Summer 2023 - PHIL 100W D100

Knowledge and Reality (3)

Class Number: 2786

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 8 – Aug 4, 2023: Mon, 2:30–4:20 p.m.



An introduction to some of the central problems of philosophy. Topics to be discussed include the different theories of reality; the nature and sources of knowledge, truth, evidence, and reason; the justification of belief and knowledge about the universe. These topics and problems will be considered as they arise in the context of issues such as: relativism versus absolutism; the existence of God; personal identity; the nature of the mind and its relation to the body; free will and determinism; the possibility of moral knowledge. Open to all students. Students with credit for PHIL 100 or PHIL 300 may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


The scope of philosophical inquiry is virtually unlimited – and far too broad to cover in its entirety in a single course. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the project and methods of philosophy by examining a series of questions related to a single broad theme: persons.

We shall begin by asking: what is a person? Is this notion biological? Metaphysical? Moral? Is personhood a matter of being conscious? Or is it a matter of possessing freedom of the will? Could non-human animals be persons? What about sophisticated robots?

We shall then turn to interrelated questions that concern the nature of the self and the survival of persons over time. Could I survive total amnesia as the same person? Would it be possible for me to exist in another body? What can mental illness teach us about the nature of the self and survival? Is there even any self that could survive over time?

Finally, we will close by turning to questions concerning the value of persons and the meaning of life. Do persons possess a right to life? If they do, does it follow that it is always wrong to end their lives? Does the innocence of a person’s life matter? How can we live meaningful lives? Aren’t we just tiny meaningless specks in a vast universe?


PHIL 100W may be applied towards the Writing Requirement, and the Breadth-Humanities Requirement.
Videos:  Why Study Philosophy? and Meet Our Professors!


  • The Levels – up to 5 short written assignments 30%
  • One 1200 – 1500 word term paper 35%
  • Midterm 35%


Written work for this course will be submitted via Turnitin, a third party service licensed for use by SFU. Turnitin is used for originality checking to help detect plagiarism. Students will be required to create an account with Turnitin, and to submit their work via that account, on the terms stipulated in the agreement between the student and Turnitin. This agreement includes the retention of your submitted work as part of the Turnitin database. Any student with a concern about using the Turnitin service may opt to use an anonymous identity in their interactions with Turnitin. Students who do not intend to use Turnitin in the standard manner must notify the instructor at least two weeks in advance of any submission deadline. In particular, it is the responsibility of any student using the anonymous option (i.e. false name and temporary e-mail address created for the purpose) to inform the instructor such that the instructor can match up the anonymous identity with the student.



Perry, A Dialogue Concerning Personal Identity and Immortality. ISBN: 978-0915144532

All other readings will be made available by the instructor on Canvas or through the SFU Library website.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

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   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 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.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.