Instructor: Dr. Vrinda Dalmiya
Office: SAKAMAKI B 303
Office Hours: TTH, Noon – 1 PM and by appointment
Duncan Pritchard, What Is This Thing Called Knowledge? (DP)
Xerox packet of articles: available at EMA CAMPUS COPY
- Expose students to debates in the discipline of epistemology.
- Familiarize them with some key concepts in Western Theory of Knowledge
- Introduce them to close readings of philosophical texts.
- Enable them to discern and assess arguments/reasons in support of a philosophical view
- Initiate writing clear expositions, analyses and philosophical critiques
1 In-Class Exam: 25 points (Date to be announced – around Spring Break)
3 Essays – 6-7 pages: 25 points each (Third Essay due during the Finals week)
Phil 213 is a writing intensive course. Students who do not complete all writing assignments will get a D- or an F and will not earn W Focus credit.
Any student who plagiarizes in this course will receive a failing grade and will be referred to the Dean of Students. So please cite your sources.
If you feel you need reasonable accommodations because of the impact of a disability, please (i) contact the KOKUA Program, or (ii) speak with me privately to discuss your specific needs. I will be happy to work with you and the KOKUA program to meet access needs related to your documented disability.
Though you will not be graded on attendance, presence and participation is crucial for doing well in this course. Please get in touch with me immediately if you find yourself getting lost – it is generally a good idea not to wait till the very last minute to air your problems!
Socrates: .…Tell me: Is it not true that learning about something means becoming wiser in that matter?
Theatetus: Of course.
Soc: And what makes people wise is wisdom, I suppose.
Soc: And is that in any way different from knowledge?
Theat: Is what different?
Soc: Wisdom. Are not people wise in the things of which they have knowledge?
Soc: Then knowledge and wisdom are the same thing?
Soc: Well, that is precisely what I am puzzled about: I cannot make out to my satisfaction what knowledge is. Can we answer that question? What do you all say?....
This extract from Plato’s Theatetus brings out the central concern of a theory of knowledge or epistemology. In answering the question What is knowledge?, contemporary philosophers raise a host of related issues - How is knowing different from believing? What is it to be justified or have evidence for our beliefs? Does human knowledge have indubitable foundations in beliefs that can not be doubted? Or is everything open to doubt? Overarching these queries is the concern voiced more frequently these days: What is the appropriate method of investigating these questions? And, what if any, is the political significance of such questions? Can, in other words, a theory of knowledge lead to a more just society?
TOPICS & READINGS
The readings below have been arranged thematically and NOT per class session. We will follow the order given below and each class I will also announce what you should read for the next class period.
We may spend more than one class period on a single topic or reading: the pace will be determined by class interest and I might add or eliminate some topics/readings in accordance with the general trend of our discussions.
You are REQUIRED to do the readings (multiple times) and participate in class discussion. We might have in class written exercises periodically to ensure your participation.
PART I: INTRODUCTORY ISSUES
1. Introduction: What is epistemology? Why study knowledge? What is a normative study of knowledge?
DP – Chap. 1 & 2
Clifford, “Ethics of Belief” – Xerox
James, “The Will to Believe” – Xerox
2. Definition of Knowledge
DP - Chap. 3
Chisholm, “Problem of the Criterion” - Xerox
Ayer, “The Right to be Sure” - Xerox
Gettier, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” – Xerox
3. Scepticism – about the world
Sextus Empiricus, “Outlines of Pyrrhonism” - Xerox
DP – Chap. 12
Russell, “Appearance and Reality” – Xerox
Descartes, Meditation I – Xerox
4. Scepticism - about Other Minds
DP – Chap 11
Goldman, “Empathy, Mind and Morals”
PART II: SOME SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE
5. Sense Perception
DP – Chap 7
6. Testimony and Epistemic Dependence
Hardwig, “Epistemic Dependence” – Xerox
DP – Chap. 8
PART III: EPISTEMIC JUSTIFICATION
7. Nature of Justification: Foundationalism / Coherentism
DP - Chap 4
Bonjour, “Foundationalism: The Main Conception” – Xerox
Bonjour, “The Elements of Coherentism” - Xerox
8. Internalism and Externalism
Crumley, “Externalism and Internalism” - Xerox
DP – pp. 53- 55
9. Reliabilism and Virtue Epistemology
DP – Chap 6
Lemos, “Reliabilism and Virtue Epistemology” - Xerox
Zagzebski, “Ideal Agents and Ideal Observers in Epistemology” - Xerox
PART IV: QUESTIONS OF METHOD & SIGNIFICANCE
10. Naturalised Epistemology
Noah Lemos - Xerox
11. Knowledge and Politics
(The readings here are tentative and the Xeroxes will be made available towards the end of the course)
Code, “Taking Subjectivity into Account” - Xerox
Lloyd, “The Maleness of Reason” - Xerox
Nussabum, “Emotions as Judgements of Value and Importance” – Xerox
Dalmiya/Alcoff, “Are ‘Old Wives’ Tales Justified?” - Xerox
Harding, “Rethinking Standpoint Epistem: What is Strong Objectivity?” – Xerox
Longino, “Subjects, Power, and Knowledge” – Xerox