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Topics in Metaphysics and Epistemology (PH997)

This year, the module focuses on topics in ,. The two key topics are the metaphysics of substances, (things like particular humans, trees and dogs) and the metaphysics of processes or activities, (walking, running, drawing).

We will begin by looking at the neo-Aristotelian substance ontology developed by David Wiggins in a series of papers over the last two decades. We will then look in detail at a question that is vigorously contested in recent metaphysics, concerning whether material substances ‘endure’, (whether they are ‘wholly present’ at any time they exist), or whether they ‘perdure’, (whether, like a particular event of walking to the shops they are ‘spread out over time’ or have ‘temporal parts’ over time).

We will then go on to consider a number of questions concerning the nature of process, including the similarities and differences between processes, on the one hand, and substances and events on the other. Do processes like walking or running ‘endure’ over time, like substances on the endurantist conception? Is this what the difference between processes and events consists in? If not, what is the difference, if any, between processes and events?

We will go on to look more at a recent debate in the metaphysics literature that invites us to reflect closely on whether notions of ‘endurance’ and ‘perdurance’, as described above, are well enough understood to frame debates about persistence over time. We will reflect on the way that questions about the nature of substances and processes may require understanding of the relation between substances and processes. I will be trying to persuade you that both of these categories have to be understood together.

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Module Director:

Tom Crowther

CATS

This module is worth 20 or 30 CATS depending on your programme of study.