Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
Students must have previously taken one philosophy subject
This course is an introduction to epistemology: the theory of knowledge. We will focus on skepticism—that is, the thesis that we know nothing at all. Skepticism is hard to believe. It is common sense that we know a great deal about the external world through science and through ordinary observation. As G.E. Moore once argued, I know that I have hands because I can see them. However, there are some powerful arguments for skepticism that threaten to undermine this common sense assumption. What if I am dreaming, or being deceived by an evil demon, or being stimulated by a neuroscientist in a laboratory, or imprisoned in the Matrix? These skeptical scenarios may seem far–fetched, but how can I know they are not actually true? And if I can’t know this, then how can I know anything at all, even something as seemingly obvious as the fact that I have two hands?
|Attendance and participation||20|
|A series of short writing assignments||20|
|One (1) 4–5 page mid term paper||20|
|One (1) 6–8 page final paper||40|
For further details, see the Assignments section.
Course Attendance and Participation
This is a discussion–based class and so a significant portion of your final grade will be based up on attendance and participation. Students are expected to attend all classes, to complete the assigned readings in advance, and to participate regularly in class discussion.
Please read James Pryor’s Guidelines on reading and writing a philosophy paper.
There will be no tolerance for plagiarism and other academic misconduct. Please see the MIT Policies and Procedures.