Philosophy of Knowledge and Epistemology


a) Gain a deep knowledge in the domain of Philosophy of Knowledge and Epistemology.
b) Gain the capacity to relate and confront in a systematic way different stances in the history of philosophy and of current philosophical research.
c) Gain a deep knowledge of borderline and/or interdisciplinary problems.
d) Gain competences in advanced research in the field.
e) Gain competences to identify, formalize, analyze and interpret problems, hypotheses, models, solutions, from personal research initiatives.
f) Gain the capacity to subject personal perspectives to a systematic confrontation with alternative possibilities.
g) Gain the capacity to produce texts according to the academic standards, which can contribute to the development of the area of specialization.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Nuno Carlos da Silva Carvalho Costa Venturinha


Weekly - 2

Total - 280

Teaching language





COHEN, S. (1987) Knowledge, Context, and Social Standards. Synthese 73: 3-26.
DeROSE, K. (2009) The Case for Contextualism: Knowledge, Skepticism, and Context. Oxford: OUP.
HAWTHORNE, J. (2004) Knowledge and Lotteries. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
ICHIKAWA, J. J., ed. (2017) The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism. Abingdon: Routledge.
LEWIS, D. (1996) Elusive Knowledge. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74: 549-567.
SOSA, E. (2004) Relevant Alternatives, Contextualism Included. Philosophical Studies 119: 35-65.
STANLEY, J. (2005) Knowledge and Practical Interests. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
VENTURINHA, N. (2018) Description of Situations: An Essay in Contextualist Epistemology. Cham: Springer.
WILLIAMSON, T. (2005) Contextualism, Subject-Sensitive Invariantism and Knowledge of Knowledge. The Philosophical Quarterly 55: 213-235.
WRIGHT, C. (2005) Contextualism and Scepticism: Even-handedness, Factivity and Surreptitiously Raising Standards. The Philosophical Quarterly 55: 236-262.

Teaching method

The method adopted for the class combines readings and commentaries on texts in seminar along with discussion of student papers.


Evaluation method

Paper presentation and discussion in class(40%), Written paper(60%)

Subject matter

Epistemic Contextualism and Its Critics

Epistemic Contextualism (EC) seeks to explain epistemic predicates in terms of the same semantic factors that account for our use of gradable adjectives. The idea is to regard sentences of the form “S knows that p” as obeying to different epistemic standards that are made salient in the conversational context. These standards can be higher or lower, that is, more or less epistemically demanding, and will determine in each case what counts as “knowledge”, a totally relative concept from the contextualist point of view. However, if EC is also committed to eradicating radical scepticism, then its critics are right in stressing that a relativist account of “know” leaves the sceptical challenge untouched. This seminar discusses seminal contributions to EC, the main criticisms levelled at it and a major strand of thought in contemporary epistemology that reacts against traditional contextualism: subject-sensitive invariantism.


Programs where the course is taught: