Fall 2021 - PHIL 144 D100

Introduction to Philosophy of Science (3)

Class Number: 7519

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 10:20 AM
    AQ 3149, Burnaby

    Fr 9:30 AM – 10:20 AM
    AQ 3149, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 10, 2021
    1:00 PM – 1:00 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, 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 philosophy of science through a historical perspective. We will consider the trajectory of how science as we now think of it came to be, how 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, Galileo, and Newton and the creation of a framework for modern physics. We will look at the development of a scientific approach to biology and the central philosophical, scientific, and social issues surrounding developments in science such as Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. We will also look at the philosophical issues related to measurement and the development of new instrumentation, and the interconnection of applications of new scientific knowledge with abstract theoretical and conceptual innovations. Historical episodes will provide the jumping-off point to consider examples of the same issues in contemporary science, especially exoplanets and exobiology, 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.

Meet Dr. Holly Andersen and see a course presentation on YouTube: PHIL 144


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).


  • Completion of weekly online video material, readings, and small stakes quizzes 20%
  • Small stakes writing assignments for tutorials (including posting on Discussion boards) 15%
  • Paper #1 20%
  • Paper #2 20%
  • Final (non-timed written mid-length responses) 25%


Course delivery: One day per week (Wednesday) will be asynchronous, completed through Modules on Canvas each week, at student’s own pace, by the Wednesday class time. All tutorials and the Friday class session meet in person at the Burnaby campus.

All coursework will be submitted through the Canvas page, in addition to Turnitin for the paper assignments.

The final exam will be a take-home final, with mid-length essay answers to question prompts. A long list of the questions will be made available in the last week of term. The short list of final exam questions will be drawn only from that long list (in other words, no unexpected questions). Students will have three days in which to complete and submit the final exam.

This is not a W course but involves practice and refinement of writing skills. After successfully completing the course, students will be able to write concise, precise prose with philosophical analysis of both concrete and abstract ideas and themes related to science, the history of science, and methodology of science.


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.



All readings will be available through Canvas or the SFU Library portal.

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

New elective grade policy : P/CR/NC, pilot project for Spring/Summer/Fall 2021. List of exclusions for the new policy. Specifically for Philosophy: 

  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any requirement for a major, joint major, honours, or minor in Philosophy (with the exception of Honours tutorials).
  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any prerequisite requirement for any PHIL course.
  • Students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any requirement for the Ethics Certificate, or the Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate.
  • Philosophy Majors and Honours students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any WQB requirement.

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


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.