An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge

An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge

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An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge guides the reader through the key issues and debates in contemporary epistemology. Lucid, comprehensive and accessible, it is an ideal textbook for students who are new to the subject and for university undergraduates. The book is divided into five parts. Part I discusses the concept of knowledge and distinguishes between different types of knowledge. Part II surveys the sources of knowledge, considering both a priori and a posteriori knowledge. Parts III and IV provide an in-depth discussion of justification and scepticism. The final part of the book examines our alleged knowledge of the past, other minds, morality and God. O'Brien uses engaging examples throughout the book, taking many from literature and the cinema. He explains complex issues, such as those concerning the private language argument, non-conceptual content, and the new riddle of induction, in a clear and accessible way. This textbook is an invaluable guide to contemporary epistemology.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 176 x 242 x 22mm | 539.78g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745633161
  • 9780745633169
  • 2,326,302

Back cover copy

An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge guides the reader through the key issues and debates in contemporary epistemology. Lucid, comprehensive and accessible, it is an ideal textbook for students who are new to the subject and for university undergraduates. The book is divided into five parts. Part I discusses the concept of knowledge and distinguishes between different types of knowledge. Part II surveys the sources of knowledge, considering both a priori and a posteriori knowledge. Parts III and IV provide an in-depth discussion of justification and scepticism. The final part of the book examines our alleged knowledge of the past, other minds, morality and God.

O'Brien uses engaging examples throughout the book, taking many from literature and the cinema. He explains complex issues, such as those concerning the private language argument, non-conceptual content, and the new riddle of induction, in a clear and accessible way. This textbook is an invaluable guide to contemporary epistemology.
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Table of contents

* Detailed Chapter Contents * PREFACE * PART I: INTRODUCTION TO KNOWLEDGE * Chapter 1: THE THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE *1. Epistemology *2. The Structure of the Book *2. 1 Part I: Introduction to Knowledge *2. 2 Part II: Sources of Knowledge *2. 3 Part III: Justification *2. 4 Part IV: Scepticism *2. 5 Part V: Areas of Knowledge *3. Further Reading and Study * Chapter 2: WHAT IS KNOWLEDGE? *1. Philosophical Analysis *2. The Tripartite Definition of Knowledge *3. Are Justification and Belief Necessary for Knowledge? *4. Gettier Cases *5. Richer Notions of Justification *5. 1 Infallibility *5. 2 No False Beliefs *6. Knowledge as Basic *7. Family Resemblance * Questions * Further Reading * PART II: SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE * Chapter 3: A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE *1. Knowledge, Reason and Experience *2. Rationalism and Empiricism *3. The Synthetic A Priori *4. Self-Evidence and Certainty *5. Innate Knowledge * Questions * Further Reading * Chapter 4: PERCEPTION *1. Direct Realism *2. Indirect Realism *2. 1 The Argument From Illusion *2. 2 Dualism *3. Rejecting Realism *3. 1 Idealism *3. 2 Phenomenalism *3. 3 Problems for Phenomenalism *4. The Intentionalist Theory of Perception *4. 1 Adverbialism *4. 2 Intentionalism *4. 3 Phenomenology *5. Seeing That, Seeing As, and Raw Seeing * Questions * Further Reading * Chapter 5: TESTIMONY *1. The Individualistic Approach to Knowledge *2. Testimony *3. Hume's Account of Testimony *3. 1 The Problem of Circularity *3. 2 The Martian Argument *4. Reid's Account of Testimony * Questions * Further Reading * PART III: JUSTIFICATION * Chapter 6: FOUNDATIONALISM *1. The Regress Argument for Traditional Foundationalism *2. Sellars and the Myth of the Given *3. Conceptual and Non-Conceptual Content *4. Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument *5. Experience and Thought *6. Modest Foundationalism * Questions * Further Reading * Chapter 7: COHERENTISM *1. A Holistic Conception of Justification *2. The Concept of Coherence *3. Problems for Coherentism *3. 1 The Isolation Problem *3. 2 Alternative Coherent Belief Systems *4. Coherence Theories of Truth *5. A Coherentist Account of Perception *6. A Thinker's Access to Her Own Belief System * Questions * Further Reading * Chapter 8: INTERNALISM AND EXTERNALISM *1. Internalism *2. Externalism *2. 1 The Basic Reliabilist Picture *2. 2 Causal Accounts of Knowledge *2. 3 Tracking Accounts of Knowledge *3. Arguments for Externalism *3. 1 Non-Reflective Knowledge *3. 2 An Epistemological Cure-All *4. Arguments Against Externalism *4. 1 Knowledge and Rationally Motivated Action *4. 2 Lucky Yet Reliable Beliefs *5. Two Kinds of Knowledge * Questions * Further Reading * PART IV: SCEPTICISM * Chapter 9: SCEPTICISM *1. Cartesian Scepticism *1. 1 Dreams and the Demon *1. 2 Descartes Goes to the Movies *2. Accepting Cartesian Scepticism *2. 1 Withholding Belief *2. 2 Dinner, Backgammon and Conversation *3. Contextualism *4. Cognitive Externalism *5. The Epistemological Externalist Response to Scepticism * Questions * Further Reading * Chapter 10: THE PROBLEM OF INDUCTION *1. Inductive Inference *2. Hume's Inductive Scepticism *3. Responses to Inductive Scepticism *3. 1 Popper's Deductive Conception of Science *3. 2 Probability *3. 3 The Reliabilist Response *3. 4 The Coherentist Response *4. The New Riddle of Induction *5. Responses to the New Riddle of Induction *5. 1 Simplicity *5. 2 Grue is Not a Colour * Questions * Further Reading * Chapter 11: NATURALIZED EPISTEMOLOGY *1. Quine and Epistemology *1. 1 The Failure of Traditional Epistemology *1. 2 Quine and Scepticism *1. 3 Quine and the A Priori *2. The Normative Nature of Epistemology *3. Less Radical Forms of Naturalism * Questions * Further Reading * PART V: AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE * Chapter 12: MEMORY *1. Memory, Belief and Knowledge *2. Memory Images *3. The Causal Theory of Memory *4. Scepticism and the Reality of the Past *5. The Relation Between Perception, Testimony and Memory * Questions * Further Reading * Chapter 13: OTHER MINDS *1. First Person Authority *2. The Problem of Other Minds and Solipsism *3. The Argument From Analogy *4. Seeing Minds *5. The Private Language Argument Revisited *6. Behaviourism *7. Theoretical Knowledge of the Mind * Questions * Further Reading * Chapter 14: MORAL KNOWLEDGE *1. An Empirical Approach to Morality *1. 1 Utilitarianism *1. 2 Problems for Utilitarianism *2. An A Priori Approach to Morality *2. 1 Kant and the Categorical Imperative *2. 2 Problems for Kant's Moral Theory *3. Moral Testimony *4. Moral Scepticism *4. 1 Relativism *4. 2 Emotivism * Questions * Further Reading * Chapter 15: GOD *1. An A Priori Proof for the Existence of God: The Ontological Argument *2. Empirical Justification for Religious Belief *2. 1 The Argument From Design *2. 2 The Argument From Miracles *2. 3 Hume on Miracles *3. Perceiving God *4. Pascal's Wager *5. Scepticism, Atheism and Agnosticism * Questions * Further Reading * Glossary * References * Index
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Review quote

"Clear, lively, and based on thorough knowledge of the field, O'Brien's book provides an excellent introductory text in epistemology." --Christopher Hookway, University of Sheffield "You would have bet against anyone being able to present a concise, rigorous, thoroughly enjoyable introduction not just to all the central areas of epistemology but also to such difficult topics as Wilfrid Sellars' Myth of the Given, Wittgenstein's private language arguments and John McDowell's theory of experience. You would have lost. Dan O'Brien's text is just excellent. The author is an ideal guide through the maze of views that constitutes modern theory of knowledge." --Laurence Goldstein, University of Kent
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About Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien, lectures on Philosophy at the University of Birmingham and is an Associate Lecturer for the Open University.
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Rating details

26 ratings
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5 31% (8)
4 46% (12)
3 19% (5)
2 4% (1)
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