PHIL 140.001 – Knowledge and Society

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Instructor: Z Quanbeck. This course meets TR 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. in CW 105.

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with questions about knowledge, rational belief, evidence, and the like. This course examines the areas of society in which questions about knowledge, rationality and evidence matter to us, such as democratic politics, science, and religion. It investigates particular “knowledge problems” that we, as 21st-century citizens, face. For example, when there is so much contradictory information out there, how can we know whom to trust? Should we be worried about the ways that our upbringing, culture, and social identities shape and bias our beliefs, and if so, what should we do about it? Should we even have beliefs about complex policy questions about which we are not experts? Should the existence of widespread disagreement about politics, morality and religion make us less confident in our own views? Through investigating these specific, applied questions, we hope to learn something about the nature of knowledge, rationality, and evidence more generally.