Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status

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Course Description: 

The course offers an introduction into some classic problems of epistemology which form the subject of lively discussion also in contemporary philosophy. We shall start with the question of necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge, the Gettier problem and its consequences. Next we look into theories of justification, and discuss the merits and shortcomings of foundationalism, coherentism and reliabilism. Next we will consider various sceptical arguments against the possibility of knowledge, and investigate some responses to the sceptical arguments.  We will close the course with investigating some social aspects of knowledge: testimony and epistemic injustice. The aim of the course is to familiarize students with the central concepts of contemporary epistemological research, to enable them to discern the essential features of arguments in epistemological papers and to assess their soundness and validity. The course will offer a suitable basis for taking an advanced graduate class in epistemology.

Learning Outcomes: 

Students will become familiar with the central concepts of contemporary epistemological research, and with the main positions occupied in epistemological debates. They will develop their ability to discern arguments in philosophical texts, to evaluate these arguments, and to present an argued position in a clear and concise manner.


Conditions for passing the course:

For Grade and Audit:

  • conscientious attendance, reading of the assigned material, (mental) preparation of answers to all the reading questions, participation in discussions;
  • for at least 8 readings, before the class, enter at least one comment in Perusall on the reading

For Grade, in addition to the above:

  • a max. 5 minute presentation of the answer to at least one reading question during the term. The presentation should offer a substantial answer to the reading question, focus on the question (ie should not contain irrelevant material), should be clearly organised and presented, and keep the time.
  • passing the written exam at the end of the term.



  • written exam.

◦          for 2-year philosophy MA students: the written exam grade is given on the basis of the in-class written examination as part of the Theoretical Philosophy Final Examination at the end of the first year. You will draw from a list of previously distributed exam questions.

◦          for others taking the course: there will be a written exam organised. You will draw from a list of previously distributed exam questions.


Grading criteria for the written exam

The usual length of answers is 600-900 words (1.5, 2 pages)

  • In order to earn an “A-“ the written exam paper has to cover most of the relevant material covered in the lectures. It has to show evidence of a thorough understanding of, and familiarity with, the relevant readings. It has to be written clearly and concisely, in competent academic English. One of the most important criteria will be the quality of the arguments. The text must be relevant to the question: it should not contain materials that do not pertain to the issue discussed. Failing to meet these criteria will result in the appropriate reduction of the grade.
  • In order to earn an “A”, all the above are required, plus evidence of independent thinking or independent organization of the material. This means that the paper does not simply reproduce the lecture notes, or copies a sample answer prepared by someone else. An “A” paper presents the material in a way that shows that you have thought through the question yourself (consulting further readings can help this). You can also add your own assessment of the question. The emphasis is not on originality; you don't need to invent something nobody has said before. Rather, the idea is that you make these problems your own, and develop, as best as you can, your own view of them (which can very well agree with the views defended by some others).

Mandatory for first year philosophy MA students on the 2-year MA program; elective for philosophy MA students on the 1-year program. Non-philosophy students with some background in philosophy (not specifically epistemology) are welcome, but are asked to contact the instructor before signing up.

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