Fall 2023 - PHIL 326 E100

Topics in Law and Philosophy (3)

Knowledge & Communication

Class Number: 5778

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Mon, 4:30–7:20 p.m.

    Oct 10, 2023: Tue, 4:30–7:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    One of PHIL 120, 120W, 121, 220, 221, 270, SDA 270, ENV 320W, or REM 320W.



Explores in detail classic problems in the law using the methods and resources of philosophy. Topics may include: problems in professional ethics facing lawyers; philosophical issues in international law and human rights; constitutional interpretation and the philosophy of language; the assessment of evidence and formal epistemology; the intellectual origins of the theory of natural law and natural rights; or others. Students may repeat this course for further credit under a different topic.


Topics in Law and Philosophy: Knowledge and Communication (Speech and Information)

Law-making and legal processes are constantly shaped by information and communication. In turn, the law regulates and influences what information we have and how we communicate. In fact, it’s common to defend particular speech and information policies by suggesting that they’re important for democracy. This course explores the relationship between knowledge, information, communication, and the law by considering questions like the following:

• What role should experts and scientists play in policy-making in a democracy?

• Can misinformation on social media be controlled while respecting freedom of speech?

• Can it be valuable for online platforms to allow anonymous speech?

• Does freedom of speech lead to better political decisions?


PHIL 326 may be applied towards the Certificate in Ethics: Theory and Application (see our website for more details). It is also one of the requried courses for the concentration in Law and Philosophy.

Course assignments will focus on helping students to analyze the arguments in course readings, to develop well-supported critiques of those arguments, and to defend those analyses in clearly written papers.


  • One 4-5 page paper 30%
  • One 8-10 page paper (preceded by a paper proposal; see below) 50%
  • Quality of Course Engagement (quality of written work in the paper proposal and in five, short, reading response exercises + quality of contributions to class discussion, + (optionally) quality of in-class reading worksheets) 20%



All readings will be available on the course’s Canvas page. There are no textbooks to purchase.


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.