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15 maggio-12 giugno 2019: Carlotta Pavese: Knowledge and Action

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Dottorato di Ricerca in Filosofia e Scienze dell'Uomo 

Corso per gli studenti del Dottorato tenuto da:

Carlotta Pavese  (Duke University, USA)

Knowledge and Action

15 maggio - 12 giugno 2019

This course will be an advanced introduction to knowledge-first epistemology, focusing on the relation between knowledge and action. According to knowledge-first epistemology, the concept of knowledge plays a foundational explanatory role with respect to a variety of other philosophically interesting concepts. Traditionally, knowledge-first epistemologists insist on the conceptual priority of knowledge with respect to other epistemological concepts, such as justification and evidence. In this course, we will focus instead on the explanatory role played by knowledge with respect to practical concepts, such as the concepts of intentional action, of coordinated action, of intelligent performance, and of moral responsibility. Here are a few topics we will touch on: We will start by reading some chapters from Timothy Williamson’s Knowledge and its limits. We will look at the compatibility of the knowledge-first approach to epistemology with a Bayesian approach to epistemology and to decision theory. We will
look at the role of common knowledge in models for coordinated action. We will look at virtue epistemology and the analogies that it draws between knowledge and action.Finally, we will look at the role of knowledge in a theory of intentional action, of intelligent action, and of moral responsibility.


Lecture 1 (May 15th 2pm-5pm Aula Paci) An Introduction to Knowledge-first Epistemology

Topics: What is the relation between knowledge and other epistemological concepts, such as justification and evidence? Could knowledge be a mental state?

Main Readings
Selected chapters of Williamson, Timothy. (2000). Knowledge and Its Limits. Oxford
University Press.
Nagel, Jennifer. (2013). “Knowledge as a mental state." Oxford studies in
epistemology 4: 273.

Lecture 2 (May 22nd 2pm-5pm, Aula Paci) Probabilistic Knowledge in Action

Topics: What is the relation between knowledge and credences? How does traditional epistemology, centered on notions of belief and knowledge, relate to formal epistemology, which centers on the notions of probability distributions and credences?  Can traditional epistemology be formalized? What the role, if any, does knowledge play in Bayesian decision theory? What is probabilistic knowledge? How can we model it? Can positing probabilistic knowledge help better understand the relation between
knowledge and action?

Main Readings
Williamson, Timothy. (2015). "Acting on knowledge." Knowledge first: Approaches in epistemology and mind: 163-183.
Selected chapters from Moss, Sarah. (2018). Probabilistic knowledge. Oxford University Press.
Pavese, Carlotta. (forthcoming). “Probabilistic Knowledge in Action,” Analysis.

Lecture 3 (May 29 2pm-5pm, Aula Paci) Common Knowledge

Topics: What is common knowledge? Does an explanation of coordinated action
require common knowledge, as many philosophers have suggested? According to
standard epistemic logic, common knowledge requires KK to be valid. And yet there are
outstanding objections to KK. Can KK be valid after all? Or should we rather question
the role traditionally assigned to common knowledge in explaining coordinated action?

Suggested Readings
Selected sections from Hinkikka, J. (1962) Knowledge and Belief, Cornell University Press.
Selected sections from Lewis, David (1969) Conventions, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.
Chapter 12 about epistemic logic in Gillies Formal Methods for Philosophical Analysis. Stalnaker, Robert (2006). “On Logics of Knowledge and Belief.” Philosophical Studies
128.1: 169-199.
Greco, Daniel. (2014) "Could KK be ok?" The Journal of Philosophy111.4: 169-197. Lederman, Harvey (2017). “Uncommon Knowledge.” Mind.

Lecture 4 (June 5th 2pm-5pm, Aula Paci). An Introduction to Virtue Epistemology

Topics: Can knowledge itself be thought as a kind of performance? If so, what kind of performance? What does it mean for a performance to be skillful? Can knowledge be skillful performance and yet have the modal profile epistemologists traditionally assign to knowledge?

Suggested Readings
Selected chapters from Sosa, Ernest (2009). Reflective Knowledge: Apt Belief and Reflective Knowledge, Volume Ii. Oxford University Press.
Pritchard, Duncan (2012) "Anti-luck virtue epistemology." The Journal of Philosophy 109.3 (2012): 247-279.
Beddor, Bob and Pavese, Carlotta (2018) “Modal Virtue Epistemology,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

Lecture 5 (June 12th 2pm-5pm, Aula Paci). Knowledge and Action: Intentional Action and Moral Responsibility

Topics: What is the relation between knowledge and intentional action? What is the relation between knowledge and moral responsibility? This lecture is about how we are
to think of knowledge and practical knowledge, if we want to vindicate their explanatory role vis a vis intentional action and moral responsibility.

Selections from Anscombe, G.E.M. (1957). Intentions.
Gibbons, John. (2001). "Knowledge in action". Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62.3: 579-600.
Setiya, Kieran. (2012). "XIV—Knowing How." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (Hardback). Vol. 112. No. 3. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2012.
Cath, Yuri. (2011). "Knowing how without knowing that." Knowing how: Essays on knowledge, mind and action: 113-35.
Pavese, Carlotta. (2018). “Know-how, Action, and Luck”, Synthese.
Pavese, Carlotta. (Manuscript). “The Role of Knowledge in the Theory of Action”.


The Lectures will be held in English.
Participation is strongly recommended to students of the Doctoral School in Philosophy and Human Sciences.

Everyone interested is welcome to attend.

13 giugno 2019
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