• April 18th, 2016


Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements

Any one essay question between 3.1-3.4 for 4 pages

Plan for one essay to be 3-6 pages long, i.e., maximum 3100 words or so, for a maximum of 10,000 words for the whole exam (you decide how to divide the grand total of words between your three essays). The exam questions are designed so as to cover primary literature from both old masters of the field, as well as from contemporary epistemologists. Clearly indicate which topics you have selected. As before, your essays will be judged on three criteria: (i) the relevance of what you write to the question; (ii) the argument you set up in support of your position, including its being presented as close to standard form as possible; and (iii) to what extent your paper is clearly written and well-organized.

(3.1) Outline and illustrate briefly what you take to be samples of your knowledge of language (Brook and Stainton 2000, chapter 3). Do you agree with Chomsky’s elaboration of the nature of knowledge of language as unlike other types of knowledge? If so, why (not)? What elements of knowledge of language do you find missing in Chomsky’s presentation, given your reading of Davidson? Do you agree with Davidson that knowledge of language (as he describes it) is quite special? Why (not)?

(3.2.) In chapter 2 “Knowing the External World,” Brook and Stainton end their presentation of a few arguments for anti-skepticism with Wittgenstein’s argument. Compare the latter with that suggested by Davidson (in his “The Problem of Objectivity”). Which of the arguments do you find more promising, and why? Do you see any similarities between Davidson’s argument and that hinted at by Wittgenstein in his questions? More generally, do you think skeptical arguments are more than a mere philosophical puzzle for contemporary inquiry, and if so, why?

(3.3) Present by putting in standard form one of the arguments introduced in Martin’s presentation of the sense data theory of perception (117-118). Start your analysis with the so-called argument from hallucination (or illusion), and then present your choice of criticisms by expanding on some elements of the original argument from hallucination. Be specific about what assumption(s) central to the sense data theory you find problematic, and why. Identify its role in the argument from hallucination, and on this basis give your own appraisal of it.

(3.4) Explain and illustrate one major distinction or choice of positions in epistemology which you see as having important applications to your understanding of topics or controversies in a research field of your choice, e.g., psychology, biology, indigenous studies, anthropology, sociology, fine arts, performing arts. How does your (new) use of epistemological theory help you re-think these topics? Where else would you apply ideas you first encounter in epistemology this term? Why? Williams on the value of knowledge, Mumford on organization of knowledge as based on domains

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