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Metaphysics


Module Code: PI3017

Module Name: Metaphysics

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Semester/Term Taught: Hilary Term
  • Contact Hours: 22 hours of lecture
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Dr. James Miller (email)

Module Content

For many, ontology lies at the heart of metaphysics. Central to ontology is the attempt to articulate the most general categories of being (for example, substance, properties, events, kinds). As such, ontology must provide a systematic account of the ways in which entities belong to these different categories, how these categories are related, and provide an account of the nature of the entities that fall under those categories. For example, how should we understand properties? Are properties dispositional or categorical? This module focuses on these issues within ontology, and related issues within a broader metaphysical picture, such as how fundamental ontology connects with questions of causation, laws, kinds, and levels of being. For example, how we account for properties will greatly influence what answers are available to other metaphysical questions. In this module we will consider both theoretical questions in ontology, and how these relate to more applied topic in metaphysics.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Provide a background in modern metaphysics and ontology, conceived as a study of the most fundamental structure of reality.
  • Name, discriminate and where possible define the principal concepts surrounding ontological debates, and how they relate to broader metaphysical questions.
  • Present reasons and arguments for and against these positions, and to assess where these might be in tension with our natural intuitions on certain topics.
  • Understand the need for a connected account across a number of metaphysical questions, and be able to evaluate theories in relation to this criterion.

Suggested Preliminary Reading

  • E. J. Lowe, 2002, A Survey of Metaphysics (OUP). Ch. 19.
  • S. Mumford and M. Tugby, 2013, 'What Is the Metaphysics of Science?' in Metaphysics and Science, Mumford and Tugby (eds.), OUP