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Metaphysics (PH251-15)

Timing & CATS

This module will run in the Autumn Term of 2017-18 and is worth 15 CATS

Module Description

Metaphysics is the study of the fundamental nature of reality. Central questions in metaphysics concern what the most basic kinds of entities are, and what the essential characteristics of things in those kinds are. Traditional topics of metaphysical enquiry include the nature of space, time, material objects, change, properties and events. Representative questions addressed on this module include whether a statue is distinct from the matter that constitutes it, what it is for a material object to remain identical through change, and whether any time other than the present moment exists.

Learning Outcomes or Aims

By the end of the module the student should be able to:

  1. understand, analyse and apply key theoretical approaches in contemporary metaphysics, and explain the issues at stake in debates between them.
  2. identify and assess different argumentative strategies used in metaphysics to address specific questions, and articulate central theoretical concepts that inform different answers to those questions;
  3. develop and defend their own judgement about competing views in metaphysics, and express themselves clearly and with precision;
  4. recognize the distinctive contributions that various quite different approaches make to philosophical argument in metaphysics, and the challenge of integrating these different contributions; arrive at a defensible conception of the nature of metaphysics itself.

Contact Time

In this module students must attend 2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of seminars per week

Lectures for 2017-18

Thursday 3pm to 5pm in OC0.04

There will be no lectures during reading week (week 6)

Seminars for 2017-18

Seminars start in week 2

There will be no seminars during reading week (week 6)

Please sign up for a seminar group using Tabula.

Assessment Method

This module will be assessed in the following way:

  • One 1,500-word essay (worth 15% of the module)
  • One 2,500-word essay (worth 85% of the module)

Essays should be submitted to Tabula in line with the essay deadlines schedule.

There will also be short weekly writing assignments.

Background Reading and Textbooks

The following collections of articles each contain material relevant to the course. The first is particularly highly recommended:

  • J. Kim, D. Z. Korman, and E. Sosa. (2012), Metaphysics: An Anthology. London, Blackwell.
  • M. J. Loux, (2008). Metaphysics: Contemporary Readings (2nd ed.). London, Routledge.
  • P. Van Inwagen and D. Zimmerman, (2008), Metaphysics: The Big Questions. Oxford, Blackwell.

The following introductory texts are also helpful:

  • J. Tallant, (2011), Metaphysics: An Introduction. London, Continuum.
  • N. Effingham, (2013), An Introduction to Ontology. Cambridge, Polity.
  • M. Rea (2014), Metaphysics: The Basics. London, Routledge.
  • M.J. Loux (2006), Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction, 3rd ed. London, Routledge.
  • E. J. Lowe, (2002), A Survey of Metaphysics. Oxford, O.U.P.

Further readings will be provided with the unassessed and assessed essay titles, and in weekly lecture material.

Course Materials

From October 2016 course materials will be available on Moodle. Simply sign in and select the module from your Moodle home page.