Spring 2018 - PHIL 455W D100

Contemporary Issues in Epistemology and Metaphysics (4)

Philosophy of Philosophy

Class Number: 2904

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    WMC 3220, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Two 300 division PHIL courses.



May be repeated for credit. Writing.


Selected Topics: Philosophy of Philosophy

[Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with PHIL 802.]

Philosophy has had a long history of questioning its own nature and methodologies. But where has that questioning taken it?  Is there anything yet agreed upon, even within our so-called ‘analytic’ tradition?  What is so special about Philosophy?  What does it contribute to the over-all Weltansicht?  This course offers an opportunity to reflect critically on the nature, methods, and questions of Philosophy in the twentieth century and up to the present.  If there can be Philosophy of Natural Science, Philosophy of Mathematics, Philosophy of Art, etc., then why not Philosophy of Philosophy? Timothy Williamson’s approach to this subject in our reading is modelled in part on philosophical approaches to non-philosophical disciplines, and is done in a very self-conscious way with respect to methodological issues.  Particular recent philosophical issues examined include vagueness, analyticity, truth, modality, conditionals, thought experiments, knowledge, on many of which he has of course previously published.  Does a coherent, unified, viable ‘self-image’ of Philosophy emerge from this exercise?    


This course may be applied towards the Writing Requirement (and the upper division Writing Requirement for Philosophy Majors).

The general aim of the course is to help students develop an up-to-date and well-informed, reflective, critical perspective on the nature and methods of Philosophy. 


  • 2 shorter papers (about 1800 words each,) worth 25% each 50%
  • A longer term paper (about 4500 words) 50%



The Philosophy of Philosophy, by Timothy Williamson, Blackwell/Wiley Pubs. (2008) ISBN: 978-1-4051-3396-8

Other related readings will be provided by the instructor.

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