PHIL 201 Epistemology

Fall Semester | 2011| Day





  • Descartes, Meditations of First Philosophy (Hackett)
  • Steup, An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology
  • Sosa et. al. Epistemology: An Anthology
  • Other pieces will be available online, either on JSTOR or on reserve



This course is an introduction to epistemology: the theory of knowledge. We shall begin - broadly focused - with one of the great problems in epistemology: the problem of skepticism about the external world. Has it occurred to you that everything you believe about the world around you is false? Is such a belief even possible to hold? Upon an initial examination of this question, we shall then narrow our focus. What exactly is knowledge? Does it require justification? What is that? Is knowledge possible independent of any experience of the external world? What is the relationship between various items of knowledge? We shall examine answers to these questions with the aim of developing a more sophisticated understanding of skepticism and the potential responses to it. Toward the end of the course, we shall consider whether memory and testimony are sources of knowledge, and whether we can have knowledge about future events and God.



  • Six one-page response papers - 30%
  • A take-home midterm exam - 30%
  • A final exam - 40%


NOTE: Prerequisites: one of PHIL 100, 150 or 151, or COGS 100. Students who have taken PHIL 301 may not take this course for further credit.