Fall 2018 - PHIL 302 D100

Topics in Epistemology and Metaphysics (3)


Class Number: 6335

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    WMC 3255, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    PHIL 201 or 203.



An exploration of philosophical issues concerning, e.g.: causation, time, modality, or the self; the realism/nominalism or realism/idealism debate; relativism; the concept of truth; naturalized epistemology; global epistemological skepticism or perhaps a 'local' form of skepticism such as skepticism about induction or about sensory belief. May be repeated for credit.


Selected Topics: Possibility

The world could have been different. You could have delayed your studies this year; Lassie could have been played by a labradoodle; there could have been just one more star in the universe. Claims about what is or is not possible are ubiquitous in philosophy. But what do these claims really mean?

Many philosophers have accepted a so-called “possible worlds analysis” of possibility, according to which something is possible just in case it’s actual in some possible world. This analysis is theoretically useful, especially in logic. But do these "possible worlds" really exist? If so, what are they?

This course explores both recent classics and new works in the metaphysics literature on possibility and other modal notions, including one of the most influential works in this area, David Lewis’s On the Plurality of Worlds. We will begin with early 20th century skepticism about the notion of metaphysical modality.


  • Two short writing assignments 10%
  • Shorter paper 35%
  • Longer paper proposal 5%
  • Longer paper 50%



David Lewis. On the Plurality of Worlds. 2001. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN-13: 978-0631224266.

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