Fall 2023 - PHIL 455W E100

Contemporary Issues in Epistemology and Metaphysics (4)

Social Epistemology

Class Number: 5747

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Oct 6, 2023: Tue, 4:30–7:20 p.m.

    Oct 11 – Dec 5, 2023: Tue, 4:30–7:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Two 300-division PHIL courses.



May be repeated for credit. Writing.


Topic: Social Epistemology

 [Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with PHIL 802.]

This is an advanced course on current issues in political epistemology. Our starting point will be the epistemology of democracy, as well as public information exchange and collective decision-making more broadly. Further topics might include the phenomenon of “belief polarization,” the role of media (including social media), the commodification and politicization of expertise, and the potential pitfalls of “doing your own research.”

The format of the course will be a bit experimental and open-ended. In particular, there's a good chance that some readings will be drawn from the instructor’s own work in progress. Other readings will be weighted toward contemporary discussions but might also include some classic sources for reference.

Please note that this is a research-oriented seminar: it is expected that every student will make regular contributions to classroom discussion and to the online discussion board. They will also be required to frame their own original research project (with input from instructor) and to make a brief presentation of this project during class.


PHIL 455W may be applied towards the Writing Requirement (and the upper division Writing Requirement for Philosophy Majors).

This course may be repeated for credit if the topic is different.


  • Participation: regular contributions to in-class discussion 5%
  • Weekly discussion questions submitted to Canvas prior to class 10%
  • Provision of peer feedback on term paper drafts from two other students 10%
  • Final term paper, including first draft and revisions in light of peer feedback 60%
  • In-class presentation of research project (roughly 10 minutes, plus discussion) 15%



All readings are available online, or will be supplied by the instructor.


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.