Fall 2023 - PHIL 144 D100

Introduction to Philosophy of Science (3)

Class Number: 5801

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Mon, 2:30–3:20 p.m.

    Oct 10, 2023: Tue, 2:30–3:20 p.m.

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Thu, 2:30–4:20 p.m.



An introduction to philosophical issues concerning the nature of science. Topics to be discussed include the distinction between science and pseudo-science, the nature of scientific method, the nature of explanation in the natural and social sciences, the phenomenon of scientific change, the relationship between scientific theory and observation, and the objectivity of social science. Students with credit for PHIL 244 may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities/Sciences.


The aim of this course is to introduce students to central themes, major threads, and recent developments within the philosophy of science over the past century or so. We examine questions such as: what is/ought to be the goal and methodology of science and why does it matter? In what way does science describe the world and what does that world look like, now that we’ve spent quite a few centuries trying to describe it? What role might philosophy (and history, and sociology) play in science?


PHIL 144 may be applied towards the Certificate in Philosophy and Methodology of Science, and the Breadth-Humanities Requirement OR the Breadth-Science Requirement (but not both; student can choose which Breadth requirement to satisfy and plan enrollment in other courses accordingly).


  • Weekly group discussions (4% x 8 = 32%): every Monday, students work in groups to discuss and complete a worksheet about reading & lecture from the previous week. Worksheets are graded on completion (with a genuine effort). Aside from week 0 where there is no discussion, each student is allowed 2 unexcused absences. 32%
  • Short assignments (10% x 4 = 40%): they are < 3 pages long (1.5 line spacing) and designed to ask you to apply the concepts learned in class to new examples. Assignments are due at 10pm on the due day. 40%
  • Midterm exam: mostly long answers. There is no final exam. 28%



Theory and Reality (2nd edition) by Peter Godfrey-Smith, ISBN: 9780226618654


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

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 philcomm@sfu.ca   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.