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Phil. 717: Recent Work and Research in Epistemology, Spring 2017

Philosophy 717: Recent Work and Research in Epistemology
Spring 2017
Prof. Keith DeRose
Tuesdays 1:30-3:20, LC 207


Catalogue description: A study of some prominent issues in current epistemology, focusing on literature relevant to research interests of students and the instructor. Topics may include skepticism, internalist vs. externalist accounts of knowledge and of justification, the structure of knowledge and of justification (foundationalism, coherentism), contextualism in epistemology, relevant alternative accounts of knowledge, and the epistemology of lotteries. Students not in the Philosophy graduate program are welcome, but should contact the instructor for permission and further information before enrolling.


This course is primarily designed for student who have ongoing writing projects in epistemology, or who are interested in developing such a project, perhaps as a dissertation. It could also serve the needs of a student who simply wants to take a very in-depth look at a particular topic in epistemology.

Students taking the course, plus those auditors who wish to also do so, will sign up to take one of the weekly meetings of the seminar. The week before the meeting they have signed up for, students will give the rest of the seminar about 30 pages of reading to do, which we can then discuss at the seminar meeting. Students with ongoing writing projects going will usually distribute their own writing that they are seeking feedback on – though such students may instead have us read some of their own writing together with a paper (or portion of a paper, or portion of a book) from the literature on the topic they are working on, if they judge that such a mix of reading will result in their receiving the most useful feedback. Students who have not yet begun their own writing on a topic will instead have us all read a paper (or portion of a paper, or portion of a book) or two from the literature on the topic they are looking into that they most wish to discuss.

At the first meeting of the seminar (on 9/4), the instructor will provide the readings for the next meeting. At the second meeting (9/14), we will discuss that material, and start assigning students to future meetings.

Course Requirements: Auditors: Auditors should do the readings for each meeting, and attend in participate in each week’s discussion.

Those taking the course: Those taking the course should:

  • do the readings for each meeting, and attend in participate in each week’s discussion
  • Choose the reading for one meeting of the seminar, and lead the discussion of that meeting and
  • Produce written work, in one of these two formats (other formats could be proposed to the instructor by students for approval, but should involve about the same amount of material as the below):
    • A paper (or dissertation chapter, or part of a chapter) of about 14-20 pages or
    • An 8-15 page topic description, describing a current topic in epistemology, and the state of the literature on that topic, complete with a list of the important works on that topic; plus a 7-10 page paper on that topic.

The results hoped for is that each student who takes the course will have the chance to take a very in-depth look at a topic of great interest to them; develop their own work on that topic; and get a quick look at other topics through the work of their classmates.


Default for week 2 (1/24): Chapter 2 (“Moorean Methodology: Was the Skeptic Doomed to Inevitable Defeat?”) and Appendix B (“Attempts to Ask Non-Philosophers about AI’s First Premise”) of upcoming book, both available toward the top of this page:

Kelly, Thomas 2005. ‘Moorean Facts and Belief Revision, Or Can the Skeptic Win?’, Philosophical Perspectives 19: 179-209.


Jan. 24: Chapter 2, Appendix B

Jan. 31: Chapter 4

Feb. 7: Chapter 7, “How Do We Know That We’re Not Brains in Vats?”

Feb. 14: Arthur: Kelly “Epistemic Rationality as Instrumental Rationality: A Critique”: pdf.
Foley, Working without a Net, selected sections: 1.3, 3.1, 3.4.

Feb. 21: Hugo: Feldman, “The Ethics of Belief,” Parts I (pp. 667-677) and III (pp. 691-694): JSTOR link . (Perhaps more reading to come)
Shah and Velleman, “Doxastic Deliberation”: JSOR link ; pdf here .

Feb. 28: Mario: Sosa, “Dreams and Philosophy: JSTOR link; Ichikawa, “Scepticism and the Imagination Model of Dreaming”: JSTOR link; Windt, Dreaming, sects. 9.1, 9.2, 9.6 (all in Ch. 9, of course): link.

March 7: Todd: Yourgrau, “Knowledge and Relevant Alternatives”: pdf here; Todd (Patrick Todd, that is), “Geachianism”:  pdf here.

My reply to Yourgrau is at pp. 924-928 of this paper: pdf here .

Chapter 6 of my old book discusses such issues at much greater length; Dretske on contextualism and my answer to him (that I mentioned in seminar) is at pp. 222-225: pdf here.

March 28: Arthur: Shah, “A New Argument for Evidentialism”: pdf here; McHugh, “What Do We Aim at When We Believe?”: pdf here.

April 4: Jessie: Dunn, “Reliability for degrees of belief”
Tang, “Reliability Theories of Justified Credence”

April 11: Neta, “Your Evidence is the Set of Facts that Are Manifest to You”
Williamson, sect. 9.5 (pp. 194-200) of KNOWLEDGE AND ITS LIMITS (or sect. V (pp. 725-730) of “Knowledge as Evidence,” MIND, 1997)

April 18:

April 25:


Vogel paper: pdf  .

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