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. Possible Worlds
  5. Causation
  6. Personal Identity
  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:




In light of the Gettier problems, would we do better to give up trying to explain knowledge in terms of belief, and instead try 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.

Lycan (2006) is a useful discussion of various attempts to argue that knowledge cannot be analysed. Among other things, it includes a discussion of Zagzebski (1994). 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.

William Lycan (2006) ‘On the Gettier Problem Problem’ in S. Hetherington, ed. Epistemology Futures (OUP).
Patrick Greenough & Duncan Pritchard, eds. (2009) Williamson on Knowledge (OUP).

‘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?

‘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.



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.)

Can one know that one has hands without being in a position to know that one is not a handless brain in a vat? Why might the issue seem important?

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



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).

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

‘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.



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.

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. Sider (2003) discusses various reductive accounts of modality, including Lewis’s. 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’.
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.
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.

In preparing for this topic, you should also be familiar with issues of transworld identity. See the entry below for this, which you may want to study in a separate tutorial.

‘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.

‘The world is not a possible world.’ Is this true according to the best account of modality?



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

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:

‘An event A is a cause of a distinct event B just in case bringing about the occurrence of A would be an effective means by which a free agent could bring about the occurrence of B.’ (MENZIES and PRICE) Is it?

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



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’, and in KK&S.
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.

John Perry, ed. (2008) Personal Identity, 2nd edition (University of California Press).
Harold Noonan (2003) Personal Identity, 2nd edition (Routledge).
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).

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?

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



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.

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

‘There is nothing metaphysically special about the present.’ Discuss.



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. 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).
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.

How, if at all, do ordinary physical objects persist?

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




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).

Defend what you take to be the best solution to the problem of induction.

Do we have any reason to believe that the sun will rise tomorrow?



Can our ordinary conception of perceptual experience be reconciled with the possibility of perceptual illusion and hallucination? If not, how should we instead conceive of perceptual experience?

*Tim Crane and Craig French (2005/2015) ‘The Problem of Perception’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

P. F. Strawson (1979) ‘Perception and its Objects’ reprinted in his (2014) Philosophical Writings (OUP).
Howard Robinson (1994) Perception (Routledge), esp. Chs. II and VI.
Michael Tye (2002) ‘Visual Qualia and Visual Content Revisited’ in D. Chalmers, ed. Philosophy of Mind (OUP), pp. 447-456.
Michael G. F. Martin (2009) ‘Perception’ in F. Jackson and M. Smith, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy (OUP).

Optional extra, if you’re feeling brave:
Michael G. F. Martin (2004) ‘The Limits of Self-Awareness’ in Philosophical Studies 120(1), pp. 37–89.

The papers by Grice and Snowdon discuss the role of causation in perception. You can find them both, along with Strawson’s paper and many other classic pieces on perception, in J. Dancy, ed. (1988) Perceptual Knowledge (OUP). Nudds’ article is a very useful survey of contemporary work on naive realism.

H. P. Grice (1961) ‘The Causal Theory of Perception’ in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Vol. 35, pp. 121–52.
Paul Snowdon (1980-81) ‘Perception, Vision and Causation’ in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 81, pp. 175–92.
Matthew Nudds (2009) ‘Recent Work in Perception: Naive Realism and its Opponents’ in Analysis 69(2), pp. 334–346.

What kind(s) of relation(s) hold between Fred and a fig when Fred sees a fig?

‘Disjunctivism is untrue to the phenomenology of perceptual experience.’ Discuss.–>



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).
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).
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).

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. Jenkins (2008) is a useful overview of contemporary work on the a priori. 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.
Carrie Jenkins (2008) ‘A Priori Knowledge: Debates and Developments’ in Philosophy Compass 3(3), pp. 436–450.
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 there any contingent truths that are knowable a priori?

Does an appeal to intellectual intuition play a role in explaining how we are able to have a priori knowledge?



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.

‘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.

‘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?



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:

Is there a distinct phenomenon of epistemic injustice?



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).

‘Existence is a property like any other.’ Discuss.

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



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.

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

‘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.