PHI 3300 (U01) Epistemology  Fall 2013 Dr. Hauptli
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 11:00-11:50 PC 438
Copyright © 2013 Bruce W. Hauptli
The web-site has a copy of the syllabus, extensive lecture supplements for each of the readings and lectures, and other information relevant to the course. It will be updated throughout the semester. Students are encouraged to provide me with suggestions and comments about the content, links and sources they have found helpful which I can post for other students, and I am grateful for help in correcting the inevitable typos and grammatical errors!
Expectations for Students:
I expect that students will carefully and critically read and master the assigned material—it will usually take more than a single reading to master the material, and I strongly recommend that students endeavor to complete a single reading prior to the lecture on the reading assignment. Subsequent to the lecture(s) on the material, it is usually advisable for students to re-read the material. Reading, especially in philosophy, should be an active and interactive endeavor. Students should not simply race through the material, they should endeavor to critically understand and interact with it.
I also expect (and require) that students attend the lectures (see below). The purpose of the lectures is two-fold: to facilitate the students' mastery of the material, and to facilitate their critical skills. Just as reading is an active and interactive endeavor in philosophy, so listening should be. The lectures are meant to be an interactive experience, and students are strongly encouraged to raise questions, offer criticisms, and challenge the interpretations being offered.
In this course students are required to write two critical, analytical philosophy papers. A supplement entitled “Writing Philosophy Papers” is available on this web-site—it describes in detail what my expectations are as well as clarifying what critical, analytical or expository philosophy papers are like. In order to facilitate my goals (see below) of enhancing each student's ability to provide balanced exposition and examination of philosophical problems, positions, and methodologies, I provide detailed comments regarding the compositional, expository, and the critical elements of students' papers. I review the comments from earlier papers prior to reading later ones so that I can assess continuing progress and problems. Where students take multiple courses from me, I review my comments on papers from prior semesters prior to reading the first paper for additional courses so that I can more carefully assess their continuing progress and identify any continuing problems.
As students write their papers (and, of course, while they are reading and thinking about the current readings, lectures, and discussions), I encourage them to endeavor to integrate the knowledge they have acquired in their other philosophy courses (both those taken with me, and those taken with my colleagues), and from the other courses they have taken with the material they are currently studying in my courses. Part of what is involved in developing a critical perspective is the ability to integrate and inter-relate materials from a variety of sources, disciplines, and areas. In class (and outside of class) I am happy to attempt to answer questions which are related to such integrative attempts, and I am generally willing to seriously consider paper proposals which attempt this activity in lieu of one of the assigned topics in my courses.
In addition to writing the papers, students are required to take two in-class objective essay exams. They are designed to assess the students’ understanding of the philosophical theories, positions, topics, and methodologies studied. Sample study questions are distributed in advance of the exams so that students have an opportunity to organize their thoughts and integrate the readings and lectures around sample questions designed to indicate what they are expected to have mastered. A supplement entitled “Writing Essay Exams for Professor Hauptli” is available on the course web-site.
The web-site also has a copy of the syllabus, extensive lecture supplements for each of the readings and lectures, and other information relevant to the course. It will be updated throughout the semester. Students are encouraged to provide me with suggestions and comments about the content, links and sources they have found helpful which I can post for other students, and I am grateful for help in correcting the inevitable typos and grammatical errors!
This is a basic upper division course in the theory of knowledge. It addresses skepticism, the nature of knowledge, epistemic justification (what is requisite if we are to support our claims to knowledge), and alternative orientations within contemporary epistemology.
In this course students should become familiar with the problems, positions, and methodologies of the philosophers studied. Students should also become familiar with the interpretation texts; they should enhance their ability to provide balanced exposition and examination of philosophical problems, positions, and methodologies; and they should come to understand the philosophical activity of criticism of doctrines and things commonly taken for granted. In addition to introducing students to various philosophical thinkers, this course is intended to help students enhance their critical reading, writing, and speaking skills.
The course focus attention on inquiry and analysis; seeks to develop the students’ abilities to adopt critical perspectives; and endeavors to connect the philosophical problems, positions and methodologies studied with the concerns and methodologies of other disciplines and our culture generally. The readings, lectures, papers, and exams are integrated in a manner intended to promote these objectives. In all of these activities students will be encouraged to interact analytically with, and respond critically to, the primary and secondary texts studied. Students will also be encouraged to endeavor to assimilate the ideas studied with those they have previously studied.
Knowledge: Readings In Contemporary Epistemology, eds. Sven Bernecker and Fred Dretske (N.Y.: Oxford U.P., 2000); ISBN: 9780198752615. Referred to as “B&D” in the Readings Section below; ISBN: 9780198752615
The Structure of Empirical Knowledge, Laurence BonJour (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1985); ISBN: 9780674843813
1. “Introduction to Skepticism,” Bernecker and Dretske [B&D, p. 301 ff.]
2. “A Defense of Skepticism,” Peter Unger [B&D, p. 324 ff.]
3. “Understanding Human Knowledge In General.” Barry Stroud [B&D, p.307 ff.]
Supplementary Recommended Readings on Skepticism:
“Other Minds,” J.L. Austin [B&D, p. 339 ff.]
“Knowledge and Scepticism,” Robert Nozick [B&D, p.347 ff.]
“Elusive Knowledge,” David Lewis [B&D, p. 366 ff.]
“Brains In A Vat,” Hilary Putnam [B&D, p. 385 ff.]
“The Epistemology of Belief,” Fred Dretske [B&D, p. 400 ff.]
“A Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge,” Donald Davidson [B&D, p. 413 ff.]
II. What Is Knowledge?
4. “Introduction to Justified Belief,” Bernecker and Dretske [B&D, p. 3 ff.]
5. “Knowing As Having the Right To Be Sure,” A.J. Ayer [B&D, p. 7 ff.]
6. “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” Edmund Gettier [B&D, p. 13 ff.]
7. “A Causal Theory of Knowing,” Alvin Goldman [B&D, p. 18 ff.]
8. “Discrimination and Perceptual Knowledge,” Alvin Goldman [B&D, p. 86 ff.]
9. “Knowledge: Undefeated True Justified Belief,” Keith Lehrer and Thomas Paxson [B&D, p. 31 ff.]
Supplementary Reading on the Analysis of Knowledge:
“An Alleged Defect in Gettier Counter-Examples,” Richard Feldman [B&D, p. 16 ff.]
“Conclusive Reasons,” Fred Dretske [B&D, p. 42 ff.]
III. A Sustained Defense of An Epistemic Position:
10. The Structure of Empirical Knowledge by Laurence BonJour
“Introduction to Externalism and Internalism,” Bernecker and Dretske [B&D, p. 65 ff.]
Supplementary Readings on BonJour and Epistemic Justification:
“The Given,” H.H. Price [B&D, p. 235 ff.]
“The Directly Evident,” Roderick Chisholm [B&D, p. 245 ff.]
“A Rationale for Reliabilism,” Kent Bach [B&D, p. 199 ff.]
Recommended Additional Readings on the Sources of Knowledge:
“Introduction to Sources of Knowledge,” Bernecker and Dretske [B&D, p. 431 ff.]
“Remembering,” C.B. Martin and Max Deutscher [B&D, p. 512 ff.]
“Testimony and Observation,” C.A.J. Coady [B&D, p. 537 ff.]
“A Priori Knowledge,” Phillip Kitcher [B&D, p. 574 ff.]
Requirements and Policies: the following requirements and policies will apply for this course, and students should read them carefully. I do not accept claims to ignorance in their regard.
1. Regular class attendance is required: after the first three class meetings attendance will be taken via a roll sheet which will be passed around the class ten minutes after class has begun—the roll sheet will quickly circulate and students who arrive later than ten minutes into the class period will need to explain (immediately after class) their lateness to have their attendance count that day. Students must attend for the whole class period, and those who leave before the class period is over may be counted as absent. Students who have no more than one unexcused absence will have their course grade raised by one third of a letter grade (B to B+, etc.). Students who have three unexcused absences will have their course grade lowered by one third of a letter grade (C+ to C, etc.), students who have five unexcused absences will have their course grade lowered by two thirds of a letter grade (C+ to C-, etc.), students who ha e seven unexcused absences will have their course grade lowered by one letter grade (C to D, etc.), additional absences will be treated according to this progression. Students arriving after the roll has circulated will (unless their excuse is accepted after class) be treated as either two-thirds or one-third absent for that day (depending upon the extent of their tardiness).
Excuses will only rarely be accepted for the first absence, and only extraordinary excuses will be accepted for any third or subsequent absences. In short, multiple excuses for any individual are viewed with ever-increasing skepticism. Only verifiable excuses will be allowed, and they must be presented to me in person—messages on my voice mail do not count as excuses. Excuses should be presented as soon after the absence as possible (students who wait till the end of the semester to offer excuses for early absences need to meet a high burden of verification for the absence to be excused). Please note that I check with Doctors’ offices, hospitals and funeral homes; and I will only rarely accept work-related excuses (which should be offered before the absence).
2. Appropriate conduct is expected in class: I expect students to turn off portable phones and mute any distracting alarms or laptop generated noises (including opening greetings and message announcements). Courteous consideration others is a fundamental element in the classroom. I expect students to refrain from engaging in private conversations, noisy snacking, and only in the case of emergencies should students momentarily leave the classroom while class is in session. In short, students are expected to comport themselves in a manner which does not interfere with instruction and learning. Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated.
3. Regular reading is assumed: students who do not do their readings will have difficulty with the requirements and students who do not attend class will have difficulty with their readings. I strongly recommend that students do the readings several times—at least once before the class in which they will be discussed and once after the class. Extensive lecture supplements are available on-line through my web-site, and I am available in my office to discuss readings, paper topics, etc.
4. Papers, examinations, and deadlines: because writing is important to philosophy, students in this course will be required to write two critical, analytical or expository philosophy papers each of which should be approximately 2,000 words long (equivalent to eight double-spaced typewritten pages of 250 words per page). This indication of length is meant as a guide to the student—papers much shorter than the indicated length are unlikely to have adequately addressed one of the assigned topics. Papers may, of course, be longer than the indicated length. The papers should
address an assigned topic in a manner that clearly displays its purpose, thesis, or controlling idea,
clarify the relevant elements of the philosopher’s theory so that they can be understood by other students taking such philosophy courses,
support the thesis with adequate reasons and evidence,
show sustained analysis and critical thought,
be organized clearly and logically, and
show knowledge of conventions of standard written English.
The papers should be typed and are due in class on: Monday, October 28; and Monday, December 2.
A supplement entitled “Writing Philosophy Papers” is available on the course web-site. It describes in detail what my expectations are as well as clarifying what critical, analytical or expository philosophy papers are like. This supplement also provides a list of “grader’s marks” which I employ in grading papers and exams. I provide detailed comments regarding the compositional, expository, and the critical elements of such papers, and I review the comments from earlier papers prior to reading later ones so that I can assess continuing progress and problems. Paper topics will be distributed so that students have at least two weekends to work on their papers, and the topics will be directly related to the readings, lectures, and discussions in the course prior to the assignments.
There will also be two closed-book and closed-notes in-class objective essay exams on Friday October 25 (during the normal class period), and a Final Exam during the period designated by Registration and Records for this class. They will be designed to assess the students’ understanding of the philosophical theories, positions, topics, and methodologies studied. Sample study questions will be distributed in advance of the exams so that students have an opportunity to organize their thoughts and integrate the readings and lectures around sample questions designed to indicate what they are expected to have mastered. A supplement entitled “Writing Essay Exams for Professor Hauptli” is available on the course web-site.
Together the papers are worth 60% of the grade (30% each) and the exams are worth 40% (20% each). Students must submit all papers and take all exams to pass the course—that is, failure to complete any of the course requirements will result in a grade of F for the course. Therefore, students who do not turn in a paper or take an exam on time must nonetheless submit that paper or take a make-up exam if they wish to pass the course (grades higher than an F are given only for performance and accomplishment; and late papers and make-up exams may demonstrate these, while unfulfilled requirements demonstrate neither). An incomplete will not be assigned simply because work is late.
5. Grading Scale: in grading papers and exams, and in calculating the course grade, I use the following scale:
The “split” grades (B+/A-, for example) are assigned when the work is between the indicated grades. Of course, these split grades can not be used for the ultimate course grade, and thus the grades for the various individual papers and exams are calculated using the percentages indicated above (and adding or subtracting the appropriate fractional consideration in accordance with the attendance policy). For the overall course grade the above point equivalents constitute the minimum necessary to receive the indicated grade (thus students must earn at least a 3.67 to receive an A-).
6. Extensions and late work: I indicate the due dates for the papers and the exam dates above. Moreover, I hand out paper topics so that students generally have at two weekends to work on their papers, and I hand out sample exam questions in advance of examinations. There should, then, be little call for extensions. Before the due date I will consider reasonable requests for extensions. Note, however, that excuses do not guarantee extensions, and excuses offered after due dates are far, far less successful than those offered before due dates. If I grant an extension to a student, that extension will establish a new due date, and that date must be met (or in extraordinary circumstances, an additional extension may be arranged [but only when it is requested prior to the (extended) due date]). Please note that requests for extensions must be made directly to me—neither my secretary nor your doctor may grant extensions for this course, and last minute calls to my voice-mail provide no assurance of extensions. On and after the due date, only an extraordinary request will be accepted (acceptable examples: hospitalization on due date, extremely serious personal problem, death in the immediate family; unacceptable examples: running out of time and flat tires).
Papers are due in class on the due date—papers turned in after class will be treated as if they were turned in the next day. Students who turn their papers in at the Philosophy Department office rather than in class should give them to the Department secretary so that the date and time may be noted on the papers. Papers submitted after class but before 4:30 P.M. the next day will receive a one-third decrease in grade (example: B+ changes to a B), papers turned in two days late will receive a two-thirds grade decrease, additional days will be treated according to this progression, but papers turned in between 4:30 on Fridays and 9:00 on Mondays will be counted as turned in on Monday morning, and will be assessed a “double penalty” for each weekend day). A paper turned in one week late, then, would receive a 9/3 grade reduction (an A paper would receive a D). Clearly, students have a strong incentive to contact me if they are going to be unable to turn their papers in on time—failure to do so may have serious consequences in terms of the course grade. If your paper is late, then, it makes sense to speak with me (after class, in my office, or on the phone)—when I am provided with a good reason, I will stop the penalties from continuing to pile on to those already assessed for the lateness. Note that unless I have explicitly granted you an incomplete, all late papers and midterms must be turned in by the last class of the semester (prior to Finals Week)—assignments which are not turned in as of that time will be considered undone, and the penalty for having not done any of the requirements for the course is a course grade of “F.” Note, also, that I will not accept any but the most extraordinary of excuses for missing or being late for the Final Exam.
7. Pass/Fail” grades: in the absence of a University-wide policy, students in my courses must earn a grade of C- or better to receive a “Pass” if they have selected the Pass/Fail grading option.
8. Plagiarism and academic misconduct: when you engage in plagiarism you present as your work the opinions or arguments of someone else. Plagiarism is dishonest since the plagiarist offers for credit what is not her or his own. It is also counter-productive because it defeats a purpose of education—the improvement of the student’s own powers of thinking, reasoning, and expression. Plagiarism may even occur when one expresses another’s sequence of ideas, arrangement of material, or pattern of thought in one’s own words. We have a case of plagiarism when a sequence of ideas is transferred from a source to a paper without a process of digestion, integration, criticism, and inquiry in the writer’s mind and without acknowledgment (I have borrowed this statement, to a large extent, from the FIU English and Sociology/Anthropology Departments’ descriptions of plagiarism). Academic misconduct occurs when the norms of inquiry are violated. Examples include students who present false Doctors’ notes, who pretend that they have a family or medical emergency, or who seriously hinder other students’ scholarly activities. I assign a course grade of F when I confront cases of plagiarism or academic misconduct, and I bring such students before the appropriate disciplinary body (the processes are set forth in the Student Handbook). The minimal penalty for students found guilty of plagiarism through the process is an F in the course, the provision that the University’s “Forgiveness Policy” may not be used to expunge that grade, and such students are placed on Academic Probation for the remainder of their undergraduate careers at FIU (so that a second such act usually results in expulsion from the University).
Students should be aware that it is not hard for professors to spot many cases of plagiarism. In the Fall 2011 semester, for example, I caught and charged two students plagiarizing, and all it took to catch this was a simple web search! The University’s policies on Academic Misconduct and Code of Academic Integrity may be found on the FIU web-site at:
Contemporary web-based search engines make it easier than it was ever before to detect such activities, and I routinely filter passages I am suspicious of through one or more such filters.
9. A Note To Students Taking Multiple Courses With Professor Hauptli: as you know, I provide detailed comments regarding the compositional, expository, and the critical elements of your papers. In order to facilitate my goal of enhancing your ability to provide balanced exposition and examination of philosophical problems, positions, and methodologies; in an individual course I review the comments from earlier papers prior to reading later ones so that I can assess continuing progress and problems. Since you have already taken a course (or several courses) from me, I generally review my comments on your earlier papers from prior semesters prior to reading your first paper for this course so that I can more carefully assess your continuing progress and identify any continuing problems.
As you write your papers for this course (and, of course, while you are reading and thinking about the current readings, lectures, and discussions), I encourage you to endeavor to integrate the knowledge you have acquired in your other philosophy courses (both those taken with me, and those taken with my colleagues), and from the other courses you have taken outside the Department with the material you are currently studying. Part of what is involved in developing a critical perspective is the ability to integrate and inter-relate materials from a variety of sources, disciplines, and areas. In class (and outside of class) I am happy to attempt to answer questions which are related to such integrative attempts, and I am willing to seriously consider paper proposals which attempt this activity in lieu of one of the assigned topics in this course.
Mondays and Fridays, 2:30-4:00, and by appointment.
Office: DM 341D
Mail Box Location: DM 340A (the room is open 9:00-5:00).
Phone/Voice Mail: 305-348-3350
I check both voice and E-Mail regularly, and I return my calls.
Suggested Supplementary Readings:
J.W. Bender, ed.,
Marjorie Clay and Keith Lehrer, eds., Knowledge and Skepticism (Bolder: Westview, 1989). On reserve in the Library: BD161 K59 1989. See especially Barry Stroud’s “Understanding Knowledge in General” which critiques externalism.
D.H. Mellor, ed., Prospects for Pragmatism (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1980). On reserve in the Library: B1649 R254 P76.
George Pappas and Marshall Swain, eds., Essays on Knowledge and Justification (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1978). On reserve in the Library: BD161 E7. Numerous helpful essays (especially Swain’s “Knowledge, Causality, and Justification” which critiques Goldman’s “A Causal Theory of Knowing;” and Turner’s “Why Scepticism” which is a critique of Lehrer’s defense of skepticism.
Jonathan Dancy and Ernest Sosa, eds., A Companion to Epistemology (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 1992). On reserve in the Library: BD161 C637 1992. Numerous helpful entries (also available in the Bookstore).
Peter French, ed., Studies in Epistemology (Minneapolis: Univ of Minnesota, 1980). On reserve in the Library: BD161 S717. Cf., especially A.I. Goldman’s “The Internalist Conception of Justification.”
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File revised on 12/02/2013.