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Art Exhibit

A traditional standard for knowledge requires certainty. With that standard in mind, Socrates responded that the only thing he knows is that he knows nothing. Meanwhile, confidence men will happily tell you they know the answers to all your problems. Where should we stand? What we know is probably somewhere in between, and the question is: where's the line between the known and the unknown, and how do we draw it? This course will help you trace your own line between the known and the unknown, by taking you through various epistemological, metaphysical, and methodological problems with the search for knowledge. Hopefully, along the way, you can make up your own mind about what you can confidently say you know, and what you are prepared to commit to the flames. 

The first half of the course will introduce you to some traditional problems of philosophy, concerning our knowledge -- and the reality -- of certain mundane things: of the external world, of the self, of personal identity, of consciousness, of other minds, and of time. The second half of the course begins with a question of what it means to be a realist about these things, and the world in general, and considers a standard, popular, response: science. We then turn to understanding the nature of science, if there be such a thing. We will look at various problems at the foundations of science: the problems of induction, whether the laws of nature are true, whether there is a principled set of necessary and sufficient conditions to demarcate ``science" from ``pseudo-science", whether we should think it likely that our current science is false because of the so-called pessimistic meta-induction, whether inductive risk threatens the idea of a value-free science, and, finally, the broader relationship between knowledge and society. 

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