Spring 2021 - PHIL 341 D100

Philosophy of Science (3)

Class Number: 2207

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 10:30 AM – 11:20 AM

    Th 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 20, 2021
    12:00 PM – 12:00 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Either one of: PHIL 201 or 203; or both of PHIL 100W (or equivalent) and COGS 200.



A study of the nature of scientific enquiry, classificatory systems, laws and theories, the role of observation in science, the demarcation between science and non-science, causality, the status of theoretical constructs, and teleological explanation.


This course will focus on several issues central to contemporary philosophy of science.. Our goal will be an in-depth understanding of several core areas of current discussion. What form do explanations take, and are there genuine differences among kinds of explanations given by different sciences, or among types of explanations such as causal versus mathematical? What do idealizations and abstractions in scientific models mean for the prospects of a realist understanding of them? What is the nature of natural laws, and are there differences between more and less fundamental laws? How do new developments in fields such as exobiology change our understanding of life on Earth, and how do the measurement techniques we deploy to check for life shape the range of possible organisms we thereby could discover? And how should recent developments in social epistemology shape philosophy of science and its approach to science? What does epistemic injustice look like, in a specifically scientific context? How do broader dynamics of prejudice and bias manifest in the settings in which scientists work, and in the content of the discoveries and theories themselves? These are examples of the topics for this term.



PHIL 341 may be applied towards the Certificate in Philosophy and Methodology of Science


  • Papers 60%
  • Weekly responses to readings 20%
  • Weekly online discussion posts 20%


Course delivery: remote, synchronous. Online presence is required during scheduled lecture time. This means both audio and video capability, and the expectation that cameras are turned on.



Students must have access to internet and a computer/other device that permits streaming video, word processing and teleconferencing with Zoom. This includes both audio and video participation from each student.


All readings will be made available in PDF form through Canvas, or are available through the Library’s journal subscriptions.

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).