Spring 2018 - PHIL 144 D100

Introduction to Philosophy of Science (3)

Class Number: 2830

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 11:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 3005, Burnaby

    Th 11:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    SSCC 9000, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 22, 2018
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    WMC 3260, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Simon Pollon
    Office: WMC 4610



An introduction to philosophical issues concerning the nature of science. Topics to be discussed include the distinction between science and pseudo-science, the nature of scientific method, the nature of explanation in the natural and social sciences, the phenomenon of scientific change, the relationship between scientific theory and observation, and the objectivity of social science. Students with credit for PHIL 244 may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities/Sciences.


 It is not uncommon to believe that Science is our most successful tool for discovering the true nature of the world. However, what justifies our confidence in the scientific project? In this course we will examine a number of questions unpacking this broad concern. Among these questions may be: What constitutes the ‘Scientific Method’? Is there just one ‘Scientific Method’? How do we confirm of disconfirm Scientific Theories? Should we accept scientific theories as providing true accounts of the nature of reality? How do we gather and assess evidence in the Sciences? What constitutes evidence in the Sciences? How are the various Sciences related? How can, and can one, distinguish a science from a pseudo-science?


PHIL 144 may be applied towards the Certificate in Liberal Arts, and the Breadth-Humanities Requirement OR the Breadth-Science Requirement (but not both; student can choose which Breadth requirement to satisfy and plan enrollment in other courses accordingly).

PHIL 144 is a required course for the Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate


  • Participation (assessed on the basis of both attendance and contributions to class discussion) 10%
  • Short Written Assignments 15%
  • Midterm 15%
  • Essay 25%
  • Final Exam 35%


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.



Introductory Readings in the Philosophy of Science, 3rd edition. E.D. Klemke, Robert Hollinger, David Wÿss Rudge, and A. David Kline eds. 1998. Prometheus books.

The Poisoner’s Handbook. Blum, Deborah. 2010. Penguin Books.

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