Spring 2023 - PHIL 421W D100

Advanced Topics in Ethical Theory (4)

Responding to Reasons

Class Number: 7169

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    WMC 2531, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Two 300-level PHIL courses; it is strongly recommended that students have taken some prior course in moral theory.



A highly focused, advanced examination of a selection of topics in normative or meta-ethics. May be repeated for credit. Writing.


Selected Topics: Responding to Reasons

[Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with PHIL 823 G100.]  

According to a popular conception of rationality, being rational is a matter of correctly responding to reasons. This course focuses on what correctly responding to reasons amounts to. Readings will cover material in contemporary metaethics and epistemology.


PHIL 421W 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.

The course is excellent preparation for: graduate school in philosophy, public policy degrees, law school, business school.

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Identify and reconstruct philosophical arguments
  • Write advanced-level philosophy papers
  • Conduct independent research
  • Engage with fundamental central issues in contemporary metaethics and epistemology


  • Weekly discussion questions (submitted prior to class) and in-class participation 20%
  • Paper proposal and bibliography 5%
  • Paper draft and peer review 5%
  • Final paper 70%



 All readings will be made freely available online.


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

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 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