Topics in epistemology

Basic Information

Course 2017/2018
Víctor Verdejo
Department of Philosophy
Universitat de Barcelona
Module 7. Issues in Contemporary Theoretical and Practical Philosophy


Tuesdays, 11:00-14:00
UB, Philosophy Faculty, room 409


The aim of this course is to provide an introduction to some of the most important issues and debates of contemporary discussion in epistemology. Especial emphasis will be placed on skills and knowledge that allow the development and defence of the student’s own views on the topics covered.

The target topics to be studied and discussed include: 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, explain and put forward their own views about one central argument from the assigned readings. The plan is to have 1 or 2 presentations at the beginning of each session to get the discussion started. Students can choose the date and topic of their presentations during the first, introductory session.


The final grade for the course will be obtained on the basis of a final research paper (3000 words) (60%), class participation (15%), and a class presentation (25%).


Basic Competences:

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

CB9: Students should be able to communicate effectively their arguments and conclusions to a specialized audience in a clear and rigorous manner.

CB10: Students should be able to acquire learning skills that allow them to pursue their studies in an autonomous manner.


General Competences:

CG1: Students should be able to analyze, assess and construct valid arguments, and to identify formal and informal fallacies.

CG2: Students should be able to design, create and develop original research projects in their chosen areas of study in epistemology.

CG4: Students should be able to work both autonomously and as part of a team, in order to provide arguments for and against different positions in epistemology, and provide examples.


Specific Competences:

CE1: Students should be able to critically engage with the concepts and methods of contemporary epistemology.

CE2. Students should be able to identify the core arguments and theories of contemporary epistemology.

CE4. Students should be able to assess the writings of leading contemporary philosophers in the field of epistemology.

CE5. Students should be able to identify and critically engage with the current state of a particular philosophical debate, and form a reasoned view, even if provisional, about it.

CE7. Students should be able to critically use specialized terminology in the field of epistemology.


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. This material will eventually be supplemented with complementary references a sample of which you can find below.

Complementary references

  • Bealer, G. ‘A Priori Knowledge and the Scope of Philosophy’, Philosophical Studies, 81 (1996). Boghossian, P., Peacocke, C., eds., New Essays on the A Priori, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000.
  • BonJour, L. In Defense of Pure Reason, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Casullo, A. A Priori Justification, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Davies, M., and Humberstone, L. ‘Two notions of necessity’, Philosophical Studies 38
  • Greco, J., Sosa, E., The Blackwell Guide to Epistemology, Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.
  • Kripke, S., Naming and Necessity, Oxford: Blackwell, 1980.
  • Moser, P., ed., A Priori Knowledge, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.
  • Pryor, J. “The Skeptic and the Dogmatist”, Noûs 34, 2000.
  • Quesada, D. (coord.) Cuestiones de teoría del conocimiento, 2009.
  • Rey, G. ‘A Naturalistic A Priori’, Philosophical Studies 92 (1998).
  • Williamson, T., The Philosophy of Philosophy, Oxford: Blackwell, 2007.