Advanced Epistemology

Academic Year: 
ECTS Credits: 
Course Code: 
PHIL 5070
Course Description: 

This is an advanced course in epistemology, and it presupposes that students took the  Epistemology MA course at CEU, or a similar survey course elsewhere. In case of doubt, please contact the instructor and describe your background in epistemology.

The course surveys some issues that have been in the focus of interest in contemporary discussions in epistemology. The  topics include the evaluation of ‟knowledge-first” epistemology; the claim that evidence is knowledge; the relationship between knowledge and practical matters; knowledge and the goal of inquiry; justified belief and responsible belief; knowledge based on merely statistical evidence; and the epistemic aspects of the cognitive penetrability debate. We will critically assess the approach to epistemology proposed by a Bayesian framework and experimental philosophy. Through the readings and the discussion, students will engage with contemporary research in epistemology at an advanced level that provides a space for independent contributions.

The course will be taught in the first 8 weeks of the term, 3 times a week. The last class is 9 November.

A number of readings are from this volume: Matthias, Steup ; John, Turri & Ernest, Sosa (eds.) (2014). Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Wiley-Blackwell.


List of topics:

1. Analysis of knowledge


  • Rippon, Simon: ‟Knowledge, virtue and safety”


2. Knowledge first


  • Recommended: watch this 10 min video by Jennifer Nagel introducing Knowledge First Epistemology
  • Williamson, Timothy:  ‟Knowledge First” in Steup, Turri, Sosa 2014 (especially. Pp 1-6)
  • Dougherty, Trent and Patrick Rysiew ‟What Is Knowledge-first Epistemology?”   in Steup, Turri, Sosa 2014, 10-16
  • Dougherty, Trent and Patrick Rysiew: ‟Experience First”  In Steup, Turri, Sosa 2014, 17-21


3. Is Evidence Knowledge?


  • Williamson, Timothy (1997). Knowledge as evidence. Mind 106 (424):1-25.
  • Comesaña, Juan & Kantin, Holly (2010). Is Evidence Knowledge? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (2):447-454.


4. Knowledge based on statistical evidence


  • Smith, M. (forthcoming). When Does Evidence Suffice for Conviction?. Mind
  • Thomson, Judith Jarvis (1986). “Liability and Individualized Evidence.” Law and Contemporary Problems 49: 199-219.


5. Knowledge and Practical Matters


  • Jeremy Fantl and Matt McGrath (2014): Practical Matters Affect Whether You Know. In Steup, Turri, Sosa 2014: 84-94
  • Baron Reed (2014): Practical Matters Do Not Affect Whether You Know. In Steup, Turri, Sosa 2014: 95-106


6. Knowledge and Truth


  • Zagzebski, Linda (2003). The Search for the Source of Epistemic Good. Metaphilosophy 34 (1-2):12-28.
  • Elgin, Catherine Z. (2004). True enough. Philosophical Issues 14 (1):113–131.


7. Cognitive penetration


  • Siegel, Susanna (2012). Cognitive Penetrability and Perceptual Justification. Noûs 46 (2).
  • Lyons, Jack (2011). Circularity, reliability, and the cognitive penetrability of perception. Philosophical Issues 21 (1):289-311.


8. Application: knowledge and politics


  • Benson, Jonathan (forthcoming). Deliberative democracy and the problem of tacit knowledge. Politics, Philosophy and Economics.


9. Bayesian epistemology


  • Sober, Elliot “An  introduction to Bayesian Epistemology”
  • Horgan, Terry (2017). Troubles for Bayesian Formal Epistemology. Res Philosophica 94 (2):233-255.


10. ‟Experimental philosophy”: Critique of Traditional Analytic Epistemology


  • Nichols, S., Stich, S., & Weinberg, J. M. (2012). Meta-Skepticism: Meditations in Ethno-Epistemology. In Collected Papers, Volume 2: Knowledge, Rationality, and Morality, 1978-2010  Oxford University Press.
  • Deutsch, Max (2010). Intuitions, counter-examples, and experimental philosophy. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (3):447-460.


 11. ‟Knowledge” as a psychological phenomenon


  • Nagel, Jennifer (2013). Knowledge as a Mental State. Oxford Studies in Epistemology 4. PP 1-8
  • Butterfill, Stephen A. (2013). 11. What Does Knowledge Explain? Commentary on Jennifer Nagel,'Knowledge as a Mental State'. Oxford Studies in Epistemology 4:309.
Learning Outcomes: 

Students will become familiar with some of the most recent developments in contemporary epistemological research. Through the discussion and evaluation of readings, they will further develop their analytic, reading and critical skills. Through critical reflection on arguments and positions, they will develop their ability to formulate their own positions, and will take a step towards offering original contributions to philosophical debates. Students who are interested in in depth-engagement with epistemology or related fields for their thesis work or further graduate studies will acquire essential background to support their research.


Conditions for passing the course:

  • conscientious attendance, reading of the assigned material, participation in discussions;
  • a 10 minute presentation introducing a reading or readings. The presentation can be developed into a term paper.
  • A 4-5000 word term paper, to be submitted by the end of the term, on a suitable topic related to the course. Please consult the instructor on your topic.


  • 20% presentation
  • 80% term paper
  • Informed and active participation in the seminar discussions will be taken into account in borderline cases to improve the grade.
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