PHIL 1103: Knowledge, Reason, and Experience

Course Outline (includes grading scheme, statement on plagiarism, etc.)

Exam Preview

Essay Topics

Sample Essay

Marking Key (with thanks to Eric Margolis)

Study Questions

Instructor: Roger Clarke

Office hours: 3446, Tue Thu 11-11:30, or by appointment.

Email: clarker at douglascollege dot ca Note: Please include "PHIL 1103" in the subject line so my mailer knows your message isn't spam.


This is an introduction to epistemology, the philosophy of knowledge and rationality. The guiding theme of the course will be philosophical responses to skepticism, the view that we know or can know little or nothing of importance. We will read a mixture of historical and contemporary philosophers.


The required text for this course is Epistemology: An Anthology, Second Edition, ed. Ernest Sosa, Jaegwon Kim, Jeremy Fantl, and Matthew McGrath.

We will also read additional material, freely available on the web. All online readings are linked to below.

Tentative Schedule of Readings

We may add or remove readings from this list as the course progresses. Monitor the course website and listen for announcements in lecture to keep up-to-date.

Reading philosophy is not the same as other reading. Here is some very good advice on reading philosophy well. Some of the selections below are quite challenging--do not be discouraged if you find the readings difficult, and do not be afraid to ask questions about difficult parts of the readings, either in lecture or in your discussion section. Asking questions is a way of showing engagement with the readings.

Also, click here for a list of study questions to keep in mind as you do the assigned reading. These will help you focus on what's important in each reading.

You'll notice there are no dates attached to the reading list below. This is the order we'll read the course material, but we'll set our pace as we go. At the end of each lecture, I'll tell you what you must have read by the start of the next class.

If you don't see a hyperlink next to an entry in the list below, then the corresponding reading is found in the course textbook.

The Value of Knowledge

  • Plato: Meno (from "But when we said that a man cannot be a good guide unless..." to "... because fastened by a chain.")

Skepticism and the Cartesian Project

  • René Descartes: Meditations 1 and 2 (1641)
  • Barry Stroud: “The Problem of the External World” (1984)


The Problem of Induction

The Moore Shift

  • G.E. Moore: "Proof of an External World" (excerpt) (1939)
  • G.E. Moore: "Four Forms of Scepticism" (excerpt) (1940)
  • G.E. Moore: "Certainty" (excerpt) (1941)

Fallibilism and the Analysis of Knowledge

  • Plato: Theaetetus (from "Then, once more, what shall we say that knowledge is?..." to "things which have a reason or explanation are knowable.")
  • Edmund Gettier: "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?" (1963)
  • Gilbert Harman: Thought (selections) (1973)
  • Linda Zagzebski: "The Inescapability of Gettier Problems" (1994)
  • [moved to end of course--skip to Hume below] Alvin Goldman: "What Is Justified Belief?" (1976)
  • [moved to end of course--skip to Hume below] Laurence BonJour: "Externalist Theories of Empirical Knowledge" (1980)


  • David Hume: Enquiry section 10, "Of Miracles" (1748)
  • Thomas Reid: Inquiry chapter 6, section 24, "How Perception Is Analogous to the Trust We Have in Human Testimony" (1764)
  • Judith Baker: "Trust and Rationality" (1987)
  • Elizabeth Fricker: "Against Gullibility" (1994)
  • Jennifer Lackey: "Testimonial Knowledge and Transmission" (1999)