Fall 2018 - PHIL 201 D100

Epistemology (3)

Class Number: 6330

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    WMC 2507, Burnaby

    We 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM
    AQ 5030, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 10, 2018
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    AQ 3154, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    One of PHIL 100W (or equivalent), 120W (or equivalent), 121, 144, 150, 151, or COGS 100.



A critical overview of recent accounts of the nature and scope of human knowledge and of justified or rational belief, and of philosophical issues that these accounts are intended to address. Students who have taken PHIL 301 cannot take this course for further credit.


This is an introduction to the theory of knowledge (epistemology) for students contemplating a major (or minor) in philosophy.  The goal of the course is to provide an overview of some of the main problems of epistemology, starting with the classical issues of skepticism about the external world and the nature of knowledge.  The central issue is relatively easy to frame: if knowledge is justified true belief, as it is traditionally characterized, can we ever have knowledge about the world around us (or anything else, for that matter)?  We will look at some major responses to skepticism, as well as challenges to the traditional characterization in the first part of this course.

The second part will explore some recent developments in epistemology, and issues that arise when we abandon the traditional individualistic stance and its focus on the skeptical challenge.  These include the connection between epistemology and ethics, the nature of significance of disagreement, the epistemic value of testimony, feminist epistemology, etc.


PHIL 201 is a required course for the Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate


  • 4 one-page reading summaries 20%
  • Paper: 5-6 pages 40%
  • Final Exam 40%


Written work for this course will be submitted via Turnitin, a third party service licensed for use by SFU. Turnitin is used for originality checking to help detect plagiarism. Students will be required to create an account with Turnitin, and to submit their work via that account, on the terms stipulated in the agreement between the student and Turnitin. This agreement includes the retention of your submitted work as part of the Turnitin database. Any student with a concern about using the Turnitin service may opt to use an anonymous identity in their interactions with Turnitin. Students who do not intend to use Turnitin in the standard manner must notify the instructor at least two weeks in advance of any submission deadline. In particular, it is the responsibility of any student using the anonymous option (i.e. false name and temporary e-mail address created for the purpose) to inform the instructor such that the instructor can match up the anonymous identity with the student.



 Reading materials will be supplied by instructor.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at philmgr@sfu.ca   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html