Spring 2020 - PHIL 804 G100

Selected Topics in Philosophy of Science (5)


Class Number: 8209

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    WMC 5602, Burnaby



Selected Topics: Explanation 

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.

This course will consider several topics in contemporary philosophy of science, using the perspective of integrated history and philosophy of science. Readings will examine contemporary discussions related to causation, explanation, and particular sciences, and take a longer trajectory of historical readings leading up to and shedding light on those contemporary discussions. The focus will be to understand how we ended up in these current debates by 'backing up' and looking at major philosophical shifts and scientific developments that took us to the contemporary debate. By doing so, we will use discussion to examine ways in which the discussion might have gone another route, redirecting it towards a different way of setting up the problem that may offer different opportunities for making progress on those topics. The reading will be set up to let us use contemporary philosophical work to re-examine specific parts of history of philosophy, especially natural philosophy, and to use historical work to re-frame contemporary discussions in philosophy of science.

Students may take this course to fulfill either a History distribution requirement, or a Metaphysics and Epistemology distributions requirement, but not both. Students must declare at the start of term which area requirement they will take the course for, and will prepare their research project in that area.

This course will meet once per week and be discussion-intensive.


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

This course is graduate-only, and will focus on the development of professional research skills in philosophy.


  • Students will be graded on their research projects. This will include:
  • 1) development of an annotated bibliography
  • 2) submission of a detailed two page outline of their proposed term paper
  • 3) presentation of their work in progress
  • 4) comments provided to other students in an exchange of full drafts at the end of term
  • 5) the submission of a polished term paper at the end of term.
  • This course is graduate-only, and will focus on the development of professional research skills in philosophy.



All readings will be made available on Canvas or through the Library journal subscription services.

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