Philosophy 3340 - Epistemology

Section 001                                                                                                                          Professor Michael Tooley
MWF 1:00-1:50                                                                                                                   Office Hours:   MWF 12:00-12:50
Hellems 241                                                                                                                         Hellems, Room 277


        The texts that we will be using in this course are as follows:

Michael Huemer (ed.), Epistemology  - Contemporary Readings (London and New York: Routledge, 2002.)

Michael Huemer, Skepticism and the Veil of Perception (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001)

        Two useful sources of (generally) good overview articles for many of the central topics in this course are the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Paul Edwards (8 volumes, plus a 1996 Supplement, edited by Donald M. Borchert; call number: B41 .E5), and the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward Craig (10 volumes; call number: B51 .R68).  A copy of the former is available in the Reference room of Norlin Library.  Copies of the latter are stored offsite.)

        Another useful source, though it is still in a very incomplete state, as many of the articles have not yet been written, is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, found online at

Required Work

        The required work for the course will consist of the following:

(1)  Two essays, of about 1200-1500 words in length.  Each essay will count for one-third of your final grade.  The due dates for the essays are as follows:

        First Essay:                    Monday, March 15

        Second Essay:               Friday, April 23
        Detailed instructions for the essays, together with a list of possible topics, can be found online at

(2)  A two and one-half hour, closed-book, essay-style, final examination.  This will also count for one-third of your final grade.  The final examination will be on Wednesday, May 5, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., in Hellems 241.

Class Web Site

        Course materials can be found online at the following location:
Format of the Course

        Classes will take the form of lecture/discussion.  My goal will be to explain and to motivate the central concepts and arguments, and to encourage class discussion of those ideas and arguments.

        Students should read the relevant articles before each class, in order to be able to participate fully in the class discussions.  Such participation will be very helpful in enabling you to master the material.

Topics and Readings

        In the case of some of the topics, the readings are divided into "core readings" and "optional readings".  The core readings will more than suffice, in the case of every topic, to give you a very good grasp of the basic issues.  If, however, you have a good background in philosophy, or if you find the core readings insufficiently challenging, you may well want to go on to do some of the optional readings.  The latter are generally, though not always, somewhat more complicated and difficult, and also, in some cases, rather on the long side.

I.  Introduction: Epistemology and Philosophy

II.  The Problem of Analyzing the Concept of Knowledge

    Core Readings

Michael Huemer, Introduction to Chapter 8, s,Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 435-39.

A. J. Ayer, "Knowing as Having the Right to be Sure," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 440-3.

Edmund L. Gettier, "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?" Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 444-6.

Michael Clark, "Knowledge and Grounds: A Comment on Mr. Gettier's Paper," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 447-9.

    Optional Readings

Alvin Goldman, "A Causal Theory of Knowing," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 450-63.

Keith Lehrer and Thomas Paxson, "Knowledge: Undefeated Justified True Belief," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 464-74.

Robert Nozick, "Knowledge," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 475-490.

Keith DeRose, "Contextualism and Knowledge Attributions," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 491-505.

III.  Skepticism

    Core Readings

Michael Huemer, Introduction to Chapter 9, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 507-12.

René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 513-23.

G. E. Moore, "Proof of an External World," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 602-5.

G. E. Moore, "Hume's Theory Examined," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 606-10.

Michael Huemer, “The Lure of Radical Skepticism”, chapter II of Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, pp. 7-25.

Michael Huemer, “Easy Answers to Skepticism”, chapter III of Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, pp. 27-49.

Optional Readings

Hilary Putnam, "Brains in a Vat," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 524-38.

Peter Klein, "Skepticism and Closure: Why the Evil Genius Argument Fails," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 552-74.

Michael Huemer, “Direct Realism and the Brain-in-a-Vat Argument,” Epistemology  - Contemporary Readings, pp. 575-89.

IV.  The Justification of Induction

    Core Readings

Michael Huemer, Introduction to Chapter 6, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 293-7.

David Hume, An excerpt from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 298-310.

Paul Edwards, "Russell's Doubts about Induction," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 311-19.

Nelson Goodman, "The New Riddle of Induction," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 320-32.

John Foster, "Induction, Explanation, and Natural Necessity," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 333-43.

    Optional Readings

Colin Howson and Peter Urbach, An excerpt from Scientific Reasoning: The Bayesian Approach," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 344-51.

David Stove, "Another Attempt to Prove that Induction is Justified: The Law of Large Numbers," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 352-68.

V.  Theories of Justification:  Foundationalism and Coherentism

Michael Huemer, Introduction to Chapter 7, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 369-71.

Sextus Empiricus, "The Five Modes," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 372-4.

I. T. Oakley, "An Argument for Scepticism Concerning Justified Beliefs," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 375-86.

Laurence Bonjour, An excerpt from The Structure of Empirical Knowledge, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 387-401.

William Alston, "Has Foundationalism Been Refuted?" Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 402-16.

Susan Haack, "A Foundherentist Theory of Empirical Justification," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 417-31.

VI.  Perceptual Knowledge of the External World

        Core Readings

Michael Huemer, Introduction to Chapter 1, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 27-31.

Michael Huemer, “Introduction: The Problem of Perceptual Knowledge”, chapter I of Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, pp. 1-5.

John Locke, An excerpt from Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 32-6.

George Berkeley, An excerpt from Of the Principles of Human Knowledge, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 37-45.

David Hume, "Of the Academic or Skeptical Philosophy," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 46-50.

Thomas Reid, An excerpt from Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 51-63.

Bertrand Russell, An excerpt from The Problems of Philosophy, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 64-73.

J. L. Austin, An excerpt from Sense and Sensibilia, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 74-84.

    Optional Reading on Perception

H. P. Grice, "The Causal Theory of Perception," in Perceiving, Sensing, and Knowing, edited by Robert J. Swartz, (Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1965), pp. 438-72.

VII.  Michael Huemer on Direct Realism Versus Indirect Realism

Michael Huemer, “A Version of Direct Realism”, chapter IV of Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, pp. 51-92.

Michael Huemer, “A Version of Foundationalism”, chapter V of Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, pp. 93-117.

Michael Huemer, “Objections to Direct Realism”, chapter VI of Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, pp. 119-147.

Michael Huemer, “An Objection to Indirect Realism:  The Problem of Spatial Properties”, chapter VII of Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, pp. 149-174.

Michael Huemer, “The Direct Realist’s Answer to Skepticism”, chapter VIII of Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, pp. 175-196.

VIII.  Knowledge of the Past

Michael Huemer, Introduction to Chapter 2, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 85-7.

Sydney Shoemaker, "Memory", Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Vol. 5, pp. 265-74.

Bertrand Russell, "Memory," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 88-90.

Norman Malcolm, "A Definition of Factual Memory," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 91-103.

John Pollock and Joseph Cruz, "Reasoning and Memory," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 104-112.

Michel Huemer, "The Problem of Memory Knowledge," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 113-23.

IX.  A Priori Knowledge

    Core Readings

Michael Huemer, Introduction to Chapter 3, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 125-30.

Plato, An excerpt from Meno, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 131-41.

Immanuel Kant, An excerpt from The Critique of Pure Reason, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 142-51.

Bertrand Russell, An excerpt from The Problems of Philosophy, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 152-65.

A. J. Ayer, "The Elimination of Metaphysics," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 166-75.

W. V. Quine, "Two Dogmas of Empiricism," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 176-93.

    Optional Readings

Rudolf Carnap, An excerpt from Philosophical Foundations of Physics, Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 194-207.

Laurence BonJour, "Appendix: Non-Euclidean Geometry and Relativity," Epistemology - Contemporary Readings, pp. 208-15.

Statements Concerning Various Matters

The University currently recommends the inclusion in all syllabi of statements dealing with the following matters:

(1) Students with Disabilities

        If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to me a letter from Disability Services in a timely manner so that your needs may be addressed.  Disability Services determines accommodations based on documented disabilities.  Contact: 303-492-8671, Willard 322, and

(2) Religious Observances Policy Statement

        Campus policy regarding religious observances requires that faculty make every effort to deal reasonably and fairly with all students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments or required attendance.  In this class, students who are absent from a class due to a religious observance should talk to me about the material that I covered in that class.  If a religious observance conflicts with the date of the final examination, please inform me of this in writing as early as possible, so that alternative arrangements can be made.

(3) Classroom Behavior Policy Statement

        Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. Those who fail to adhere to such behavioral standards may be subject to discipline. Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender, gender variance, and nationalities.  Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student's legal name. I will gladly honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this preference early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my records.  See polices at and at

(4) Statement concerning Sexual Harassment and Amorous Relationships

        The University of Colorado at Boulder policy on Discrimination and Harassment, the University of Colorado policy on Sexual Harassment and the University of Colorado policy on Amorous Relationships apply to all students, staff and faculty.  Any student, staff or faculty member who believes s/he has been the subject of discrimination or harassment based upon race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status should contact the Office of Discrimination and Harassment (ODH) at 303-492-2127 or the Office of Judicial Affairs at 303-492-5550.  Information about the ODH, the above referenced policies and the campus resources available to assist individuals regarding discrimination or harassment can be obtained at

(5) Statement concerning the Boulder Campus Honor Code
All students of the University of Colorado at Boulder are responsible for knowing and adhering to the academic integrity policy of this institution. Violations of this policy may include: cheating, plagiarism, aid of academic dishonesty, fabrication, lying, bribery, and threatening behavior.  All incidents of academic misconduct shall be reported to the Honor Code Council (; 303-725-2273). Students who are found to be in violation of the academic integrity policy will be subject to both academic sanctions from the faculty member and non-academic sanctions (including but not limited to university probation, suspension, or expulsion). Other information on the Honor Code can be found at  and at .