Knowledge & Reality

Below are readings and essay questions for tutorials in Knowledge & Reality. Many of the readings are available online, and all are easily obtained from the college or other libraries in Oxford, but if you are struggling to get hold of anything, email me, as I have PDF copies of nearly everything.

I have divided the reading for each topic into CORE READING and FURTHER READING, with more introductory texts marked with a star (*). Focus on the Core Reading suggestions in writing tutorial essays, and use the Further Reading suggestions as starting points for exploring topics in more depth during vacations. You will find more suggestions in the Faculty Reading List.

The default plan is to cover the TUTORIAL TOPICS, but I am happy to cover other topics in place of some of these. Options include, but are not limited to, the OTHER TOPICS.


  1. The Analysis of Knowledge
  2. Epistemic Closure
  3. Epistemic Contextualism
  4. A Priori Knowledge
  5. Possible Worlds
  6. Causation
  7. Time
  8. Persistence



The following anthologies are particularly useful, and contain many of the key readings. I refer to them below as SKF&M and KK&S respectively.

There are no set textbooks, but you might find the following helpful — particularly in revision during vacations. Each is aimed at upper-level undergraduates:




Do the Gettier problems show that knowledge cannot be analysed in terms of belief? Would we do better to explain belief in terms of knowledge?

*Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa and Mattheus Steup (2001/2012) ‘The Analysis of Knowledge’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Edmund Gettier (1963) ‘Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?’ in Analysis 23(6), pp. 121–123.
Linda Zagzebski (1994) ‘The Inescapability of Gettier Problems’ in Philosophical Quarterly, 44(174), pp. 65–73. Reprinted in SKF&M.
Timothy Williamson (2000) Knowledge and its Limits (OUP), Introduction and Ch. 1. Reprinted in SKF&M and available online.
William Lycan (2006) ‘On the Gettier Problem Problem’ in S. Hetherington, ed. Epistemology Futures (OUP).

Weatherson (2003) is an interesting defence of the JTB analysis of knowledge. Greenough and Pritchard (2009) is a collection of papers on Williamson’s epistemology. For helpful discussion of his arguments against analysis and his positive proposal that knowledge is the most general factive state, see the papers by Quassim Cassam and Elizabeth Fricker, as well as Williamson’s replies. The Gettier problem has received a great deal of attention from so-called experimental philosophers. See Nagel (2012) for discussion and criticism of this. Hyman (2014) is a short piece arguing against Williamson’s claim that knowledge is the most general factive stative attitude.

Brian Weatherson (2003) ‘What Good are Counterexamples?’ in Philosophical Studies 115(1), pp. 1–31.
Patrick Greenough & Duncan Pritchard, eds. (2009) Williamson on Knowledge (OUP).
Jennifer Nagel (2012) ‘Intuitions and Experiments: A Defense of the Case Method in Epistemology’ in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85(3), pp. 495-527.
John Hyman (2014) ‘“The most general factive stative attitude”’ in Analysis 74(4), pp. 561–565.

Is knowledge prior to belief? (2016)

Is knowledge the most general factive mental state? (2015)

‘It’s too easy to come up with counterexamples to putative analyses of knowledge in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions, so we should abandon the attempt to construct such analyses.’ Is this a compelling argument? And should we give up the project of analysing knowledge? (2014)

‘The theory that knowledge is justified true belief is a simple and powerful proposal. Just as we accept simple and powerful, but highly counterintuitive, theories in fundamental physics, so too we may accept the knowledge proposal despite its counterintuitive consequences.’ Discuss. (2012)



Is knowledge closed under known entailment? What significance does the issue have for the problem of external-world scepticism?

*Steven Luper (2001/2010) ‘The Epistemic Closure Principle’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Fred Dretske (1970) ‘Epistemic Operators’ in Journal of Philosophy 67(24), pp. 1007–1023.
Gail Stine (1976) ‘Skepticism, Relevant Alternatives, and Deductive Closure’ in Philosophical Studies 29(4), pp. 249–261.
Robert Nozick (1981) Philosophical Explanations (OUP), pp. 167–247.
Ernest Sosa (1999) ‘How to Defeat Opposition to Moore’ in Philosophical Perspectives 13, pp. 141–153.

Apart from the SEP article, all of these (plus the Vogel below) are reprinted in SKF&M. I strongly recommend that you read the reprint of the Nozick, which abridges the extremely long original. See also §5 of the SEP article in last week’s reading, which gives you a very brief overview.

Jonathan Vogel (1990) ‘Are There Counterexamples to the Closure Principle?’ in Michael D. Roth and Glenn Ross, eds. Doubting: Contemporary Perspectives on Skepticism (Springer).
Sherrilyn Roush (2005) Tracking Truth (OUP), esp. Chs. 1 and 2.
Fred Dretske and John Hawthorne (2014) ‘Is Knowledge Closed Under Known Entailment?’ in Matthias Steup, John Turri, and Ernest Sosa, eds. Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, 2nd edition (Blackwell). (Originally published in 2005.)
Jonathan Kvanvig (2008) ‘Closure and Alternative Possibilities’ in John Greco, ed. Oxford Handbook of Skepticism (OUP).

How important is the concept of luck in epistemology? (2016)

Is it rational to believe each member of a finite set of propositions but fail to believe their conjunction? (2012)

Suppose that I would still believe P, were P false. Does it follow that I do not in fact know that P? (2010)

EITHER (a) Is knowledge just a true belief that is ‘safe from error’? OR (b) Is knowledge just a true belief that in Nozick’s sense ‘tracks the truth’? (2009)



What is epistemic contextualism? Is it correct? Does it offer a satisfactory response to the problem of external-world scepticism?

*Keith DeRose (1999) ‘Contextualism: An Explanation and Defense’ in J. Greco and E. Sosa, eds. The Blackwell Guide to Epistemology (Blackwell), pp. 187-205.

Ernest Sosa (2000) ‘Skepticism and Contextualism’ in Philosophical Issues 10, pp. 1–18.
John Hawthorne (2004) Knowledge and Lotteries (OUP), Ch. 4.
Jason Stanley (2005) ‘On the Linguistic Basis for Contextualism’ in Philosophical Studies 119(2), pp. 119-146.
Keith DeRose (2005) ‘The Ordinary Language Basis for Contextualism, and the New Invariantism’ in The Philosophical Quarterly 55(219), pp. 172-198.

DeRose (2009) is an up-to-date statement and defence of contextualism. Brown (2006) defends an orthodox invariantist position, opposed both to contextualism and the subject-sensitive invariantism (SSI) endorsed by the likes of Hawthorne and Stanley. The debate between contextualism and SSI raises questions about the role of pragmatic elements in knowledge. Fantl and McGrath (2009) is a great discussion of this. Conee and Cohen (2014) is a useful debate for and against contextualism. It includes, among other things, discussion of whether contextualism provides a satisfactory response to scepticism.

Jessica Brown (2006) ‘Contextualism and Warranted Assertibility Manoeuvres’ in Philosophical Studies 130(3), pp. 407-435.
Keith DeRose (2009) The Case for Contextualism (OUP).
Jeremy Fantl and Matthew McGrath (2009) Knowledge in an Uncertain World (OUP), Ch. 2. Available online here.
Earl Conee and Stewart Cohen (2014) ‘Is Knowledge Contextual?’ in Matthias Steup, John Turri, and Ernest Sosa, eds. Contemporary Debates in Epistemology 2nd edition (Blackwell, first published in 2005).

Is there any reason to think that ‘knows’ is context sensitive? What significance would it have for epistemology if this were so? (2016)

Can positing variation across contexts of standards for ascribing knowledge help solve sceptical puzzles? (2015)

Are there any reasons to think that ‘know’ is context-sensitive, other than its potentially affording a response to scepticism? (2014)

‘When S knows that p, that is a non-linguistic fact about S’s mental state. That fact will obtain regardless of the linguistic context, and, hence, S will know that p in every such context. So epistemic contextualism is false.’ Discuss. (2012)



What is a priori knowledge? Do we have any? If so, how is it possible for us to have it? In particular, can the possibility of a priori knowledge be explained in terms of analyticity?

*Alex Orenstein (2002) W. V. Quine (Acumen), Ch. 4.

W. V. O. Quine (1951) ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’ in The Philosophical Review 60(1), pp. 20–43. Reprinted in Quine (1961) From a Logical Point of View, revised ed. (Harvard).
Laurence Bonjour (1998) In Defense of Pure Reason (Cambridge UP), Ch. 4 to 6.
Hartry Field (2000) ‘Apriority as an Evaluative Notion’ in Paul Boghossian and Christopher Peacocke, ed. New Essays on the A Priori (OUP).
Carrie Jenkins (2008) ‘A Priori Knowledge: Debates and Developments’ in Philosophy Compass 3(3), pp. 436–450.

The rest of Bonjour (1998) is very useful, particularly the first three chapters. Kripke (1980) famously argues against identifying a priori knowability with necessity, arguing that there are both a posteriori necessities and a priori contingencies. The relevant selections are reprinted in Paul Moser, ed. (1987) A Priori Knowledge (OUP), as is Quine (1951) and a number of other classic papers on this topic. Boghossian (1997) is an interesting and influential attempt to resuscitate an account of the a priori in terms of analyticity. Williamson (2011) argues that the a priori/a posteriori distinction is of “little theoretical significance”. Bonjour and Devitt (2014) debate whether anything is knowable a priori.

Saul Kripke (1980) Naming and Necessity (Blackwell), pp. 34–39, 54–57, 134–139.
Paul Boghossian (1997) ‘Analyticity’ in Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, eds. A Companion to Philosophy of Language (Blackwell). Reprinted in his (2008) Content and Justification (OUP).
Tim Williamson (2011) ‘How Deep is the Distinction between A Priori and A Posteriori Knowledge?’ in Albert Casullo and Joshua C. Thurow, ed. The A Priori in Philosophy (OUP).
Laurence Bonjour and Michael Devitt (2014) in Matthias Steup, John Turri, and Ernest Sosa, eds. Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, 2nd edition (Blackwell). (First published in 2005.)

Are all the propositions knowable by humans either ‘matters of fact’, or ‘relations of ideas’, as Hume maintained? (2016)

EITHER (a) Are there any contingent truths that are knowable a priori? OR (b) Does an appeal to intellectual intuition play a role in explaining how we are able to have a priori knowledge? (2015)

Do accounts of a priori knowledge have a problem with explaining how there can be contingent a priori claims? (2014)

EITHER (a) Why not simply suppose that all and only the things knowable a priori are analytic truths? OR (b) Is any justification purely a posteriori? (2013)



What is a possible world, and what reasons might there be for us to believe possible worlds other than the actual one exist?

*Joseph Melia (2003) Modality (Acumen), Ch. 1.

David Lewis (1973) Counterfactuals (Blackwell), Ch. 4, §1.
Robert Stalnaker (1976) ‘Possible Worlds’ in Noûs 10(1), pp. 65–75. Reprinted in KK&S.
William Lycan (1998) ‘Possible Worlds and Possibilia’ in Cynthia Macdonald and Stephen Laurence, eds. Contemporary Readings in the Foundation of Metaphysics (Blackwell). Lewis’s and Stalnaker’s pieces are also reprinted in this volume.
Ted Sider (2003) ‘Reductive Theories of Modality’ in M. J. Loux and D. W. Zimmerman, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics (OUP), pp. 180-208.

If you plan on looking into this topic in any more detail, the first three chapters of David Lewis’s (1986) book are essential reading. The first lays out a case for his brand of modal realism, the second defends it from various objections, and the third presents objections to various rival views. Bricker and Melia (2008) is a recent debate; they defend concretism and ersatzism respectively. The remaining suggestions all discuss other approaches. Rosen (1990) defends a fictionalist approach. Melia (1992) argues against modalism, the view (roughly) that modal notions are primitive, and not to be explicated in terms of possible worlds. Fine (1994) argues that modal notions are to be explicated in terms of objects’ essences.

David Lewis (1986) On the Plurality of Worlds (Blackwell), Ch. 1 to 3. Ch. 1 is reprinted in KK&S as ‘A Philosopher’s Paradise: The Plurality of Worlds’.
Phillip Bricker and Joseph Melia (2008) ‘Modality and Possible Worlds’ in T. Sider, J. Hawthorne, and D. W. Zimmerman, eds. Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics (Wiley Blackwell).
Gideon Rosen (1990) ‘Modal Fictionalism’ in Mind 99(395), pp. 327–354. Reprinted in KK&S.
Joseph Melia (1992) ‘Against Modalism’ in Philosophical Studies 68(1), pp. 35–56.
Kit Fine (1994) ‘Essence and Modality’ in Philosophical Perspectives 8, pp. 1–16. Reprinted in KK&S.

‘If possible worlds are needed to explain modality, it is better not to explain modality.’ Do you agree? (2016)

‘No individual exists in more than one possible world, so possible worlds are of no use in accounting for possibility and necessity claims concerning particular individuals.’ Discuss. (2015)

‘Jane studies philosophy, but she could have studied history.’ Should such claims be understood in terms of possible worlds? (2014)

EITHER (a) ‘It is possible for there to be a blue swan; therefore there is a blue swan in some possible world; therefore there is a blue swan.’ Discuss. OR (b) ‘The world is not a possible world.’ Is this true according to the best account of modality? (2013)



In what sense, if any, are causes necessary and/or sufficient for their effects? Can causation be understood in terms of counterfactuals?

* Stathos Psillos (2003) Causation & Explanation, Part I, esp. Ch. 3.

For an excellent, brief introduction to the topic, see Tim Crane (1995) ‘Causation’ in A. C. Grayling, ed. Philosophy: A Guide Through the Subject (OUP), esp. pp. 184-91. For more in-depth discussion, see Ernest Sosa and Michael Tooley (1993) ‘Introduction’ in Ernest Sosa and Michael Tooley, eds. Causation (OUP) (referred to below as S&T).

David Hume (1748) An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, §VII. Various editions, and available online:
G. E. M. Anscombe (1971) ‘Causality and Determination’ in her (1981) Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind (Blackwell), KK&S, and S&T.
J. L. Mackie (1965) ‘Causes and Conditions’ in American Philosophical Quarterly 2(4), pp. 245–264 (skip §§5-7). Reprinted in KK&S and S&T.
David Lewis (1973) ‘Causation’ in The Journal of Philosophy 70(17), pp. 556–567. Reprinted in his (1986) Philosophical Papers, Vol. 2 (OUP), with additional postscripts, and in both KK&S and S&T.

For further discussion of the counterfactual approach and references, Menzies (2001/14) is the best starting point. For a defence of a version of Mackie’s INUS approach, see Strevens (2007). For Salmon’s approach, see his ‘Causality: Propagation and Production’, reprinted in S&T, but Salmon (2002) is an easier way in. For an overview of manipulability approaches, see Woodward (2001/8). S&T is an invaluable collection. In addition to those already mentioned, see esp. the papers by Davidson, Kim, and Tooley.

Peter Menzies (2001/14) ‘Counterfactual Theories of Causation’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
Michael Strevens (2007) ‘Mackie Remixed’ in J. K. Campbell, M. O’Rourke, and H. S. Silverstein, eds. Causation and Explanation (MIT Press).
Wesley Salmon (2002) ‘Causation’ in Richard Gale, ed. The Blackwell Guide to Metaphysics (Blackwell).
James Woodward (2001/8) ‘Causation and Manipulability’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Should we explain causation in terms of counterfactuals, counterfactuals in terms of causation, or neither? (2016)

Critically compare two or more alternative accounts of causation. (2015)

Is backwards causation possible on a Humean account of causation? Does your answer tell for, or against, the Humean account? (2014)

Suppose there is only ever one ball-throwing. Can throwing the ball cause the window to break? (2013)



What is McTaggart’s paradox? What, if anything, does it tell us about the nature of time?

*Barry Dainton (2010) Time and Space, 2nd edition (Acumen), Ch. 1 and 2.

J. M. E. McTaggart (1927) The Nature of Existence, Vol. II (CUP), Ch. 33.
Michael Dummett (1960) ‘A Defense of McTaggart’s Proof of the Unreality of Time’ in The Philosophical Review 69(4), pp. 497–504.
Arthur Prior (1967) Past, Present, and Future (OUP), Ch. 1.
D. H. Mellor (1993) ‘The Unreality of Tense’ in Robin Le Poidevin and Murray Macbeath, eds. The Philosophy of Time (OUP).

Along with the article by Lewis below, the first and last of these are reprinted in Robin Le Poidevin and Murray Macbeath, eds. The Philosophy of Time (OUP).

Dainton (2010) is excellent overview of the main issues. Zimmerman and Smart (2008) is a recent debate. Zimmerman defends presentism, a view most closely associated with Prior, while Smart, like Mellor, defends a B-theoretic view. Fine (2006) is difficult but rewards the effort, arguing for the reality of tense. Lewis (1976) is a defence of the possibility of backwards time travel.

*Barry Dainton (2010) Time and Space, 2nd edition (Acumen), Ch. 3 to 8.
Dean Zimmerman and J. J. C. Smart (2008) ‘Time’ in T. Sider, J. Hawthorne, and D. W. Zimmerman, eds. Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics (Wiley Blackwell).
Kit Fine (2006) ‘The Reality of Tense’ in Synthese, 150(3), pp. 399–414.
David Lewis (1976) ‘The Paradoxes of Time Travel’ in American Philosophical Quarterly, 13(2), pp. 145–152.

‘It is manifest in our experience that time passes.’ Is this so? What follows for how we should understand the nature of time? (2016)

Is time travel possible? What does this tell us about the nature of time? (2015)

In what, if anything, does the flow of time consist? (2014)

If what is true depends on what exists, how can a presentist explain the truth of ‘Dinosaurs used to roam around in what is now Oxfordshire’? (2012)



What is the problem of temporary intrinsics? What is the best solution to it?

*Katherine Hawley (2004/15) ‘Temporal Parts’ in E. Zalta, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

David Lewis (1986) On the Plurality of Worlds, (Blackwell), §4.2, esp. pp. 202-204. Reprinted in KK&S.
Peter van Inwagen (1990) ‘Four-Dimensional Objects’ in Noûs 24(2), pp. 245–255.
Sally Haslanger (2003) ‘Persistence through Time’ in M. J. Loux and D. W. Zimmerman, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics (OUP).
Ted Sider (2001) Four Dimensionalism (OUP), §4.6.

Zimmerman (1998) defends a presentist solution to the problem of temporary intrinsics. Hawthorne (2008) is a very useful discussion, distinguishing the question of whether objects have temporal parts with different properties from the question of whether objects change over time because they have temporal parts with different properties, opening up the prospect of a four-dimensionalist endurantism. Magidor (2016) argues most of the arguments offered for endurantism and perdurantism “crucially rely on theses which are strictly orthogonal to the [debate]”. Thomson (1983) and Olson (2006) discuss another puzzle related to persistence over time: the issue of how objects can gain or lose parts over time.

Dean Zimmerman (1998) ‘Temporary Intrinsics and Presentism’ in P. van Inwagen, ed. Metaphysics: The Big Questions (Blackwell). Preprint available online.
John Hawthorne (2008) ‘Three-Dimensionalism versus Four-Dimensionalism’ in T. Sider, J. Hawthorne, and D. W. Zimmerman, eds. Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics (Wiley Blackwell).
Ofra Magidor (2016) ‘Endurantism vs. Perdurantism: A Debate Reconsidered’ in Noûs 50(3), pp. 509-532.
Judith Jarvis Thomson (1983) ‘Parthood and Identity Across Time’ in Journal of Philosophy 80(4), pp. 201–20. Reprinted in KK&S.
Eric Olson (2006) ‘The Paradox of Increase’ in The Monist 89(3), pp. 390-417.

‘The following two claims are in tension: (1) There can be change over time; (2) At least some non-essential properties of objects are intrinsic.’ Explain how this tension might most plausibly be thought to arise. How would you propose to resolve it? (2016)

EITHER (a) ‘Consider a headless statue called “HEADLESS”. Suppose that at some later time T HEADLESS has been augmented by attaching a head to it. Call the whole statue after this augmentation “HEADY”. Consider the portion of HEADY consisting of the whole statue except for its head, and call that object “HEADY-MINUS”. On the one hand, we should say that HEADLESS has gained a head and is thus identical to HEADY. On the other hand, we should say that HEADLESS is identical to HEADY- MINUS. But these statements cannot both be true.’ How should this quandary be resolved? OR (b) Are there any good reasons to prefer the view that objects persist by perduring rather than by enduring? (2015)

What is the best account of how objects can gain or lose parts over time? (2014)

Is the phenomenon of change of properties over time any more puzzling than the variation of temperature along the length of an iron bar? (2013)




What is induction? What is Hume’s problem of induction? What do you think is the most promising response to it? Does Goodman’s “New Riddle” add anything to the problem?

*Brian Skyrms (1986) Choice and Chance (Wadsworth, 3rd edition), Ch. 2 and 3. (The corresponding chapters in the later 4th edition will do, but earlier editions contain a useful discussion of P. F. Strawson’s response, which is ommitted from the 4th edition.)

David Hume (1748) Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, §§. IV and V.
James van Cleve (1984) ‘Reliability, Justification, and the Problem of Induction’ in Midwest Studies in Philosophy 9(1), pp. 555–67.
Hans Reichenbach (1938) ‘The Pragmatic Justification of Induction’ in Experience and Prediction (University of Chicago Press), pp. 341–57.
Nelson Goodman (1983) ‘The New Riddle of Induction’ in Fact, Fiction and Forecast (Harvard UP, 4th edition). First published in 1954. Other editions will do just as well.

Reichenbach (1938) and Goodman (1983) are both reprinted in Bernecker and Dretske, eds. (2000) Knowledge: Readings in Contemporary Epistemology (OUP).

Mackie offers a probablistic solution to Hume’s problem. Slote is a short response to Goodman’s puzzle. Hempel is the source of a further puzzle often discussed in connection with induction, the paradox of the ravens.

J. L. Mackie (1979) ‘A Defence of Induction’ in G. F. MacDonald, ed. Perception and Identity (Macmillan). Reprinted in Mackie’s (1985) Logic and Knowledge (OUP).
Michael A. Slote (1967) ‘Some Thoughts on Goodman’s Riddle’ in Analysis 27(4), pp. 128–132.
Carl G. Hempel (1945) ‘Studies in the Logic of Confirmation’ in Mind 54(213), pp. 1–26. Reprinted in his (1965) Aspects of Scientific Explanation (Free Press).

‘To say that valid predictions are those based on past regularities, without being able to say which regularities, is…pointless.’ (GOODMAN) How does this remark bear on the problem of what justifies us in making inferences from a finite number of instances to a general law subsuming these instances? (2016)

An item is grue if and only if either it is observed before a certain time T and is green, or it is not observed before T and is blue. Suppose that over 10,000 emeralds have been observed prior to time T and all were grue. Should one on that basis expect the first emerald observed after T to be grue? (2015)

What would it take to solve the problem of induction? (2014)

Whether induction is rational is one question; whether induction is reliable is another. Need anything more be said to resolve the problem of induction? (2013)



Can one know that something is the case simply because one has been told that it is? If not, does it follow that we know far less than we ordinarily take ourselves to know?

*Jennifer Lackey (2010) ‘Testimonial Knowledge’ in Sven Bernecker and Duncan Pritchard, eds. The Routledge Companion to Epistemology (Routledge).

Elizabeth Fricker (1995) ‘Telling and Trusting: Reductionism and Anti-Reductionism of Testimony’ in Mind 104(414), pp. 393-411.
Tyler Burge (1993) ‘Content Preservation’ in The Philosophical Review 102(4), pp. 457-88. Reprinted in KK&S.
Paul Faulkner (2000) ‘The Social Character of Testimonial Knowledge’ in Journal of Philosophy 97(11), pp. 581-601.
Jennifer Lackey (2006) ‘It Takes Two to Tango: Beyond Reductionism and Non-Reductionism in the Epistemology of Testimony’ in J. Lackey and E. Sosa, eds. The Epistemology of Testimony (OUP), pp. 160-89.

Coady (1992) is a classic defence of anti-reductionism. Lipton (1998) defends reductionism, as does Fricker (2006). Lackey (2007) argues that anti-reductionism is incompatible with virtue epistemology, the idea that knowledge is something for which subjects deserve credit.

C. A. J. Coady (1992) Testimony: A Philosophical Study (OUP).
Peter Lipton (1998) ‘The Epistemology of Testimony’ in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 29(1), pp. 1-31.
Elizabeth Fricker (2006) ‘Second-Hand Knowledge’ in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73(3), pp. 592-618.
Jennifer Lackey (2007) ‘Why We Don’t Deserve Credit for Everything We Know’ in Synthese 158(3), pp. 345–361.

How readily should one believe what others tell one? (2016)

EITHER (a) ‘Understanding other people’s eye-witness accounts affords one epistemic access to states of affairs they have observed and now report, in much the same way that one’s memory affords one present access to past states of affairs which one oneself once observed.’ Discuss. OR (b) To what extent does one’s dependence on others for much of what one knows compromise one’s ability to take responsibility for one’s own beliefs? (2015)

‘Insofar as observations could undermine our entitlement to trust testimony, so also testimonies could undermine our entitlement to trust particular observations.’ Is this true? Does it follow that testimony and observation are equally basic as sources of knowledge? (2013)

Can there be such a thing as knowledge by testimony alone? (2011)



Are there any distinctively epistemic forms of injustice? If so, how are they best remedied?

*Axel Gelfert (2014) A Critical Introduction to Testimony (Bloomsbury), Ch. 10, pp. 193-214.

Miranda Fricker (2007) Epistemic Injustice (OUP), Ch. 1 and 7.
David Coady (2010) ‘Two Concepts of Epistemic Injustice’ in Episteme 7(2), pp. 101–113.
Kristie Dotson (2011) ‘Tracking Epistemic Violence, Tracking Practices of Silencing’ in Hypatia 26(2), pp. 236–257.
Ishani Maitra (2010) ‘The Nature of Epistemic Injustice’ in Philosophical Books 51, pp. 195-211.

Elizabeth Anderson (2012) ‘Epistemic Justice as a Virtue of Social Institutions’ in Social Epistemology 26(2), pp. 163–173.
David Coady (2017) ‘Epistemic Injustice as Distributive Injustice’ in Ian James Kidd, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr., eds. The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice (Routledge).
Katherine Hawley (2012) ‘Partiality and Prejudice in Trusting’ in Synthese 191(9), pp. 2029–2045.
Jeremy Wanderer (2011) ‘Addressing Testimonial Injustice: Being Ignored and Being Rejected’ in The Philosophical Quarterly 62(246), pp. 148–169.

Miranda Fricker’s annotated entry for Oxford Bibliographies on the topic is a valuable resource:

What is epistemic injustice? (2016)

Is there a distinct phenomenon of epistemic injustice? (2015)



What does it take for a person x identified at one time to be numerically identical to a person y identified at some other time? Why might the answer to this question be thought to matter? Does it?

*Eric T. Olson (2002/15) ‘Personal Identity’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Bernard Williams (1970) ‘The Self and the Future’ in Philosophical Review 79(2), pp. 161–180. Reprinted in his (1973) Problems of the Self (CUP), and in KK&S.
Derek Parfit (1984) Reasons and Persons (OUP), Ch. 12: ‘Why Our Identity is Not What Matters’.
David Lewis (1976) ‘Survival and Identity’ in Alice Oksenberg Rorty, ed. The Identities of Persons (University of California Press). Reprinted with a Postcript in Lewis’s Philosophical Papers, Vol. 1 (OUP, 1983), and in KK&S.
Eric Olson (2003) ‘An Argument for Animalism’ in Raymond Martin and John Barresi, eds. (2003) Personal Identity (Blackwell), and in KK&S.

Note that Raymond Martin and John Barresi, eds. (2003) Personal Identity (Blackwell), the source of Olson (2003), also contains reprints of the other papers, alongside many other classic papers on this topic.

Noonan (2003) is a book length discussion of the issues, aimed at upper-level undergraduates. Perry (2008) is another useful anthology, containing classic early modern discussions of the issue. Shoemaker, a leading psychological continuity theorist, criticises animalism in his (2008). Madden (2011) is a sophisticated attempt by an animalist to deal with transplant cases. Blatti and Snowdon (2016) is a recent collection of papers on animalism, including one by Derek Parfit arguing that we are not animals.

Harold Noonan (2003) Personal Identity, 2nd edition (Routledge).
John Perry, ed. (2008) Personal Identity, 2nd edition (University of California Press).
Sydney Shoemaker (2008) ‘Persons, Animals, and Identity’ in Synthese 162(3), pp. 313–324.
Rory Madden (2011) ‘Externalism and Brain Transplants’ in Karen Bennett and Dean Zimmerman, eds. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Vol. 6 (OUP).
Stephan Blatti and Paul Snowdon, eds. (2016) Animalism (OUP).

What is involved in person A at time t1 being identical with person B at another time, t2? Is this a metaphysical question, a moral question, or something else? (2016)

Do psychological factors have the upper hand in accommodating our intuitions about when persons persist over time? Are psychological factors dominant in determining our intuitions regarding what it takes for a person to persist over time? (2015)

Does the psychological view of personal identity face challenges that other views on personal identity easily avoid? (2014)

‘Since there can be merely apparent memories, no account of personal identity can appeal to memories without begging the question.’ Does this follow? (2013)



Are there any individuals that do not exist?

*Michael Nelson (2012) ‘Existence’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Bertrand Russell (1918) ‘The Philosophy Of Logical Atomism’, Lectures 5 and 6.
W. V. O. Quine (1948) ‘On What There Is’ reprinted in his (1980) From a Logical Point of View (Harvard UP, 2nd edition, revised). Reprinted in KK&S.
Terence Parsons (1979) ‘Referring to Nonexistent Objects’ in Theory and Decision 11(1), pp. 95–110.
Amie Thomasson (2009) ‘Fictional Objects’ in J. Kim, E. Sosa and S. Rosencrantz, eds. A Companion to Metaphysics (Blackwell, 2nd edition), pp. 10-18. Reprinted in KK&S.

Quine’s paper is the first salvo in a famous debate with Carnap. Carnap (1950) was the response, which in turn prompted Quine’s famous ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’. Quine was long regarded as having won the day, but the issue is now seen as less clear cut, owing at least in part to Yablo (1998), which discusses the debate and defends Carnap. Van Inwagen (1998) is a clear statement and defence of the Quinean position. Berto and Plebani’s (2015) book is an accessible overview of work on this topic, defending the Quinean position - which they call the Standard View.

Rudolf Carnap (1950) ‘Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology’ in Revue Internationale de Philosophie 4, pp. 20-40. Reprinted in his Meaning and Necessity (University of Chicago Press, 2nd edition) and in KK&S. Available online:
Stephen Yablo (1998) ‘Does Ontology Rest on a Mistake?’ in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Vol. 72, pp. 229–261. Reprinted in KK&S.
Peter van Inwagen (1998) ‘Meta-Ontology’ in Erkenntnis 48(2/3), pp. 233–250.
Francesco Berto and Matteo Plebani (2015) Ontology and Metaontology: A Contemporary Guide (Bloomsbury).

What is the best methodology for resolving ontological disputes? (2015)

‘The standard of ontological commitment in metaphysics is the same as that in the sciences – one is committed to what one quantifies over in one’s best theory. Accordingly, it cannot be correct to castigate metaphysics as unscientific.’ Discuss. (2013)

Are ontological disputes merely verbal disputes over the choice of conventional linguistic framework? (2012)

‘Existence is a property like any other.’ Discuss. (2011)



Can the fact that Ruqia could have been a doctor be understood in terms of the properties that Ruqia herself has in other possible worlds? Can it be understood in terms of the properties that counterparts of Ruqia have in other possible worlds?

*Penelope Mackie and Mark Jago (2006/13) ‘Transworld Identity’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Roderick Chisholm (1967) ‘Identity through Possible Worlds: Some Questions’ in Noûs, 1(1), pp. 1–8.
David Lewis (1968) ‘Counterpart Theory and Quantified Modal Logic’ in The Journal of Philosophy 65(5), pp. 113–126.
Robert M. Adams (1979) ‘Primitive Thisness and Primitive Identity’ in The Journal of Philosophy 76(1), pp. 5–26.
Saul Kripke (1980) Naming and Necessity (Blackwell), pp. 16-20 and 44-47.

Forbes (1985) argues that unless things have non-trivial individual essences, transworld identities will be problematically ungrounded. Mackie (2006) discusses Forbes. Lewis (1986) discusses his counterpart theory in more detail. Fara and Williamson (2005) argues against it. (Be warned: this paper is quite technical.)

Graeme Forbes (1985) The Metaphysics of Modality (OUP), Ch. 6.
Penelope Mackie (2006) How Things Might Have Been (OUP), Ch. 2 and 3.
David Lewis (1986) On the Plurality of Worlds (Blackwell), Ch. 4.
Michael Fara and Tim Williamson (2005) ‘Counterparts and Actuality’ in Mind 114(453), pp. 1–30.

‘No individual exists in more than one possible world, so possible worlds are of no use in accounting for possibility and necessity claims concerning particular individuals.’ Discuss. (2015)

Could two distinct possible situations be qualitatively identical, differing only by permutation of their inhabitants? (2012)