Spring 2018 - PHIL 201 D100

Epistemology (3)

Class Number: 2831

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    SECB 1010, Burnaby

    Th 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM
    SECB 1010, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 17, 2018
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    AQ 3159, 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.


What distinguishes knowledge from mere opinion? Many of the avenues we use to get to knowledge can be unreliable: perceptions can be misleading, testimony from others untrustworthy, and our memories faulty. How and under what conditions can we rely on these sources to lead us to knowledge? From these general considerations, a host of other problems present themselves. For instance, there are some beliefs we have that seem obviously true, and which are fundamental to our ability to have most other beliefs: these include beliefs about whether we are living in a matrix or whether other people are actually well-made robots. What if anything justifies these beliefs, and is the justification adequate to the job? Additionally, there are other seemingly obvious truths, like the truths of mathematics, that don’t seem to rely on perception, testimony, or memory. Does that mean there are different kinds of knowledge? When we know something, do we always, or even usually, know that we know that thing? Should it matter if we don’t? In this course we will consider these and other questions raised by human knowledge.


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


  • Six one-page response papers, due on days of your choosing but before class (four due by the end of week ten) - 5% each 30%
  • One short paper (four- to seven-pages) 20%
  • Mid-term 20%
  • Final Exam 30%



Duncan Pritchard, Epistemology, 2nd Ed., Palgrave 1137526912

Other materials will be distributed electronically.

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