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PHIL 11N: Skepticism

General Education Requirements

Not currently certified for a requirement. Courses are typically considered for Ways certification a quarter in advance.


Course Description

Traditionally, philosophers have called into question general assumptions taken for granted in everyday life or in the course of normal scientific inquiry. Some such questions concern the limits and possibility of knowledge. Can we know whether there is an external reality independent of our minds? Do we have solid grounds to believe in the laws of nature formulated according to our best scientific methods? Do logic and mathematics constitute knowledge? Is there any knowledge that can be grounded independently of our experience (a priori knowledge)? Epistemological skepticism is the philosophical point of view that argues for negative answers to such questions. Different forms of skepticism have recurred throughout the history of philosophy, but epistemological skepticism became especially prominent in the early modern period. We will discuss skeptical questions and answers as formulated by central philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries (René Descartes and David Hume) and will examine the views on skepticism of some philosophers of the 20th century, in particular Ludwig Wittgenstein. 


Meet the Instructor: Graciela De Pierris

Graciela de Pierris

Graciela De Pierris, a C. I. Lewis professor of philosophy at Stanford, is a native of Argentina. She graduated from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina, before pursuing graduate study at UC Berkeley, where she received her M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy. She has published articles in Analisis FilosoficoThe Canadian Journal of PhilosophyDialogosJournal of the History of PhilosophyManuscritoNousPacific Philosophical QuarterlyPhilosophy and Phenomenological ResearchRevista Latinoamericana de FilosofiaSynthese, and Hume Studies. Her book on Hume, Ideas, Evidence, and Method, was published by Oxford University Press in April 2015.

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