Ann Michelle Baker
Systematic study of some of the main problems of the theory of knowledge, such as: the definition of "knowledge"; a priori knowledge; perception and knowledge of the external world; and whether knowledge has or requires a foundation. Emphasis varies from quarter to quarter.
According to the standard historical picture, Descartes brought epistemological questions to the forefront of philosophical inquiry. If we take the views of Descartes to determine the core issues in epistemology, then our epistemological efforts will be spent creating a very specific kind of theory to answer the skeptic: an internalist, foundationalist theory of knowledge (where knowledge is construed as justified true belief). The first three weeks of this course will be spent studying just such a view. Some have thought, however, that Descartes set us an impossible (or unreasonable, or confused, or lame) task, and thus various alternative conceptions of the proper epistemological task have been developed. During the second three weeks, we will survey some of these alternatives. The last three week period will be spent studying one of these alternatives in greater depth. At least two previous philosophy courses recommended, especially 322 and/or 350. No freshmen. “W” course. Meets I&S requirement.
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