How Do We Know? | Book Review


How Do We Know? By James K. Dew Jr. and Mark W. Foreman is an introduction to epistemology, the theory of knowledge. It is also the inaugural volume in IVP Academic’s new series, Questions in Christian Philosophy. The next volume, How Do We Reason? by Forrest E. Baird, is an introduction to logic and comes out in April 2021.

Here is the table of contents:

  1. What Is Epistemology?
  2. What Is Knowledge?
  3. Where Does Knowledge Come From?
  4. What Is Truth, and How Do We Find It?
  5. What Are Inferences, and How Do They Work?
  6. What Do We Perceive?
  7. Do We Need Justification?
  8. Can We Be Objective in Our View of the World?
  9. What Is Virtue Epistemology?
  10. Do We Have Revelation?
  11. How Certain Can We Be?

As can be seen from this table, the book asks the basic questions of epistemology. Dew and Foreman outline the most common answers to each question, noting their strengths and weaknesses. They write clearly and use everyday illustrations to make their points.

The authors note that the book is for “those with no background in philosophy,” and it brings a “Christian perspective” to bear on the topic. This perspective is most evident in the book’s discussions about the possibility of divine revelation and of Reformed epistemology.

Given that How Do We Know? is published by the academic imprint of an evangelical publisher, I assume that its primary readers will be college students, especially at Christian colleges and universities. However, readers who aren’t college students—or even Christians—can profit from the book’s discussion of the issues, which largely tracks with the content of other primers on epistemology.

One final note: This is the book’s second edition. Its major difference from the first edition is the addition of chapter 8, “Can We Be Objective in Our View of the World?”

Book Reviewed
James K. Dew Jr. and Mark W. Foreman, How Do We Know? An Introduction to Epistemology (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2020).

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