Spring 2020 - PHIL 455W D100

Contemporary Issues in Epistemology and Metaphysics (4)

Social Epistemology

Class Number: 9038

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 1:20 PM
    WMC 5602, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Two 300 division PHIL courses.



May be repeated for credit. Writing.


Selected Topics: Social Epistemology  

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

Important: Students that have taken PHIL 467W in Fall 2015 may not take PHIL 455W in Spring 2020 for further credit.

Most of traditional epistemology is decidedly individualistic in focus: it is primarily concerned with how we can deploy our various individual capacities – such as perception, memory, or inference – to justify our beliefs and generate knowledge. Other people really don’t figure in the picture at all. One of the most exciting developments in recent analytic philosophy is the emergence of social epistemology as a serious and distinctive field of study. In contrast to the traditional approach, social epistemology studies the acquisition, dissemination, and significance of human knowledge in social contexts. This class will introduce students to some of the central current debates in this field. Among our questions will be when and how we can appeal to the authority of others in forming our beliefs, how we should adjust our beliefs in light of the fact that others disagree with us, and how bias and prejudice may seep into the fabric of social knowledge. We will also be concerned with the intersection of morality and epistemology.


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.

Note for this offering: students that have taken PHIL 467W in Fall 2015 may not take PHIL 455W in Spring 2020 for further credit.


  • Weekly Discussion questions (submitted prior to class) and in-class participation 15%
  • Final term paper, with revisions 80%
  • Provision of peer feedback on term paper drafts 5%






 All materials will be made available by the instructor.

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