◁ Back to All Syllabi

Epistemology – Theories of Knowledge

This course gives students a broad yet detailed introduction to epistemology, the branch of philosophy that studies knowledge and related topics such as belief, justification, perception, and truth. We will consider questions such as: What is knowledge? What are beliefs? What does it mean to say that a belief is true? What is justification? How are beliefs justified (if they are at all)? To what extent do I have control over what I believe? Is knowledge possible? Is knowledge valuable? What is an epistemic virtue? Students can expect to become familiar with a great many “isms” as we proceed: skepticism, foundationalism, coherentism, reliabilism, evidentialism, internalism, externalism, voluntarism, and more. But we want to try as best we can to pay attention to both the trees and the forest. The goal is to develop a sense of the major concerns and positions in contemporary debates in epistemology. We must also, of course, include meta-questions about the methods of epistemology and the value of knowledge.