Spring 2020 - PHIL 802 G100

Selected Topics in Epistemology (5)

Social Epistemology

Class Number: 9039

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

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



Selected Topics: Social Epistemology

[Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with PHIL 455W.]

Important note regarding enrollment: All seats are reserved for Philosophy Graduate students. Enrollments from other departments will be considered only upon submission of the Graduate Course Add Form, and with instructor's permission. All such enrollments will be done in or after the first week of classes.

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. Otherpeople 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.




Successful completion of this course will satisfy the “Metaphysics and Epistemology” distribution requirement toward the MA degree for Philosophy graduate students.


  • 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%
  • One in-class presentation on a reading



All materials will be made available by the instructor.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

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