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PHIL240 Epistemology: The Theory of Knowledge

What is knowledge? Can we know anything? How could we know what we think we know? When is a belief justified? These are the questions addressed in this paper.

Paper title Epistemology: The Theory of Knowledge
Paper code PHIL240
Subject Philosophy
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2021, expected to be offered in 2022 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $913.95
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,073.40

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One PHIL paper or 72 points
PHIL 102, PHIL 340
Schedule C
Arts and Music

Teaching staff

Dr Heather Dyke

Paper Structure

In the first part of the course we examine different theories of knowledge, including the Justified True Belief theory, Reliabilism, Virtue Epistemology, Internalism and Externalism, as well as related epistemic concepts including justification, rationality, and the a priori/a posteriori distinction. We then look at different sources of knowledge including perception, testimony, memory and inference, and consider whether beliefs derived from them are justified. In the third part we look at different kinds of knowledge, including scientific, religious and moral knowledge. Lastly, we look at varieties of scepticism.

Teaching Arrangements
Standard lecture format

Duncan Pritchard, What Is This Thing Called Knowledge, 4th Edition, Routledge, 2018.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary Perspective, Critical Thinking, Ethics, Communication Skills.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this paper students will be able to:

  1. Outline the key problems of epistemology (e.g. scepticism, the nature of knowledge, the Gettier problem);
  2. Describe the main approaches to epistemology (e.g. internalism, externalism);
  3. Describe the major theories in epistemology (e.g. foundationalism, coherentism);
  4. Understand recent developments in the field (e.g.; virtue epistemology, the epistemology of testimony); and
  5. Apply what they have learned to some problems in everyday life (e.g. reliance on expert testimony).

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Not offered in 2021, expected to be offered in 2022

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system