Summer 2018 - PHIL 455W D100

Contemporary Issues in Epistemology and Metaphysics (4)

Formal Epistemology

Class Number: 4623

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    WMC 3253, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Two 300 division PHIL courses.



May be repeated for credit. Writing.


Selected Topics: Formal Epistemology 

[Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with PHIL 815.]

Over the past decades, epistemology had become increasingly formalized, so much so that it is nowadays difficult to understand many current contributions and trends in the field without a basic understanding of its formal machinery—and this is the case, whether one favours a strictly formal, mainstream, or cognitive approach to epistemology. The main object of formal epistemology is to develop formal models that supports philosophical reasoning about how we form, transform, and transfer beliefs and knowledge. The three most common sets of formal techniques it uses are those of elementary (esp. Bayesian) probability theory, decision theory, and modal (doxastic and epistemic) logic. This course will be an advanced introduction to each sets of tools and to their philosophical applications.


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


  • Acquire a capacity to use elementary probability theory, decision theory, and modal logic.
  • Develop an ability to represent philosophical problems, positions, and situations with formal models.
  • Evaluate the strengths, limitations, and complementarity of formal modelling methods used in epistemology.


  • Participation (attendance and positive engagement) 5%
  • Leading class discussion 5%
  • Logic assignments (6) 30%
  • Research project: presentation -5%; peer review - 5%; final paper - 50% 60%



 The course material will be supplied in PDFs on Canvas.

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   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site 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.