Topics in epistemology

Basic Information

Course 2015/2016
Manuel García-Carpintero
Department of Philosophy
Universitat de Barcelona
Module 7. Issues in Contemporary Theoretical and Practical Philosophy


Tue. 9:30-12
Room 4047, Seminari del Departament de Lògica, Facultat de Filosofia, Universitat de Barcelona.


This course will offer a survey of some recent debates in contemporary epistemology, including: whether knowledge is analyzable, whether knowledge is contextual, whether skepticism can be refuted, whether there is a priori knowledge, whether there is immediate justification, whether justification is internal or external, and whether truth is the primary epistemic goal.


There will be 12 sessions, and each one will focus on a different debate of current interest in contemporary epistemology. Students are expected to read the assigned readings in advance and prepare questions and comments for discussion. After the first introductory session, each session will be run as a discussion-intensive seminar, where all students are expected to ask questions and participate in the discussion. Students are also expected to volunteer to do at least one presentation during the term. These presentations will be 15-20 minutes long, and the student is supposed to summarize and explain one central argument from the assigned readings. The plan is to have 1 or 2 presentations at the beginning of each session to get discussion started. Students can choose the date and topic of their presentations during the first, introductory session on 23/02/2016 (see tentative list of topics below). Suggestions by email before that date are also welcome.

List of topics:

Week 0 (February 23)


Week 1 (March 1)

Ch. 1: “Should Knowledge Come First?”, by Tim Williamson, Trent Dougherty and Patrick Rysiew.

Week 2 (March 8)

Ch. 2: “Is Knowledge Closed Under Known Entailment?”, by Fred Dretske and John Hawthorne.

Week 3 (March 15)

Ch. 3: “Is Knowledge Contextual?”, by Earl Conee and Stewart Cohen.

Week 4 (March 22)

Ch. 4: “Do Practical Matters Affect Whether You Know?”, by Jeremy Fantl, Matthew McGrath, and Baron Reed.

Week 5 (March 29)

Ch. 5: “Can Skepticism Be Refuted?”, by Jonathan Vogel and Richard Fumerton.

Week 6 (April 5)

Ch. 6: “Are Intellectually Virtuous Motives Essential to Knowledge?”, by Jason Baehr and Linda  Zagzebski.

Week 7 (April 12)

Ch. 7: “Can Knowledge Be Lucky?”, by Duncan Pritchard and Stephen Hetherington.

Week 8 (April 19)

Ch. 8: “Is There A Priori Knowledge?”, by Laurence BonJour and Michael Devitt.

Week 9 (April 26)

Ch. 9: “Is There Immediate Justification?”, by James Pryor and Juan Comesaña.

Week 10 (May 3)

Ch. 10: “Can Belief Be Justified Through Coherence Alone?”, by Catherine Elgin and James Van Cleve.

Week 11 (May 10)

Ch. 13: “Is Justification Internal?”, by John Greco and Richard Feldman.

Week 12 (May 17)


Ch. 14: “Is Truth the Primary Epistemic Goal?”, by Jonathan Kvanvig and Marian David.


The final grade for the course will be obtained on the basis of a final research paper (3000 words) (60%), class participation (20%), and a class presentation (20%).


Intended Learning Outcomes: 


CB6 – Students should be able to critically understand central texts in the philosophy of mind in a way that puts them in a position to develop and apply original ideas. 


CB9 - Students should be able to communicate their knowledge and their arguments to specialized audiences in a clear and articulate way.


CG1 - Students should critically assess and evaluate arguments and develop sound arguments of their own; and they should also be able to detect logical fallacies. 


CG2. Students should be able to design, create, develop and undertake new and innovative projects in their area of ​​expertise. 


CG3. Students should be able to engage both in general and specific discussions in the domain of the philosophy of the cognitive sciences. They should be able to conduct a philosophical discussion (orally and in written form), by putting forward, for example, general arguments or specific examples, in support of one’s position.


CG4. Students should be able to work both independently and in a team, in an international environment.


CG5 - Students should be able to identify methodological errors, rhetorical, conventional and uncritical assumptions, vagueness and superficiality.


CE1 - Students should be able to critically engage with the concepts and methods of contemporary philosophy of mind.


CE2. Students should be able to identify the core arguments and theories of contemporary philosophy of the cognitive sciences.


CE4 - Students should be able to assess the writings of leading contemporary philosophers in the field of philosophy and the cognitive sciences.



CG5. Students should be able to identify methodological errors, rhetorical, conventional and uncritical assumptions, vagueness and superficiality.


CE7 - Students should be able to critically use specialized terminology in the field of philosophy of philosophy of mind.


There will be a required textbook for the course: Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, 2nd edition, edited by Matthias Steup, John Turri and Ernest Sosa (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014). All the assigned readings are included in the textbook, so students are expected to purchase their own copy. (Both paperback and kindle editions are available on