Spring 2021 - PHIL 345W D100

Philosophy of Mathematics (3)

Class Number: 2247

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 21, 2021
    11:00 PM – 11:00 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    One of PHIL 110, 210, 314, 315 or MACM 101; and one of PHIL 100W, 201 or 203.



Examines central philosophical issues related to mathematics. Topics may include the metaphysical status of mathematical entities, mathematical knowledge, set theory and others. Writing.


We will study the great foundational questions in mathematics, including:

  • Are our mathematical theories compatible with physicalism?
  • Do we really know that our mathematical theories are logically consistent?
  • Are mathematical truths a priori?
  • Are there mathematical truths that are unknowable in principle?
  • Does classical logic require reform?

We will read works by great philosophers including Bertrand Russell, and great mathematicians including David Hilbert and Kurt Gödel.


This course may be applied towards the Writing Requirement. 

  • Students will learn to think philosophically about the foundational questions in mathematics.
  • Students will practice reading difficult philosophical texts.
  • Students will practice writing clearly about complex and subtle topics.
  • Students will think about the history of mathematics, focusing on the ways in which mathematical practice has changed over time.


  • Short weekly writing assignments, graded on a pass/fail basis 10%
  • Three longer writing assignments (20% each) 60%
  • A final, take-home exam (Apr. 14-21) 30%


Course delivery: remote, synchronous. Online presence is required during scheduled lecture time.



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



Readings will be made available on Canvas. No books need to be purchased.

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).