Teaching Theory of Knowledge

Introduction to Epistemology:
A Topical Approach

CONTRIBUTORS: William Morris, Kevin Possin.

      This course is an upper-division undergraduate introduction to epistemology which concentrates on the analysis of knowledge and the theory of justification. It presupposes a general introduction to philosophy at the freshman and sophomore level. It begins with the traditional justified true belief account of knowledge, and charts some of the problems which have been raised for that analysis, beginning with Gettier's classic paper of 1963. The course follows the structure of subsequent attempts to provide a theory of justification.


Roth, M. and Galis, L. (eds.). Knowing: Essays in the Analysis of Knowledge. University Press of America. Hereafter cited as 'R&G'.

Pappas, G. and Swain, M. (eds.). Essays on Knowledge and Justification. Cornell University Press. Hereafter cited as 'P&S'.

Topics and Readings

Section 1. Preliminaries. Introductory Concepts
Definition and analysis: necessary and sufficient conditions. Counter-examples. Philosophically informative analyses versus dictionary definitions.

Section 2. The Traditional Analysis of Knowledge
Ayer, A. J. The Problems of Knowledge, chapter 1.
Chisholm, R. Theory of Knowledge.
Cornman, J. and Lehrer. K. Philosophical Problems and Arguments, chapter 2.
Russell, B. The Problems of Philosophy.

Section 3. The Belief Condition
Lehrer, K. "Belief and Knowledge." Phlosophical Review (1968).
Radford, C. "Knowledge By Examples." (R&G).

Section 4. The Justification Condition
Gettier, E. "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?" (R&G).
Lehrer, K. "Knowledge, Truth and Evidence." (R&G).
Sosa, E. "The Analysis of Knowledge that p." Analysis (1964).
Unger, P. "An Analysis of Factual Knowledge." (R&G).

Section 5. Knowledge and Coincidence
Cargile, J. "On Near Knowledge." Analysis (1969).
Malcolm, N. "Knowledge and Belief." (R&G).

Section 6. The Conclusive Reasons Approach
Dretske, F. "Conclusive Reasons." (P&S).
Pappas, G. and Swain, M. "Some Conclusive Reasons Against 'Conclusive Reasons'." (P&S).

Section 7. The Causal Theory
Goldman, A. I. "A Causal Theory of Knowing." (R&G), (P&S).
Skyrms, B. "The Explication of 'x knows that p'." (R&G).
Swain. M. "Knowledge, Causality and Justification." (P&S).

Section 8. Defeasibility: A Fourth Condition for Knowledge
Annis, D. "Knowledge and Defeasibility." (P&S).
Lehrer, K. and Paxson, T. "Knowledge: Undefeated Justified True Belief." (P&S).
Lycan, W. and McCall, M. "The Catastrophe of DefeaL" Philosophical Studies (1975).
Swain, M. "Epistemic Defeasibility." (P&S).

Section 9. Evidence Which One Does Not Possess
Harman, G. "Selections from Thought." (P&S).
Lycan, W. "Evidence Which One Does Not Possess." Australasian Journal of Philosophy (1976).

Section 10. Relevant Alternatives
Goldman, A. I. "Discrimination and Perceptual Knowledge." (P&S).

Section 11. Coherence
BonJour, L. "The Coherence Theory of Empirical Knowledge." Philosophical Studies (1976).
Lehrer, K. "Systematic Justification: Selections from Knowledge." (P&S).

Section 12. Reliabilism
Goldman, A. I. "What Is Justified Belief?" In G. Pappas (ed.), Knowledge and Justification.
Kornblith, H. "Beyond Foundationalism and the Coherence Theory." Journal of Philosophy (1980).