is contextual, whether skepticism can be refuted, whether there is a priori knowledge, whether there is immediate justification, whether justification is internal or external, and whether truth is the primary epistemic goal. 

This is a tentative list of topics, the defintive one will be given the first day of class:

1. “Should Knowledge Come First?”, by Tim Williamson, Trent Dougherty and Patrick Rysiew. 

    2. “Is Knowledge Closed Under Known Entailment?”, by Fred Dretske and John Hawthorne.

    3. “Is Knowledge Contextual?”, by Earl Conee and Stewart Cohen.

    4. “Do Practical Matters Affect Whether You Know?”, by Jeremy Fantl, Mathew McGrath, and Baron Reed.

    5. “Can Skepticism Be Refuted?”, by Jonathan Vogel and Richard Fumerton.

    6. “Are Intellectually Virtuous Motives Essential to Knowledge?”, by Jason Baehr and Linda  Zagzebski.

    7. “Can Knowledge Be Lucky?”, by Duncan Pritchard and Stephen Hetherington.

    8. “Is There A Priori Knowledge?”, by Laurence BonJour and Michael Devitt.

    9. “Is There Immediate Justification?”, by James Pryor and Juan Comesaña.

    10. “Can Belief Be Justified Through Coherence Alone?”, by Catherine Elgin and James Van Cleve.

    11. “Is Justification Internal?”, by John Greco and Richard Feldman.

    12. “Is Truth the Primary Epistemic Goal?”, by Jonathan Kvanvig and Marian David.


      There will be a required textbook for the course: Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, 2nd edition, edited by Matthias Steup, John Turri and Ernest Sosa (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014). All the assigned readings are included in the textbook, so students are expected to purchase their own copy. (It is available as a paperback and as a kindle version on, and it is also available for rent here:

      There will be 12 sessions, and each one will focus on a different debate of current interest in contemporary epistemology. Students are expected to read the assigned readings in advance and prepare questions and comments for discussion. After the first introductory session, each session will be run as a discussion-intensive seminar, where all students are expected to ask questions and participate in the discussion. Students are also expected to volunteer to do at least one presentation during the term. These presentations will be 15-20 minutes long, and the student is supposed to summarize and explain one central argument from the assigned readings. The plan is to have 1 or 2 presentations at the beginning of each session to get discussion started. Students can choose the date and topic of their presentations during the first, introductory session on 24/02/2015 (see tentative list of topics below). Suggestions by email before that date are also welcome.


      The final grade for the course will be obtained on the basis of a final research paper (3000 words) (60%), class participation (20%), and a class presentation (20%).


      Intented Learning Outcomes:


      Basic Competences:

      CB6 – Students should be able to critically understand central texts in epistemology in a way that puts them in a position to develop and apply original ideas.

      CB9: Students should be able to communicate effectively their arguments and conclusions to a specialized audience in a clear and rigorous manner.

      CB10: Students should be able to acquire learning skills that allow them to pursue their studies in an autonomous manner.


      General Competences:

      CG1: Students should be able to analyze, assess and construct valid arguments, and to identify formal and informal fallacies.

      CG2: Students should be able to design, create and develop original research projects in their chosen areas of study in epistemology.

      CG4: Students should be able to work both autonomously and as part of a team, in order to provide arguments for and against different positions in epistemology, and provide examples.


      Specific Competences:

      CE1: Students should be able to critically engage with the concepts and methods of contemporary epistemology.

      CE2. Students should be able to identify the core arguments and theories of contemporary epistemology.

      CE4. Students should be able to assess the writings of leading contemporary philosophers in the field of epistemology.

      CE5. Students should be able to identify and critically engage with the current state of a particular philosophical debate, and form a reasoned view, even if provisional, about it.


      CE7. Students should be able to critically use specialized terminology in the field of epistemology.