An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology
Dancy (Jonathan)
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Amazon Customer Review

  1. This book introduces and defends the coherence theory of truth and justification as an approach to the epistemological enterprise.
    • The book starts out with a clear classification of central sceptical problems and the author’s convictions that they should be taken seriously.
    • It then introduces the definition of knowledge and the associated Gettier problems as well as providing a critique of the conditional theory, causal theory and defeasibility condition theory.
    • Thirdly the book provides a critique of foundationalism as a theory of justification and instead defends the coherence theory against some of its traditional criticisms and makes an interesting case for the coherence theory justifying inductive reasoning.
  2. I found this book quite enjoyable, the arguments are passionately given but are at the same time clear and make much reference to other philosophers, especially Quine (it's not just the author’s own views and theories being run off).
  3. Readers are unlikely to buy some of the author's defensive arguments for the coherence theory – he seems to try and sidestep the plurality objection rather than create a strong argument against it – but the book is worth reading for its scope of inquiry alone: perception, memory, induction, holism versus atomism, indeterminacy etc. All are examined with reference to the coherence theory's application to their central poblems.

For a detailed analysis of the whole book, follow this link1.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology: Introduction"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Introduction
Write-up Note1

Philosophers Index Abstract
    An introductory textbook covering the main areas of contemporary debate, with sections on knowledge, justification, perception, etc. Direct realism is preferred to other theories of perception. In general, a coherentist perspective is preferred even to weak forms of foundationalism. Various answers to the probings of the sceptic are suggested, and the relevance of the internalism/externalism distinction made clear. The book ends with chapters on memory, induction, a priori knowledge and the possibility of epistemology.


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Scepticism"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 1
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. Some Distinctions
  2. Three Sceptical Arguments
    … 2.1 Brains in Vats
    … 2.2 The Argument from Error
    … 1.2.3 The Justification of Arguments from Experience
  3. A Short Way with the Sceptic
  4. Another Reply
  5. A Better Response


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Knowledge"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 2
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. The Traditional Account
  2. Gettier Counter-examples
  3. Responses to Gettier
    … 3.1 The Presence of Relevant Falsehood
    … 3.2 Defeasibility
    … 3.3 Reliability
    … 3.4 Conclusive Reasons
    … 3.5 The Causal Theory
  4. Concluding Remarks


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - The Conditional Theory of Knowledge"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 3
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. The Theory
  2. Some Comments
    … 2.1 Relation to the Other Theories
    … 2.2 Relation to Justified Belief
    … 2.3 Luck
    … 2.4 Certainty
  3. The Principle of Closure & the First Sceptical Argument
    … 3.1 Disproof of the Principle of Closure (PCk)
  4. Has Nozick Refuted the Sceptic?
  5. Internalism and Externalism


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Foundationalism"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 4
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. Classical Foundationalism
    … 1.1 Probability and Certainty
    … 1.2 The Regress Argument
    … 1.3 Infallibility and Justification
  2. Problems for Classical Foundationalism
  3. Foundationalism Without Infallibility


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Foundationalism and Other Minds"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 5
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. Basic Beliefs and One’s Own Sensory States
  2. The Problem of Other Minds
  3. The Argument from Analogy
  4. Can you Understand Propositions about Minds other than Your Own?
  5. The Private Language Argument: Rule Following
  6. Another Interpretation
    … 6.1 Objection 1 (Solo-operation?)
    … 6.2 Objection 2 (Objectivity?)
  7. Common Conclusions
  8. Prospects for Foundationalism


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Empiricist Theories of Meaning"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 6
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. The Relevance of Theories of Meaning to Epistemology
  2. Logical Empiricism and the Evidence of One’s Senses
  3. Three Verificationist Theories
    … 3.1 Phenomenalism
    … 3.2 Carnap’s Relaxation
    … 3.3 Quine


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Holism and Indeterminacy"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 7
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. The Indeterminacy of Translation
  2. Quine as a Foundationalist
  3. Atomism and Holism
  4. The Merits of a More Complete Holism
    … 4.1 Argument 1: the “argument from above”
    … 4.2 Argument 2: the criteria used in translations
    … 4.3 Argument 3: the relation between belief and meaning
    … 4.4 Conclusion
  5. Verificationism, Anti-Realism and Foundationalism


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Coherence Theories"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 8
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. What is Coherence?
  2. The Coherence Theory of Truth
  3. The Coherence Theory of Justification
  4. The Role of Empirical Data
  5. Coherentism and Empiricism


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Coherence, Justification and Knowledge"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 9
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. The Regress Argument
    … 1.1 A First Regress Argument
    … 1.2 Another Regress Argument
  2. Internalism and Externalism
  3. Degrees of Internalism
    … 3.1 No clause c
    … 3.2 Accompany c with Kac
    … 3.3 Accompany c with Bac
    … 3.4 Accompany c with JBac
  4. Internalism and Coherentism
  5. Coherentism, Realism and Scepticism


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Theories of Perception"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 10
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. Is There Room for a Philosophy of Perception?
  2. Theories of Perception
  3. Direct Realism
  4. Indirect Realism
  5. Naïve and Scientific Forms of Indirect Realism
  6. Phenomenalism and Idealism


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Perception: the Choice of a Theory"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 11
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. Phenomenalism and the Explanation of Experience
  2. Indirect Realism: Double Awareness and a Double Object
    … 2.1 The Sceptical Objection
    … 2.2 The Direct and the Indirect
    … 2.3 Inferential Realism
    … 2.4 Conclusion
  3. Direct Realism and the Explanation of Perceptual Error
  4. A Causal Element
    … 4.1 Comment 1: Reliability Requirements
    … 4.2 Comment 2: Externalism
  5. Perception, Causation and Justification
    … 5.1 Justification 1: Truth Tracking
    … 5.2 Justification 2: Conceptual Necessity
    … 5.3 Justification 3: Coherentism
    … 5.4 Justification 4: Causal
  6. Direct Realism and Coherentism
    … 6.1 Pure anti-realists should be phenomenalists
    … 6.2 A coherentist should be a direct rather than indirect realist
    … 6.3 Scientific direct realism is better than the naïve form


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Memory"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 12
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. Theories of Memory
  2. Indirect Realism
    … 2.1 Objection 1: double awareness
    … 2.2 Objection 2: double intermediacy
    … 2.3 Objection 3: memory and imagination
  3. Direct Realism
    … 3.1 Factual memory
    … 3.2 Perceptual memory
    … 3.3 Definitions, distinctions and contrasts
    … 3.4 Problems for direct realism
  4. Phenomenalism
  5. Russell’s Hypothesis
    … 5.1 Nozick’s response
    … 5.2 The phenomenalist response
    … 5.3 The transcendental argument
    … 5.4 Conclusion
  6. Perceptual Memory and Justification


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Induction"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 13
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. Induction, Perception and Memory
  2. Two Conceptions of the Future
  3. Hume and his Critics
    … 3.1 Is the Circularity Vicious?
    … 3.2 Appeals to Analyticity
  4. Goodman’s New Riddle of Induction
  5. Coherentism and Induction


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - A Priori Knowledge"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 14
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. Foundationalism and A Priori Knowledge
  2. Empiricism. The A Priori and the Analytic
  3. Can Synthetic Truths be Known A Priori?
  4. A Priori Knowledge and Universal Truth
  5. A Priori Knowledge and Necessary Truth
  6. Quine and the Distinction between A Priori and Empirical
  7. A Coherentist Approach
    … 7.1 Hume’s view
    … 7.2 Quine’s view
    … 7.3 Blanchard’s view


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



"Dancy (Jonathan) - Is Epistemology Possible?"

Source: Dancy - An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, 1985, Chapter 15
Write-up Note1

Sections
  1. Hegel
  2. Chisholm and the Problem of the Criterion
  3. Quine and the Non-Existence of First Philosophy
  4. Epistemology Naturalised
  5. Conclusion


COMMENT: For a précis, see this Note2.



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