Epistemology or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature and scope of knowledge. The term epistemology is based on the Greek words episteme (meaning knowledge) and logos (meaning account/explanation); it is thought to have been coined by the Scottish philosopher James Frederick Ferrier.
Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth, belief, and justification. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, and skepticism about different knowledge claims. In other words, epistemology addresses the questions, What is knowledge? How is knowledge acquired? and, What do people know? Although approaches to answering any one of these questions frequently involve theories connected to others (i.e. some theories of what knowledge is being influenced by broad views as to what people know, with restrictive definitions of knowledge thereby dismissed), there is enough particularized to each that they may be treated of separately.
There are many different topics, stances, and arguments in the field of epistemology. Recent studies have dramatically challenged centuries-old assumptions, and it therefore continues to be vibrant and dynamic.