Topics in epistemology (5cr)
- 2019-02-12 - 2019-04-30
- Tuesdays, 15:00-18:00
- UB, Philosophy Faculty, room 401
Do we know that we are not in the Matrix? What else should be added to truth in order for a believed proposition to count as knowledge? Does perception immediately justify our empirical beliefs? What does it take for a proposition to be epistemically justified? Is there a distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in this course.
The overall aim of the course is to familiarise you with the main issues and positions in contemporary epistemology about the problem of external world scepticism, the analysis of knowledge, the alleged different values between knowledge and truth, the notion of justification, and so on. The course will put you in a position where you can give reasoned arguments for your own views on the central questions of epistemology.
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. (Both paperback and kindle editions are available on amazon.es)
There will be ten three-hour classes. After the first introductory session led by the instructor, each session will be run as a discussion-intensive seminar, where you are all expected to ask questions and participate in the discussion. You are expected to volunteer to do at least one presentation during the term. These presentations will be 15-20 minutes long. The seminar leaders will summarise and critically explain the central arguments from the assigned readings. You are expected to carefully read the assigned readings in advance and prepare questions and comments for discussion.
you can choose the date and topic of their presentations during the first session on 12/02/2018 (see the preliminary syllabus below).
The module will be evaluated by a weighted combination of various factors. Participation in class will be evaluated in terms of quality of preparation and of contributions to the discussion. Class presentation will be evaluated in terms of clarity of presentation. The essay will be due some time after the end of classes. You will be provided with a set list of questions. You can choose one of the questions and answer it, or else you can take it as a general guide or source of inspiration. The questions will be made available in the last third of the course. The essay will have a strict word limit of 3000 words. The weighting of the three factors is as follows:
Class participation: 15 %.
Presentation: 25 %.
Critical essay: 60 %.
- (Optional): First drafts, in order to receive feedback by the instructor: 1st
- Final version of the essay: 25th
(-) Stanford Encyclopaedia Entry on the topic (accessible introduction, it contains links to other entries on most of the topics we will cover):
(-) Pritchard, D. (2013) What Is This Thing Called Knowledge?, London: Routledge.
Preliminary syllabus with readings for class:
Week 1 (February 12) – Introduction to Epistemology
Week 2 (February 19) – Scepticism and Explanation
Ch. 5: “Can Skepticism Be Refuted?”, by Jonathan Vogel and Richard Fumerton.
Week 3 (February 26) – “Knows”
Ch. 3: “Is Knowledge Contextual?”, by Earl Conee and Stewart Cohen.
Week 4 (March 5) – Closure
Ch. 2: “Is Knowledge Closed Under Known Entailment?”, by Fred Dretske and John Hawthorne.
Week 5 (March 12) – Justification and Dogmatism
Ch. 9: “Is There Immediate Justification?”, by James Pryor and Juan Comesaña.
Week 6 (March 19) – Internalism vs. Externalism about Justification
Ch. 13: “Is Justification Internal?”, by John Greco and Richard Feldman.
Week 7 (March 26) – Knowledge and Luck
Ch. 7: “Can Knowledge Be Lucky?”, by Duncan Pritchard and Stephen Hetherington.
Week 8 (April 2) – Knowledge-First Epistemology
Ch. 1: “Should Knowledge Come First?”, by Tim Williamson, Trent Dougherty and Patrick Rysiew.
Week 9 (April 9) – The A Priori-A Posteriori Distinction
Ch. 8: “Is There A Priori Knowledge?”, by Laurence BonJour and Michael Devitt.
Week 10 (April 30) – Pragmatic Encroachment
Ch. 4: “Do Practical Matters Affect Whether You Know?”, by Jeremy Fantl, Matthew McGrath, and Baron Reed.