Spring 2022 - PHIL 341 D100

Philosophy of Science (3)

Class Number: 7382

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    RCB 7100, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Simon Pollon
    Office: WMC 5655
  • 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.


Science is often believed to rely upon a singular, unchanging method that is also the best method with which to investigate the nature of the world around us. To see this, consider the way in which news outlets report new findings by researchers as definitive and undisputed; or consider how science is presented by popular science authors and speakers (like Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Neil deGrasse Tyson among others) as the bastion of rationality and objectivity regarding what is really true about our world.

This picture of science is, to put it conservatively, somewhat idealized.

The sciences are complicated human social endeavors that consist of social institutions, norms of practice, and varying accepted methodologies for producing results—or from some points of view: truth. In this course, we will examine a number of Philosophical works interrogating these institutions, norms, and methods for generating results—both in terms of how consensus, or agreement, is generated among working scientists within a field and in terms of what is taken to be ‘true’ as a result (and how some of these ‘truths’ may be fictive). We will begin our course with Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. His model of the adoption of scientific theories, their entrenchment, and then their rejection and replacement by new theoretical frameworks as a result of ‘Revolutions’ within a scientific field will serve as a framework for our discussions as we progress throughout the term.



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


  • Short Assignments 50%
  • Final Paper 35%
  • Attendance/Participation: based upon contributions to class discussion and attendance at lecture 15%


Course delivery: in person.


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.



Thomas S. Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition. ISBN-13 : 978-0226458120

Paul Feyerabend. Against Method. ISBN-13 : 978-1844674428

Other Readings will be made available digitally or by Library Reserve.

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.