1st Edition

Epistemology: 50 Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Thought Experiments

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after July 27, 2021
ISBN 9780367638726
July 27, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
248 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

USD $29.95

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Book Description

In this new kind of entrée to contemporary epistemology, Kevin McCain presents fifty of the field’s most important puzzles, paradoxes, and thought experiments. Assuming no familiarity with epistemology from the reader, McCain titles each case with a memorable name, describes the details of the case, explains the issue(s) to which the case is relevant, and assesses its significance. McCain also briefly reviews the key responses to the case that have been put forward, and provides a helpful list of suggested readings on the topic. Each entry is accessible, succinct, and self-contained. Epistemology: 50 Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Thought Experiments is a fantastic learning tool as well as a handy resource for anyone interested in epistemological issues. 

Key Features:

  • Though concise overall, offers broad coverage of the key areas of epistemology.
  • Describes each imaginative case directly and in a memorable way, making the cases accessible and easy to remember.
  • Provides a list of Suggested Readings for each case, divided into General Overviews, Seminal Presentations, and Other Important Discussions.

Table of Contents


Part I: Nature of Knowledge
General Background: The Traditional Account of Knowledge
1. Promotions and Traveling Friends (The Gettier Problem)
2. A Grisly Discovery (Causal Theory of Knowledge)
3. A Strange County (Fake Barns)
4. Red Barns and Blue Façades (Kripke’s Barn)
5. The Tourist (Credit View of Knowledge)
6. A Horrible Library (Kvanvig’s Comanche Case)
7. The Quiz Show (Knowledge without Belief)
8. Trip to the Zoo (Dretske’s Zebra/Disguised Mule)
9. Saul the Superstitious Lawyer (Knowledge and Basing)
10. Going to the Bank (Contextualism)

Part II: Limits of Knowledge
General Background: Skepticism
11. Descartes’ Demon (Cartesian/External World Skepticism)
12. Descartes’ Dream (Dreaming Skepticism)
13. Is the Past Real? (Russell’s 5-minutes Old Universe)
14. Descartes’ Apple Sorting Problem (The Problem of the Criterion)
15. You’re Debased! (The Debasing Demon)
16. Winning the Lottery (Lottery Skepticism)
17. You Only Believe That Because…(Contingency of Belief)
18. Hot or Cold? (Anti-luminosity)
19. A Cut-Rate Eye Exam (Bootstrapping/Easy Knowledge)
20. Off to the Races! (Disjunction Objection to IBE)
21. To Transform or Not to Transform? (Transformative Experience)
22. Mary Sees an Apple (Knowledge Argument Against Physicalism)

Part III: Justification
General Background: The Nature of Justification
23. The Unfortunate Twin (New Evil Demon Problem)
24. Psychic Powers (Clairvoyance Cases)
25. Avocados Are Healthy, But I Forgot Why (Forgotten Evidence)
26. The Sleepy Student (Problem of Stored Beliefs)
27. A Visitor from the Swamp (Swampman Objection to Proper Functionalism)
28. Missing the Show (Unpossessed Evidence)
29. A Pair of Hens (Speckled Hen Problem)
30. Birdwatching (Problem of Background Beliefs; Novice/Expert)
31. Gold Rush (Cognitive Penetration)
32. Armchair Quarterback (Isolation/Input Objection to Coherentism)

Part IV: Social Epistemology
General Background: Social Epistemology
33. The Unbelieving Teacher (Transmission View of Testimony—Necessity)
34. A Conspiracy (Transmission View of Testimony—Sufficiency)
35. He Can’t Possibly Know (Epistemic Injustice—Testimonial)
36. What’s Harassment? (Epistemic Injustice—Hermeneutical)
37. Expecting a Bad Tip (Moral Encroachment)
38. Splitting the Check (Disagreement—In Favor of Equal Weight)
39. Bad Math (Disagreement—Against Equal Weight)
40. Majority Rules? (Group Belief Aggregation)

Part V: Puzzles & Paradoxes
General Background: Puzzles & Paradoxes
41. A Gruesome Riddle (New Riddle of Induction/Grue)
42. Ravens Paradox
43. Dogmatism Puzzle
44. Sleeping Beauty
45. The Surprise Quiz Paradox
46. Knowability Paradox
47. Moore’s Paradox
48. Lottery Paradox
49. Preface Paradox
50. Proof Paradox

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Kevin McCain is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His published works include Evidentialism and Epistemic Justification (2014), The Nature of Scientific Knowledge: An Explanatory Approach (2016), (with Ted Poston) Best Explanations: New Essays on Inference to the Best Explanation (2017), and (with Kostas Kampourakis) Uncertainty: How It Makes Science Advance (2019).