Spring 2011 Schedule of Courses

PHILOSOPHY 611: EPISTEMOLOGY

TUESDAY
SECTION 1, 6:00 - 8:40 P.M.

PROFESSOR MYLAN ENGEL JR.

REQUIRED TEXT
Ernest Sosa and Jaegwon Kim (eds.), Epistemology: An Anthology, Second Edition
An e-reserve course packet

COURSE CONTENT

The course has two main goals: (1) to provide students with a thorough grounding in contemporary epistemology, and (2) to have each student produce a polished 3000-word epistemology paper ready for submission to regional and national conferences. The course is divided into two parts:

The first half of the course will be devoted to skepticism. We will begin by surveying several traditional arguments for skepticism, including Cartesian demon arguments, brain-in-vat arguments, evidential gap arguments, and Sorites arguments. We will then examine a number of responses to the skeptic, including the Moorean response, the response from semantic externalism, the response from epistemic externalism, relevant alternatives responses that deny deductive closure, contextualist responses, and concessive responses.

The second half of the class will be devoted to epistemic justification and the Gettier problem. Here, we will explore the nature of epistemic justification and its role the theory of knowledge. We will examine foundationalist, coherentist, and reliabilist theories of epistemic justification. Other topics in this section of the course include: the internalist/externalist debate, fallibilism vs. infallibilism, the nature of defeasible reasoning, the Gettier problem, epistemic luck, the analysis of knowledge, causal theories of knowledge, second-order knowledge, and metaepistemological skepticism.

COURSE FORMAT
Lecture and discussion. Requirements include: mandatory attendance, a midterm exam, participation in a seminar conference, a 3000-word seminar paper, a final exam, and a series of micro-essays, weekly papers posted on Blackboard, and brief in-class presentations.