Philosophy 132: Epistemology
Where: WLH 2112
When: TuTh 2-3:20
Instructor: Jonathan Cohen
email: joncohen AT aardvark DOT ucsd DOT edu
office phone: (858) 534 6812
Office hours: Tu 10-11:30 and by appointment, in H&SS 8072.
This is a course in recent and contemporary approaches to the theory
We'll be looking at some of the major debates in epistemology,
including those over the structure of knowledge, the proper analysis
of knowledge, justification, and related notions, as well as some
meta-epistemological issues that have arisen in recent discussions of
so-called naturalized epistemology.
The course will not presuppose any exposure to the relevant
literatures, and will be a broad overview of some of the going
accounts and controversies.
There will be two assigned papers for the course, and a take home
There will be no midterm.
In grading I will assign equal weight to each of the two papers and
the take home exam.
In addition, I'll increase your total grade by 1/3 of a letter grade
if you come to office hours twice during the quarter to raise and talk
about specific issues related to the course that interest you.
I'll use class participation as a way of deciding between borderline
Violations of academic integrity will not be tolerated in this
course; violators will receive an F on at least the relevant
assignment and possibly the course, and will be subjected to UCSD's
disciplinary procedures (which could result in penalties including
permanent explusion from the university).
You are responsible for knowing and adhering to the UCSD
Policy on Integrity in all respects.
In particular, you may not cause or allow your work for this course to
resemble that of any other person, and all use of the ideas or words
of anyone other than a paper's author must be acknowledged properly.
I don't care a huge amount about specific citation formats; I do care
a huge amount that sources are acknowledged.
As far as collaboration goes, it's fine (it's encouraged) to talk
about the philosophical issues with other students or anyone
else you like; but when it is time to write up an essay you should do
so entirely by yourself.
If you have any questions about the Policy on Integrity or how to
follow it (e.g., if you are unsure how to cite ideas from other
sources) please ask me!
I am very happy to help prevent real or apparent violations of
academic integrity before they occur, and very unhappy to discover
that they have occured.
(As you may have noticed, I feel very strongly about this issue.)
To ensure standards of academic integrity are met, I'll
ask you, as a condition on taking this course, to run all of your
assigned work for the course through Turnitin.com,
which checks your paper for textual similarity to all of the other
papers in its databases.
(Your submitted papers will also be included as source documents in
the Turnitin.com reference database, solely for the purpose of
detecting plagiarism, going forward.)
To get started with the system, please see the instructions at
You'll need the class name (Epistemology, Winter 2015), class ID
(9110947), and enrollment password (knowledge).
We won't be using a textbook/anthology for the course.
Instead, all readings will be made available by electronic
reserve at Geisel Library.
Note that you will need a password (jc132) to access this material.
This schedule is tentative in both its content and its timing; I reserve
the right to add, subtract, or reschedule items as the course
(In particular, I am skeptical that we'll have time for segment 6 at
all; but we can try!)
Segment 1: Skepticism
- René Descartes, Meditations I-II
- G. E. Moore, "Proof of an External World"
- G. E. Moore, "Certainty"
- Peter Unger, "An Argument for Skepticism"
Segment 2: The Analysis of Knowledge
Segment 3: Foundations and Coherence
- Roderick Chisholm, "The Myth of the Given"
- Wilfrid Sellars, "Does Empirical Knowledge Have a Foundation?"
- Donald Davidson, "A Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge"
- Susan Haack, "A Foundherentist Theory of Empirical Justification"
- Ernest Sosa, "The Raft and the Pyramid" (skip appendix)
Segment 4: Reliabilism and Externalism
Segment 5: Epistemological Naturalism
Segment 6: Contextualism
- Keith DeRose, "Solving the Skeptical Problem"
- David Lewis, "Elusive Knowledge"
- Stephen Schiffer, "Contextualist Solutions to Skepticism"