Fall 2019 - PHIL 144 D100

Introduction to Philosophy of Science (3)

Class Number: 4702

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 3153, Burnaby



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.


This course will provide an introduction to issues surrounding the history and philosophy of the sciences. We will consider the trajectory of how science as we now think of it came to be, where new ideas and new technologies transformed major worldviews into what we now recognize as the beginnings of modern science. The historical part of this course will begin with the physics of Aristotle, look at important episodes in the development of science such as the work of Copernicus and Galileo, and conclude with Newton and the creation of a framework for modern physics. We will also look at the philosophical issues related to measurement and methodology in the development of new instrumentation, and the interconnection of this with theoretical and conceptual innovations. These historical episodes will provide the jumping-off point to consider examples of the same conceptual issues in contemporary science and the role of new technologies. driving advances in human knowledge and changes to our understanding of our place in the cosmos. The writing assignments in this course will be oriented towards improving the precision and conciseness of student writing.


PHIL 144 may be applied towards the Certificate in Philosophy and Methodology of Science, 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).


  • Three Written Papers (25%, 25%, 30%) 80%
  • Tutorial small stakes assignments 20%


The last written paper will be due during the final exam period in lieu of a sit-down exam.


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.



Birth of a New Physics, I. Bernard Cohen
ISBN: 978-0393300451

Inventing Temperature, Hasok Chang
ISBN: 978-0195337389

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 philmgr@sfu.ca   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/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