PHIL 216: What is Knowledge?

3 credit hours

Every discipline (whether the sciences, humanities or social sciences) makes claims to knowledge that practitioners in those disciplines take seriously. Consequently, any serious practitioner of a discipline must ask: “How does my discipline define knowledge and so make claims about what is true? What are the limits, strengths and weaknesses of such methods of knowing?” Clearly, not all claims to knowledge are equally worthy of our assent, so it is crucial that a practitioner of any field be able to investigate these questions. Armed with such an understanding of knowledge, a practitioner of any field is given the tools to be more critical of the claims of his/her own field and those of others. Given these concerns and questions, in this foundational course we will survey the various origins and sources of knowledge, the different ways in which knowledge could be justified, the limits and possibilities of those various approaches and the ways in which skepticism about knowledge can be generated as well as avoided when different methods of knowledge are employed.