What is this thing called Knowledge?  book cover
4th Edition

What is this thing called Knowledge?

ISBN 9781138225800
Published April 4, 2018 by Routledge
264 Pages

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Book Description

What is knowledge? Where does it come from? What kinds of knowledge are there? Can we know anything at all? What is the practical relevance of learning about epistemology?

This lucid and engaging introduction grapples with these central questions in the theory of knowledge, offering a clear, non-partisan view of the main themes of epistemology. Both traditional issues and contemporary ideas are discussed in twenty easily digestible chapters, each of which conclude with a useful summary of the main ideas discussed, study questions, annotated further reading and a guide to internet resources.

Each chapter also features text boxes providing bite-sized summaries of key concepts and major philosophers, and clear and interesting examples are used throughout. The book concludes with an annotated guide to general introductions to epistemology, a glossary of key terms, and a summary of the main examples used in epistemology. This an ideal first textbook in the theory of knowledge for undergraduates coming to philosophy for the first time.

The fourth edition has been revised and updated throughout and features four new chapters on applied epistemology, covering the relationship between the theory of knowledge and technology, education, law, and politics. In addition, the text as a whole has been refreshed to keep it up to date with current developments.

Table of Contents


How to Use This Book

Part 1: What is knowledge?

Chapter 1: Some preliminaries

Chapter 2: The value of knowledge

Chapter 3: Defining knowledge

Chapter 4: The structure of knowledge

Chapter 5: Rationality

Chapter 6: Virtues and faculties

Part 2: Where does knowledge come from?

Chapter 7: Perception

Chapter 8: Testimony and memory

Chapter 9: A priority and inference

Chapter 10: The problem of induction

Part 3: What kinds of knowledge are there?

Chapter 11: Scientific knowledge

Chapter 12: Religious knowledge

Chapter 13: Moral knowledge

Part 4: How Can the Theory of Knowledge Be Applied to Particular Domains?

Chapter 14: Technology

Chapter 15: Education

Chapter 16: Law

Chapter 17: Politics

Part 5: Do we have any knowledge?

Chapter 18: Scepticism about other minds

Chapter 19: Radical scepticism

Chapter 20: Truth and objectivity

General Further Reading



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Duncan Pritchard FRSE is Chancellor’s Professor of Philosophy at the University of California Irvine, USA, and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, UK. His main research area is epistemology, and he has published widely in this field. His monographs include Epistemic Luck (2005), The Nature and Value of Knowledge (with A. Millar and A. Haddock, 2010), Epistemological Disjunctivism (2012), and Epistemic Angst (2015). In 2007 he was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize for his research. In 2011 he was elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2013 he delivered the annual Soochow Lectures in Philosophy, in Taipei, Taiwan.


"Duncan Pritchard’s What is this thing called Knowledge is the best text book as a first introduction to epistemology. The summaries, up-to-date reading suggestions and largely independent chapters make it very easy and flexible to use for instructors and students alike. The new chapters on applied epistemology are a great idea: they show the relevance of epistemology to some of the most important problems in modern-day life and society."

Markus Lammenranta, University of Helsinki, Finland.


"Pritchard’s fourth edition of What is this thing called Knowledge? improves on an already outstanding introductory text. With new chapters covering the relationship between theory of knowledge and technology, law, politics and education this is a highly accessible, but never condescending book. Thoroughly engaging, consistently thought-provoking, exceptionally lucid, with attention to both classic debates and contemporary developments, What is this thing called Knowledge? offers students a superlative introduction to epistemology."

Jill Rusin, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada.


"Pritchard’s updated edition is a superior resource for students and scholars alike. It expertly traverses the terrain surrounding familiar debates over the sources and structure of knowledge, and then guides the reader through newer epistemic territories and applied domains."

Robert Barnard, University of Mississippi, USA