Bill Talbott††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Winter Quarter 2003

Office: Savery 252††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Philosophy 490A

Phone:543-5095††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Advanced Topics in Epistemology

Email:wtalbott@†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† TTh 11:00-12:50

URL:†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† SAV 131

Office Hours: MW 3-4 pm and by appointment




PHILOSOPHY 490A:Advanced Topics in Epistemology


Disabled Student Services.If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY).If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services 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: This course will be based on the manuscript of a book that I am writing to be titled Learning from Experience.The manuscript defends a novel way of understanding rational belief.The main idea is that most discussions of rational belief (or epistemic justification) are based on a shared but mistaken presuppositions about the nature of knowledge and rational belief that I refer to as the Proof Paradigm.I propose an alternative framework for understanding rational belief, which I refer to as the Implicit Sensitivity Paradigm.The course will be an opportunity for me to present the ideas in the manuscript and for me to obtain critical responses to the manuscript.The course will be taught in mixed lecture/seminar format.


††††††††††† II.Course Requirements:


††††††††††† 1.Class Attendance.The class meets TuTh from 11:00 am to 12:50 pm in Savery 131.Everyone is expected to do the assigned readings in advance and to attend class and to participate in the discussion.


††††††††††† 2.Email Assignment.Each student is required to have an email account and to check it regularly.Important announcements will be distributed by email.Your first assignment (worth 5 points) is to send me an email message with your name, student ID number, email address, and a brief statement of your background in philosophy.My email address appears above.Please feel free to contact me via email when you have a question or concern.You can usually count on having a reply from me within 24 hours.


3.Course Readings.See the separate handout of Reading Assignments.You are expected to have done the assigned readings in advance of the first class session of the week in which they are to be discussed.There are two required texts, and three course readers (Vols. 1-3).The two required texts are

A.Required Texts.Available for purchase at the University Book Store:(a) Laurence BonJour, In Defense of Pure Reason; (b) Robert Nozick, The Nature of Rationality.

B.Course Readers (Vols. 1-3).Available for purchase at the Copy Center in the Communications Building, Room B‑042.Volume 1 of the course reader contains material that is also contained in the Autumn 2002 PHIL 450 course reader, so purchase of it is optional.Volume 2 of the course reader contains one reading (an excerpt from Nozick's book, Invariances).Volume 2 is required.Volume 3 of the course reader contains parts of my book manuscript.Volume 3 is also required.


††††††††††† 4.Weekly Response Paper.Each Thursday will be devoted to critical evaluation of the issues raised in the week's readings and class discussion.Each student will turn in a 2-page reflection on some important issue from the readings.

††††††††††† To obtain full credit for the weekly written assignment, you must send it to me as an email attachment before class on the day it is due and you must attend class on the due date prepared to discuss it.DO NOT SKIP CLASS TO FINISH YOUR RESPONSE PAPER.Students who have an unexcused absence on the date when a response paper is due will incur a further penalty on their papers, IN ADDITION TO the penalty for lateness.


††††††††††† 5.Discussion Leader and Critical Review Paper.Each student in the class will lead one of the Thursday discussions.Each student must sign up for a Thursday discussion session by the end of class on Thursday, Jan. 9.Sign-ups for discussion leader will be on a first come, first served basis, so the earlier you sign up, the greater your choice of topics.After the discussion session, the discussion leader will prepare a 5-page critical review of the one or more of the most important issues discussed.(This critical review paper may be a development of your 2-page response paper, but it need not be.)The critical review paper is to be turned in the following Tuesday.

††††††††††† 6.Term Paper.Each student is required to prepare a term paper (10-15 pages).Any of the issues discussed in the course could be the basis for a term paper.I will provide many suggested term paper topics during the course.All term paper topics must be discussed with me and approved by me on or before the end of class on Tuesday, March 4.Your term paper may be a development of your critical review paper or a development of one of your response papers, but it need not be.You are strongly encouraged to submit a draft of your term paper to me for comments, before you prepare the final version.The deadline for submitting term paper drafts is the beginning of class on Thursday, Mar. 13 (though you are encouraged to submit them before that date).Drafts should be submitted as an email attachment.I will do my best to have comments on all drafts returned via email by sometime on Friday, March 14.The deadline for submitting the final version of the term paper is 5 pm on Wed., March 19.The final version should also be submitted as an email attachment.



††††††††††† III.Extensions Of Time.Reasonable extensions of time will be granted, if they are requested in advance of the deadline.Unexcused, late work will be penalized.However, late work still earns partial credit.The last time to submit late work is 5 pm on Wed. March 19.†† I DO NOT INTEND TO GRANT ANY INCOMPLETES, EXCEPT IN CASES OF GENUINE EMERGENCIES.


IV.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.


††††††††††† V. Grades.Grades will be based on total points (out of a total possible of 365 points) as follows:E‑mail assignment (5 points); response papers (90 pointsó10 points each); effectiveness as discussion leader (20 points); critical review paper (50 points); term paper (200 points).Your contribution to discussion in class can improve your grade, but cannot lower it.


††††††††††† VI.Course Evaluation.The course evaluation will take place during the final class session on March 13.The course evaluation is your opportunity to evaluate my performance and to provide suggestions for improving the class.