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DEGREE REGULATIONS & PROGRAMMES OF STUDY 2017/2018

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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Postgraduate Course: Themes in Epistemology MSc (PHIL11064)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will introduce students to a number of major ideas and themes in contemporary epistemology. We will examine debates over the nature of knowledge and of justified belief, and cover topics including scepticism, contextualism, pragmatic encroachment, knowledge-first epistemology, reliabilism and a little formal epistemology.

The course is shared with the undergraduate version Themes in Epistemology (PHIL10072).

For courses co-taught with undergraduate students and with no remaining undergraduate spaces left, a maximum of 8 MSc students can join the course. Priority will be given to MSc students who wish to take the course for credit on a first come first served basis after matriculation.
Course description This course introduces students to a number of ideas, theories, themes and controversies that have been prominent in contemporary epistemology. The content of the course breaks down into 10 separate topics, to be covered over 10 weeks. The breakdown is as follows:

Week 1: Uncertainty
Week 2: The Gettier Problem
Week 3: Putting Knowledge First
Week 4: Relevant Alternatives and Closure
Week 5: Contextualism
Week 6: Pragmatic Encroachment
Week 7: Assertion
Week 8: Justification, Knowledge and Probability
Week 9: The Regress Problem
Week 10: Internalism and Externalism
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  8
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 173 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 2,500 word essay at the end of the semester (100%).

Word limit: 2500 words maximum (excluding references)
Feedback - students have the opportunity to submit a formative essay by week 6 deadline on Turnitin via Learn. The essay cannot be draft of summative essay but it can be on the same topic.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of several central theories and arguments from contemporary epistemology.
  2. critically assess and compare arguments and positions in epistemology and deploy these arguments for themselves.
  3. analyse complex arguments and concepts and to critically dissect arguments, applying these abilities to topics in epistemology.
  4. write and discuss with greater clarity, rigour and structural transparency and develop appropriate research skills in philosophy.
Reading List
The following books provide a good introduction to many of the topics we will cover:
(i) Lemos, N. (2007) An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Cambridge University Press)
(ii) Pritchard, D. (2009) Knowledge (Palgrave Macmillan)
Week 1: Uncertainty
Core Reading:
Descartes, R. (1640) Meditations on First Philosophy, trans by John Cottingham (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), meditations I and 2 [E-book available through the library]
Lemos, N. (2007) An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Cambridge University Press), chapter 1 (E-book available through the library].

Week 2: The Gettier Problem
Core Reading:
Lemos, N. An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge, Cambridge University Press, 2007), chapter 2 (E-book available through the library].
Pritchard, D., Knowledge, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), chapters 2-3. (E-book available through the library].

Week 3: Putting Knowledge First
Core Reading:
Williamson, T. (2010) Knowledge first epistemology, Bernecker, S. & Pritchard, D. eds. Routledge Companion to Epistemology (Routledge). [E-book available through the library].
McGlynn, A. Knowledge First?, chapter 1 [Available on Learn]

Week 4: Relevant Alternatives and Closure
Core Reading:
Vogel, J. (1999) The new relevant alternatives theory Philosophical Perspectives v13 [available through JSTOR].

Week 5: Contextualism
Core Reading:
Rysiew, P. Epistemic contextualism entry in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy URL = http://www.seop.leeds.ac.uk/entries/contextualism-epistemology

Week 6: Pragmatic Encroachment
Core Reading:
Fantl, J. and McGrath, M. (2009) Knowledge in an Uncertain World (Oxford: Oxford University Press), introduction and chapter 2.

Week 7: Assertion
Core Reading:
McGlynn, A. Knowledge First?, chapter 5, pages 82-124. [Available on Learn]

Week 8: Justification, Knowledge and Probability
Core Reading:
Smith, M. (2010) What else justification could be Nos v44 [available online - http://philpapers.org/rec/SMIWEJ]

Week 9: The Regress Problem
Core Reading:
Lemos, N. An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Cambridge University Press, 2007), chapters 3 and 4.

Week 10: Internalism and Externalism
Core Reading:
Lemos, N. An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Cambridge University Press, 2007), chapters 5 and 6.

A full reading list including further reading is available on Learn
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Reading, understanding and critically engaging with complex texts; critical thinking; constructive oral engagement; essay writing.
KeywordsKnowledge,justified belief,scepticism,contextualism,assertion,closure,probability
Contacts
Course organiserDr Martin Smith
Tel: (0131 6)50 3654
Email: Martin.Smith@ed.ac.uk
Course secretaryMs Becky Verdon
Tel: (0131 6)51 5002
Email: Rebecca.Verdon@ed.ac.uk
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