The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology

The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology

The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology

The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology


The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology contains 19 previously unpublished chapters by today's leading figures in the field. These chapters function not only as a survey of key areas, but as original scholarship on a range of vital topics. Written accessibly for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and professional philosophers, the Handbook explains the main ideas and problems of contemporary epistemology while avoiding overly technical detail.


Epistemology, also known as the theory of knowledge, will flourish as long as we deem knowledge valuable. We shall, I predict, continue to value knowledge, if only for its instrumental value: it gets us through the day as well as the night. Indeed, it's hard to imagine a stable person, let alone a stable society, indifferent to the real difference between genuine knowledge and mere opinion, even mere true opinion. the study of knowledge, then, has a very bright future.

In the concept-sensitive hands of philosophers, epistemology focuses on the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge. It thus examines the defining ingredients, the sources, and the limits of knowledge. Given the central role of epistemology in the history of philosophy as well as in contemporary philosophy, epistemologists will always have work to do. Debates over the analysis of knowledge, the sources of knowledge, and the status of skepticism will alone keep the discipline of epistemology active and productive. This book presents some of the best work in contemporary epistemology by leading epistemologists. Taken together, its previously unpublished essays span the whole field of epistemology. They assess prominent positions and break new theoretical ground while avoiding undue technicality.

My own work on this book has benefited from many people and institutions. First, I thank the nineteen contributors for their fine cooperation and contributions in the face of numerous deadlines. Second, I thank Peter Ohlin, Philosophy Editor at Oxford University Press, for helpful advice and assistance on many fronts. Third, I thank my research assistant, Blaine Swen, for invaluable help in putting the book together. Finally, I thank Loyola University of Chicago for providing an excellent environment for my work on the project.

P. K. M.

Chicago, Illinois June 2002 . . .

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