Spring 2021 - PHIL 100W D100

Knowledge and Reality (3)

Class Number: 2153

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 20, 2021
    11:00 PM – 11:00 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby



An introduction to some of the central problems of philosophy. Topics to be discussed include the different theories of reality; the nature and sources of knowledge, truth, evidence, and reason; the justification of belief and knowledge about the universe. These topics and problems will be considered as they arise in the context of issues such as: relativism versus absolutism; the existence of God; personal identity; the nature of the mind and its relation to the body; free will and determinism; the possibility of moral knowledge. Open to all students. Students with credit for PHIL 100 may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


  • Do we know anything for certain?
  • Does God exist?
  • If God does exist, why does He permit so much suffering?
  • Is a human being a purely physical system? Or do you have a non-physical component too – a mind or soul?
  • Do you have free will?
  • What is the difference between right and wrong?

In this course, we will debate some of the biggest philosophical questions, including those above.


This course has three main goals, which are equally weighted:

  1. Students will develop their writing skills. In particular, students will practice writing in a clear and precise way about complex topics.
  2. Students will develop their analytical skills. In particular, students will practice analyzing and evaluating arguments.
  3. Students will learn about different philosophical views.
PHIL 100W may be applied towards the Writing Requirement, and the Breadth-Humanities Requirement.
Videos: Why Study Philosophy? and Meet Our Professors!


  • Attendance and participation in tutorials (score to be determined by your TA) 10%
  • Weekly writing assignments, graded on a pass/fail basis 10%
  • Paper 1 25%
  • Paper 2 30%
  • Take-home final exam (Apr. 13-20) 25%


Students will be required to attend tutorials using Zoom, at the scheduled time. Students may also wish to attend a weekly discussion on Zoom with the instructor, held at 14:30 on Tuesdays. Recorded lectures will be provided for students to watch at any time.


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.



Students must have access to the internet and a computer or other device that permits streaming video, word processing and teleconferencing with Zoom.


Philosophy: Asking Questions — Seeking Answers
Stephen Stich and Tom Donaldson
An online version is available through the SFU bookstore

ISBN: 9780199329960

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


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges 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. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).