Phil 201 Epistemology

Fall Semester 2012 | Day | Burnaby


INSTRUCTOR: David Anderson, david.anderson at


The word "know" is one of the most used words in the English language. This fact alone gives us reason to pay close attention to the concept of knowledge; to think clearly and carefully about what it is to know something rather than merely to believe it.  Fortunately, we are aided in this task by the long philosophical tradition of epistemology.  In this introductory course to the discipline, we will begin by examining the various sources of knowledge.  We will then consider analyses of the concepts of knowledge and justification, and attempt to develop responses to some surprisingly powerful arguments for the conclusion that we don't in fact know anything after all.  Along the way, we will find it useful to discuss disembodied brains, chicken sexers, clairvoyants, cleverly painted mules, and brain lesions that cause you to believe that you have a brain lesion.


  • Audi, Robert. 2010. Epistemology: a contemporary introduction to the theory of knowledge, 3rd ed. Routledge, ISBN 041587923X
  • Additional material will be circulated via email/WebCT


  • Vaughn, Lewis and J.S. McIntosh. 2009. Writing Philosophy: a guide for Canadian students. OUP, ISBN 0195430549


  • Participation - 10%
  • First midterm - 20%
  • Second midterm - 20%
  • Third midterm - 20%
  • Final Paper - 30%

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

NOTE: Students will be required to submit written work to, for plagiarism-checking and also, possibly, for anonymous peer review or as the basis for class discussion.