Summer 2022 - PHIL 343 D100

Topics in the Philosophy of Mind (3)

Philosophy of Perception

Class Number: 4015

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    AQ 3150, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 14, 2022
    11:59 PM – 11:59 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 theories of the mind, consciousness, and human action. Students may repeat this course for further credit under a different topic.


Selected Topics: Philosophy of Perception

(Note: students that have taken the Summer 2015 offering of PHIL 332 with the same topic, or PHIL 343 with the same topic, may NOT take this course for further credit. It will be considered a repeat.) 

Perception has been a major topic for philosophers since the pre-Socratics.  There have been three central issues where accounts of perception have played a crucial role.
  1. Intentionality: How does our mind represent the world?  What is it for a thought to be about something?  Perception has played a foundational role in the account of intentionality.  All our thoughts about the world have at their core, or are grounded in, some states of seeing, hearing, tasting etc.  At the same time, perceptions themselves are, on the face of it, representations of things around us. Or do they, rather, provide a direct window onto the world rather than represent it? And what are the details of either of these accounts?
  2. Epistemology: All of our knowledge about things around is surely based on perceptions of it. It has long been the hope of philosophers that the answer to skepticism about the external world must be found in some facts about our own perceptions that we could not be wrong about.  But are there any such facts?
  3. Consciousness: Although we are undoubtedly conscious when we have other mental states (as I am conscious of thinking about what to write here, for example),  for various reasons perceptual consciousness has been the central puzzle case philosophers have addressed.  Present day philosophers are often happy to concede that thought, and the cognitive content of perceptions, may or may not be conscious.  But there seems to be something basic about what it is like to smell a rose.  Can the quality of that smell be accounted for by our scientific methods?
We will look at some of the history of both the philosophy and the science of perception to see how some of these questions might be answered.


  • A multiple-choice in-class quiz on general philosophy of mind 10%
  • Three short reading summaries @ 10% each 30%
  • A cca 2000-word paper on an assigned or chosen topic 35%
  • Take-home final 25%



All readings and other materials will be made available on Canvas.

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   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

New elective grade policy : P/CR/NC, pilot project in place from Spring 2021 to Summer 2023. 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 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.


Teaching at SFU in summer 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction.  Some courses may be offered through alternative methods (remote, online, blended), and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes. 

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, online, or blended courses 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 ( or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the summer 2022 term.