Fall 2018 - PHIL 804 G100

Selected Topics in Philosophy of Science (5)

HPS Hist & Phil of Science

Class Number: 9525

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 9:30 AM – 1:20 PM
    WMC 3510, Burnaby



Selected Topics: HPS History & Philosophy of Science

[Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with PHIL 455W.]

Important note regarding enrollment: instructor consent is required for all students apart from Philosophy graduate students.

This class is about the history and philosophy of science. We will consider the methodology of integrated history and philosophy of science as a way of approaching both contemporary philosophical discussions and historical periods or episodes in the history of science. We will choose several key episodes andcontemporary debates, to illustrate the integrated HPA approach in action, and to set students up for writing term papers.  The loosely unifying theme will be measurement, which we will consider in physics, biological sciences, and for important developments in instrument development. For instance, episodes/debates will include but not be limited to a book by Hasok Chang, Inventing Temperature, about the development of the thermometer and the development of ideas of temperature and thermodynamics. There will be a discussion of measurement as it relates to Galileo, Kepler, and Newton in the development of physics, and will eventually connect to discussions about measurement and algorithms in the Large Hadron Collider. And, we will consider how 'big data' has altered research methods in biological sciences, and how this compares to earlier episodes where innovations in measurements, such as the invention of the microscope, led to marked shifts in experimental techniques.


This course can be used to fulfill either a History stream distribution requirement or a Metaphysics and Epistemology stream distribution requirement (but it may not be counted towards both, only towards one or the other). Term papers must be within that designated stream area; this means students fulfilling History will write in history of science (including history of philosophy of science), and students fulfilling M&E will write in philosophy of science.


  • Participation: students will submit one precis of a reading and one discussion question each week at the start of class. Each student will be responsible for one class presentation on a reading. 20%
  • Workshopping of term paper drafts: students will be providing feedback to each other on term paper drafts; this grade is for the comments each student give to the paper(s) on which they are to comment. 5%
  • 2 page detailed outline of term paper: due two weeks before the last class session. 5%
  • Term paper: students will complete one paper of original research into a history of science or philosophy of science topic. 70%



Inventing Temperature, Hasok Chang, OUP, ISBN: 9780195337389

Most readings will be made available in PDF form through Canvas.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

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