Professor Talbott (Email:                                                               Autumn Quarter 2013

Office:  SAV 387                                                                                                                 PHIL 450A

Office Hours:  Thurs. 3:30-5:30 pm                and by appointment                          Epistemology

Phone:  543-5095                                                                                                                TuTh 1:30 - 3:20 pm

Website:                                                       SMI 304



PHILOSOPHY 450A:  Epistemology (5 Credits/"W" Credit)


                DISABILITY RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS.  If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS), 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY).  If you have a letter from DRS indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for the class. 


                I.  Course Goals:  Do we know anything?  If so, what do we know and how do we know it?  What is knowledge?  What sort of justification is necessary for knowledge?  In the sense of justification in which it is necessary for knowledge, are we justified in believing anything?  If so, what are we justified in believing and how are we justified in believing it?  Can we know or be justified in believing an answer to any of the previous questions?  If so, on what basis?  Do the answers to the previous questions depend on one's political or other commitments?  In this course, we will consider various attempts to answer all these questions.  The course aims to familiarize the students with some of the most important work in contemporary epistemology and to develop their ability to understand it and to critically evaluate it.  The course will provide students with an opportunity to develop their ability to explain difficult philosophical readings and issues, to argue for their own views, and to take seriously the views of those with whom they disagree.  Students who successfully complete the course will earn "W" credit for the course.


II.  Course Readings.  Reading assignments are from Louis P. Pojman, The Theory of Knowledge:  Classical & Contemporary Readings, 3rd ed [Text] and from the Course Reader of photocopied materials [READER], both available for purchase at the University Book Store.  The reading assignments appear on a separate handout.


                III.  Course Requirements:


                1.  CLASS PREPARATION AND ATTENDANCE.  The class meets TuTh from  1:30 to 3:20 pm in SMI 304.  Everyone is expected to do the assigned readings in advance and to attend and to participate in the discussions.   


                2. EMAIL ACCOUNT.  You are required to check your U.W. email account regularly.  I will use email to broadcast general course announcements.  You can use email to ask me questions about the course, including questions about the readings or the discussion in class.  You can usually count on receiving a reply within 24 hours.  My email address appears above. 


3.  END-OF-CLASS QUESTIONS (1-5 Points Each).  At the end of each class except the day of the midterm exam, you will be asked to give a written answer to a question on the readings or the discussion in lecture.  These assignments will provide practice for writing answers to exam questions.  Answers to end of class questions may not be turned in late, unless the absence is excused.  All answers to end of class questions for excused absences must be submitted before the Final Exam.  If you are present or have an excused absence and receive less than 1/2 credit for your answer to an end-of-class question, you may resubmit for up to 1/2 credit.  All resubmits must be received before the Final Exam.


                4.  PAPERS.  You are required to turn in two 5-7 page papers during the quarter.  The paper topics are posted on the course Web site.  Each paper is worth 100 points.  You will post a draft introduction to your paper on the PHIL 450 Canvas site, vote by email for the best introduction, and then submit the final version of your paper to the PHIL 450 Canvas site.  See the paper topic descriptions on the PHIL 450 Web site for more information.  Papers that are turned in late will be penalized, unless the lateness is excused. 

                There is a separate handout of Paper Guidelines.  Please make sure you review the Paper Guidelines before turning in your papers.  PAPERS THAT DO NOT COMPLY WITH THE GUIDELINES WILL BE PENALIZED.  Undergraduates—especially those who have not taken an upper level philosophy course before—are encouraged to have a draft of your paper read by one of the tutors in the Philosophy Writing Center (SAV 362). 


                5.  MIDTERM AND FINAL EXAM.  There will be a Midterm Exam in class on Tuesday Oct. 29.  Review questions for the exam will be distributed in advance.  The Final Exam will be held on Friday Dec. 13 from 2:30 to 4:20.  Final Exam Review Questions will be distributed in advance.  There will be a review session in class before each exam. 


                6.  TERM PAPER OPTION.  With my permission, undergraduates may substitute a term paper (10-15 pages) for the Final Exam; philosophy graduate students must do the term paper.  Term papers may be an extension of one of the shorter papers.  Term paper topics must be approved by me on or before Thursday Nov. 21.  If you do a term paper, it is highly recommended that you turn in a draft for my comments via email.  Drafts are due by midnight on Tuesday Dec. 3.  Final term papers are to be submitted by email by midnight on Tuesday Dec. 10. 


                IV.  Course Web Site.  All handouts, study questions, paper assignments, end-of-class questions, and the text of transparencies used in class will be available on the course Web site (see URL above).  So if you are ever absent, you can check the course Web site to find out what you missed.


                V.  Grades.  Grades will be based on points earned as follows:  (1) End-of-Class questions (approx. 60 points).  (2) Short papers (220 points—110 points each (10 points for introduction; 100 points for final paper).  (3) Midterm Exam (100 points).  (4) Final Exam (100 points).  Grades will be assigned at the end of the course based on total points earned as follows:  96% = 4.0; 95% = 3.9; 90%= 3.5; 80% = 3.0; 65% = 2.0; and 50% = 1.0.  Your contribution to discussion in class can improve your grade, but cannot lower it. 


                VI.  Academic Integrity. Whenever you turn in any assignment in this course, the understanding is that what you are turning in is your own original work, except to the extent that you explicitly credit others for their contributions. You have an obligation to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, by always attributing any argument or idea that you have borrowed, even if you have modified it, to its source.  The source may be written or oral.  For example, if an argument was suggested by a fellow student, include that information in a footnote.  If it is determined that there has been cheating that involves one student copying another's work on an assignment or exam, if both students were aware of the copying, both will receive zero credit for the assignment or exam, in addition to any other sanctions that might be imposed.


                VII.  Extensions Of Time.  Extensions of time should be requested in advance of the deadline.  Unexcused, late work will be penalized.  I am generally willing to give extensions of time for any good reason.  Except in cases of genuine emergency, I do not give Incompletes.


                VIII.  Course Evaluation.  Thursday Dec. 5, in class.  The course evaluation is your opportunity to evaluate my performance and to provide suggestions for improving the course. 


                IX.  Return of Final Exams.  Unless other arrangements are made, Final Exams will be available for pick-up in the Philosophy Department Office, SAV 361, during the first week of winter quarter.  If you would like your Final Exam to be mailed to you, please provide me with a stamped, self-addressed envelope for mailing.





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