Spring 2021 - PHIL 803 G100

Selected Topics in Metaphysics (5)

Metaphysics of Social Reality

Class Number: 5826

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    AQ 2104, Burnaby



Selected Topics: The Metaphysics of Social Reality

[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.

In this course, we will use tools from metaphysics to examine the nature of a wide range of social entities and phenomena. Topics to be discussed include the metaphysics of social kinds, like gender, race, and disability; the metaphysics of social groups, like hockey teams and Arcade Fire; and the metaphysics of social entities like restaurants and provinces.


Successful completion of this course will satisfy the “M&E Stream” distribution requirement toward the MA degree for Philosophy graduate students.


  • Weekly summaries/discussion questions 20%
  • Presentations 10%
  • Paper outline 10%
  • Workshop 10%
  • Final paper 50%


Course delivery: remote, synchronous. Online presence is required during scheduled time.

There will also be 3 in-person discussions/workshops at the Burnaby campus, so that graduate students present their research to each other. Face to face meetings also help facilitate the kind of cohort building that is crucial to the success of a small graduate program.  Students who cannot attend face to face can connect via Zoom to attend these workshops. There will also be additional remote workshops for students who cannot attend face to face to present their work. 

The in-person workshops will follow a prescribed safety plan (physical distancing, masks, disinfection of space; people with any Covid-19 symptoms will be asked to stay home and connect via Zoom).



Students must have access to internet and a computer/other device that permits streaming video, word processing and teleconferencing with Zoom.


All readings will be available through Canvas.

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


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 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).