Spring 2022 - PHIL 201 D100

Epistemology (3)

Class Number: 7317

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    BLU 10031, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 13, 2022
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    RCB 8100, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    One of PHIL 100W (or equivalent), 120W (or equivalent), 121, 144, 150, 151, or COGS 100.



A critical overview of recent accounts of the nature and scope of human knowledge and of justified or rational belief, and of philosophical issues that these accounts are intended to address. Students who have taken PHIL 301 cannot take this course for further credit.


This course is an introduction to epistemology (which is often defined as the “theory of knowledge”.) We will discuss epistemological issues both theoretical and practical, including:

  •  What is the difference between knowledge and opinion?
  •  What’s special about science?
  •  When should we trust experts, and how can we identify them?
  •  Are religious experiences a source of knowledge?
  •  Is there anything of which we can properly be certain?
  •  How is mathematical knowledge achieved?


PHIL 201 is a required course for the Philosophy Major and the Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate

  •  Students will learn about core questions in epistemology. This will serve as a foundation for more advanced philosophy courses, at the 300- and 400-level.
  •  Students will learn to think about epistemological issues as they arise in practice: in everyday life, in politics, and in other parts of philosophy.
  •  Students will develop their ability to read difficult philosophical texts critically. The readings will be longer and more challenging than those assigned at the 100-level.
  •  Students will develop their ability to write precisely and clearly.
  •  Students will develop their ability to analyze and evaluate arguments.


  • Weekly writing assignments, graded on a pass/fail basis 10%
  • Draft of first paper 10%
  • Final version of first paper 15%
  • Draft of second paper 10%
  • Final version of second paper 15%
  • Final exam 40%


Course delivery: In person

Attendance at the weekly seminars is required. Students should have access to a computer with which to access readings, and to submit assignments.



Jennifer Nagel, Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction

Oxford University Press

ISBN for physical book: 978-0-19-966126-8

ISBN for ebook: 978-0-19-163731-5

Students can access the book for free through the SFU library website.

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 2021 and Spring 2022. 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 spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this 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 spring 2022 term.