Philosophy 220: Theory of Knowledge
Mahar Hall 201, MWF 9:10 am - 10:05 pm
Fall 2004
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: Piez Hall 225
Office Hours: MWF 10:15 -- 11:15 a.m. in my office; W 3:00 - 4:00 in Lake Effect; and by appt.


This class is an introduction to epistemology. This fundamental branch of philosophy is concerned with three key questions: The course will give students an opportunity to become familiar with some of the problems of epistemology and also with some influential and important works. We will approach these topics by reading a number of works by philosophers from Descartes to the present day.


A significant portion of our readings will be on e-reserves, but most readings will come from the 4 texts:
Descartes, Meditations
Hume, Enquiry into the Nature of Human Understanding
Quine and Ullian, The Web of Belief
Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition
The advantage to have some of our readings on e-reserves is that we can change the class as we go. We can drop from or add to the readings on e-reserves without cost, and will surely do so as we discover what we find easy, what difficult, what interesting, and what uninteresting.

Assignments and exams

You will have two exams, and periodic (nearly weekly) reading quizes. The exams will be a midterm and a final. I post most of the questions before the exam online. The quizes are to provide you with the chance to grapple with the readings in a critical way. For each reading I will post reading questions to consider while you read. The questions on the quizes will be very similar to some of these posted questions.


The raw grade will be determined in the following way:
Midterm exam: 25%
Class quizes: 30%
Final exam: 45%
See my grading policy for a brief note on how I turn the raw grade into a final grade.

If you miss an exam and have an excused absence for the day you miss the exam, you may make it up, by special appointment with me, when you are able to come back to class. It is your responsibility to arrange any make-up exams as soon as you know you are going to miss the exam. Otherwise you may lose the opportunity to take the test, since I cannot give make-up exams after the class has gone over the answers.

Here is how you secure an excused absence: Only prior notification with credibly documented or easily verifiable reasons (e.g., medical visits to Mary Walker, documented participation in official sporting events, etc.) will result in excused absences. You must notify in writing, call, or email me prior to your absence from class. You must notify the Philosophy Dept. secretary, Jane Santore, before you are going to be absent, via email at, or by phone at x2249. However, you must make sure she knows your name, the number of the course, the date, and your easily verifiable reason, along with a request to forward the information to me. It is better to give your information to me, except when you are unable to communicate with my phone or email for some reason.

Please hold onto all of your assignments and exams. Sometime before the end of the semester I recommend that you ask me to review the grades that I have recorded to make sure that I have not made any mistakes.

If you have a disabling condition which may interfere with your ability to successfully complete this course, please contact the Disability Services Office.

College Policy on Intellectual Integrity

Intellectual integrity on the part of all students is basic to individual growth and development through college course work. When academic dishonesty occurs, the teaching/learning climate is seriously undermined and student growth and development are impeded. For these reasons, any form of intellectual dishonesty is a serious concern and is therefore prohibited.

The full intellectual integrity policy can be found at

Office Hours

In addition to my formal office hours, I will be in the Lake Effect Cafe from 3:00 - 4:00ish most Wednesdays just to talk informally about knowledge or anything else philosophy related.

In addition to the listed office hours, I encourage you to make appointments. I am available quite a bit. Please try to come to office hours with specific questions in mind. You can of course come with a general request for help, but it is always helpful if you spend a little time thinking about how I can best help you out.


By the end of this class, you should know:


I will frequently update an online schedule of readings and assignments. It is your responsibility to check the www pages for the class at least every other day!