The Dennes Room

Philosophy 122

Fall 2011

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
122 Theory of Knowledge Stroud TuTh 11-12:30 159 Mulford

An upper-division course on the philosophical theory of knowledge. Not a general survey of the field, but an examination and discussion of the nature and source of three fundamental epistemological problems.

How does what we perceive by the senses on a particular occasion give us knowledge of what is so in our immediate environment at that time?

How does what we perceive or have perceived in the past give us reason to believe something about what we have not yet perceived?

How does what one person perceives to be true of another person give the perceiver reason to believe something about what the other person thinks or feels?

It has proved difficult to find philosophically satisfying explanations of knowledge or reasonable beliefs of these kinds. This course will concentrate on the distinctive philosophical character of the problems, on the conceptions of human perception, thought, belief, and knowledge that appear to be responsible for the ‘sceptical’ outcome in each case, and on how, if at all, these obstacles are to be overcome.

Two lecture-discussion classes and one mandatory discussion section each week. Lectures and discussions will presuppose close reading of material available in a Philosophy 122 Reader. Barry Stroud’s The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism would be useful as background.

In addition to whatever writing is assigned in connection with discussion sections, students will be expected to write three five-page papers during the semester, one on each of the three philosophical questions. Possible paper topics will be suggested in each case.

Previously taught: FL10, FL09, FL07, SP07, FL05, FL04.