Teaching the Epistemology Course

Spring 2016 I will be teaching Philosophy 100B, “Theory of Knowledge.” I’m currently developing the course and look forward to teaching epistemology. The general course description and the learning outcomes are listed below.

Knowledge is an important feature of our lives. What we know or fail to know can have a profound impact on what we think and how we act. In this course we step back from the specific contents of our knowledge and look at knowledge itself. In doing so, we investigate fundamental issues in the study of knowledge and justified belief (i.e. epistemology). We look at the nature of knowledge, why knowledge is worth having, whether having knowledge is possible, what it takes to be justified in believing something, and whether there is a normative dimension to knowledge. We analyze and evaluate answers to the following questions:

  • What is knowledge?
  • What is the value of knowledge?
  • What can we know?
  • What is it to be justified in believing something?
  • What is the nature of the epistemic ‘ought’?

After completing this course you should be able to:

  1. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of different analyses of knowledge.
  2. Appraise whether knowledge is more valuable than true belief.
  3. Comprehend why skepticism is a threat to knowledge of the external world.
  4. Assess arguments for and against theories of justified belief.
  5. Defend a view on whether it is wrong to believe something on insufficient evidence.
  6. Actively read and critique philosophical texts.
  7. Formulate and articulate philosophical arguments, develop your own view on the reasonableness of such arguments, examine objections to your perspective, and devise responses to such objections.

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