Fall 2022 - PHIL 315 D100

Formal Methods (3)

Class Number: 7735

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 1:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    WMC 3253, Burnaby

    Fr 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    WMC 3255, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 19, 2022
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    WMC 3210, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    One of: PHIL 110, 210, 310, 314, MACM 101, BUEC 232, BUS 232, or STAT 270.



A survey of formal methods used in philosophy. Topics will include some of the following: propositional logic, predicate logic, formal syntax, formal semantics, the probability calculus, decision theory, game theory and formal causal modeling. Students with credit for COGS 315 cannot take this course for further credit.


[Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with COGS 315.]

This course expands upon the traditional training in logic typical of philosophy education. The latter half of the 20th century saw the emergence of a breadth of formal methods in the practice of analytic philosophy. Students will survey such methods, including modal logic, formal semantics and syntax theory, theories of conditionals, probability and utility theory, game and decision theory, social choice theory, and elementary statistics. While the motivations behind the course stem from philosophical practice, many of the topics surveyed are relevant to research in cognitive science, particularly for studies of natural language and rational decision-making.


  • Six problem sets (13.33% each) 80%
  • Final exam, in-person 20%


The problem sets may be completed in groups of up to four students, which the students may form freely. Groups submit a single copy of the problem set, and each student in the group receives the same grade.

Students will take the final exam individually, in person.



All course materials will be made available through Canvas.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

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

New elective grade policy : P/CR/NC, pilot project in place from Spring 2021 to Summer 2023. List of exclusions for the new policy. Specifically for Philosophy: 

  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any requirement for a major, joint major, honours, or minor in Philosophy (with the exception of Honours tutorials).
  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any prerequisite requirement for any PHIL course.
  • Students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any requirement for the Ethics Certificate, or the Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate.
  • Philosophy Majors and Honours students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any WQB requirement.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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