Fall 2020 - PHIL 144 D100

Introduction to Philosophy of Science (3)

Class Number: 3914

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:




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.


This course will provide an introduction to philosophy of science through a historical perspective. We will consider the trajectory of how science as we now think of it came to be, how new ideas and new technologies transformed major worldviews into what we now recognize as the beginnings of modern science. The historical part of this course will begin with the physics of Aristotle, look at important episodes in the development of science such as the work of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton and the creation of a framework for modern physics. We will look at the development of a scientific approach to biology and the central philosophical, scientific, and social issues surrounding developments in science such as Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. We will also look at the philosophical issues related to measurement and the development of new instrumentation, and the interconnection of applications of new scientific knowledge with abstract theoretical and conceptual innovations. Historical episodes will provide the jumping-off point to consider examples of the same issues in contemporary science and the role of new technologies driving advances in human knowledge and changes to our understanding of our place in the cosmos.

The writing assignments in this course will be oriented towards improving the precision and conciseness of student writing.

Meet Dr. Holly Andersen and see a course presentation on YouTube: PHIL 144


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).

This is not a W course but involves practice and refinement of writing skills. After successfully completing the course, students will be able to write concise, precise prose with philosophical analysis of both concrete and abstract ideas and themes related to science, the history of science, and methodology of science.


  • Completion of weekly online video material, readings, and small stakes quizzes 25%
  • Small stakes writing assignments for tutorials 15%
  • Paper #1 15%
  • Paper #2 20%
  • Final (non-timed written mid-length responses) 25%


Lecture delivery: remote, asynchronous (recorded content). Synchronous Q&A Tuesdays, 10:30AM – 12:20PM Pacific Standard Time
Tutorial delivery: remote, synchronous.  Online presence is required during scheduled tutorial time. 

There will be weekly deadlines for completion of online asynchronous material.


Written work for this course will be submitted via Turnitin, a third party service licensed for use by SFU. Turnitin is used for originality checking to help detect plagiarism. Students will be required to create an account with Turnitin, and to submit their work via that account, on the terms stipulated in the agreement between the student and Turnitin. This agreement includes the retention of your submitted work as part of the Turnitin database. Any student with a concern about using the Turnitin service may opt to use an anonymous identity in their interactions with Turnitin. Students who do not intend to use Turnitin in the standard manner must notify the instructor at least two weeks in advance of any submission deadline. In particular, it is the responsibility of any student using the anonymous option (i.e. false name and temporary e-mail address created for the purpose) to inform the instructor such that the instructor can match up the anonymous identity with the student.



Students will require a sufficiently stable internet connection plus a microphone and low-grade camera (such as comes standard on laptops and smart phones) for synchronous tutorial participation. Students must be able to download and read the electronic materials, watch the online videos, and complete the online quizzes each week.


Birth of a New Physics, I. Bernard Cohen,
ISBN-13: 978-0393300451
ISBN-10: 0393300455

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

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site 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


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote 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. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).