Philosophy | Theory of Knowledge
P562 | 3297 | Leite


Most of what we know we have learned from other people. Second-hand
knowledge, or "knowledge by testimony" as it's often called, has been
the subject of intense epistemological scrutiny over the past decade
or so.  The subject provides a way into central issues in
contemporary epistemology, but it also forces us to consider issues
at the intersection of epistemology, philosophy of language, and
moral psychology.  We will start off by looking at straightforwardly
epistemological issues pertaining to the way in which we get
knowledge from each other.  For instance, do we have some a priori
entitlement to believe what other people say?  Or does our
justification for believing other people always involve empirical
factors?  Can a reliabilist theory of knowledge adequately account
for second-hand knowledge?  We will then move on to issues relating
to the speech act of assertion, the nature of the interpersonal
relationships involved in the transmission of knowledge from one
person to another, the role of trust in those relationships, and the
relation between these interpersonal relationships and the nature of
epistemic justification.  My guiding thought, which I want to
explore, is that you can't really understand knowledge or epistemic
justification without seeing them in terms  of this social setting in
which we depend upon each other for information.
The course will be conducted in a seminar format with a strong
emphasis upon careful discussion and group exploration of issues.
Readings will include C. A. J. Coady's book, Testimony, as well as
papers by (among others) Tyler Burge, John McDowell, J. L. Austin,
Elizabeth Fricker, Elizabeth Anscombe, Robert Brandom, Timothy
Williamson, and Annette Baier.
Each student will be expected to lead a class session and to
write a substantial term paper.