Jonathan Kvanvig

Jonathan Kvanvig

Professor of Philosophy
research interests:
  • Metaphysics
  • Epistemology
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophy of Logic
  • Philosophy of Language
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    contact info:

    mailing address:

    • Washington University
      CB 1073
      One Brookings Drive
      St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Professor Kvanvig has authored eight books and has edited numerous editions of the "Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion" series. 

    Professor Kvanvig's current projects focus on the philosophy and theology of intellectual humility and the nature and value of faith.

    recent courses

    Introduction to Scientific Reasoning, Phil 102

    This course focuses on the nature of scientific reasoning, both concerning individual hypothesis and involving theory testing.

      Advanced Epistemology, Phil 4141

      This class focuses on a careful investigation of skepticism as a major position in epistemology and the related fallibilistic efforts to avoid skepticism. We will begin with an investigation of fallibilism, followed by exploration of the nature of and prospects for a successful skepticism. We will focus some on the arguments for skepticism, but most of our focus will be on skepticism as a philosophical position and the demands thereby placed on it. Our investigation will culminate with a discussion of knowledge of the future, a kind of knowledge easily targeted by skeptical arguments but creating special difficulties for skepticism as a philosophical position.

        Symbolic Logic, Phil 301

        This course is a second course in formal logic, following up on a first course involving propositional and predicate logic. It is recommended for students who have already taken such a course, or for students who have a strong background in mathematics. It will introduce some of the proof techniques and formal apparatus that will be the focus of Phil 403: Mathematical Logic, but with less of a focus on the metatheory that is central to more advanced courses and more on the varieties of logical theories, including alternatives to classical logic as well as extensions of it through modal and other intensional logics. We will also learn about various conditionals that have different truth conditions from those studied in a first logic course.

          History of Analytic Philosophy, Phil 480

          This course will begin with the reaction of G.E. Moore to the dominant idealism of the 19th century, together with the advances in formal approaches launched by Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell. It will engage in the rise of ordinary language philosophy through the later work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, as well as the important influence of the Vienna Circle and the rise and fall of Logical Positivism/Empiricism, culminating in the resurgence of metaphysics with the work of Saul Kripke. The course will close with a look at philosophy that is still in the analytic tradition after analytic philosophy itself had been abandoned.

            Faith and Humility

            Faith and Humility

            This book is devoted to articulating the connections between the nature and value of faith and humility. The goal is to understand faith and humility in a way that does not discriminate between religious and mundane contexts, between sacred and secular. It arises from a conviction that these two character traits are important to a flourishing life, and intimately related to each other in such a way that the presence of one demands the presence of the other. In particular, the book defends the claim that each of these virtues provides a necessary, compensating balance to the potential downside of the other virtue. The result of such an inquiry, if that inquiry is successful, will require a re-orienting of discussions surrounding faith, including debates about the relationship between faith and reason.