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PI7104 Metaphysics 2021/22

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Semester/Term Taught: Hilary Term
  • Contact Hours: 11 x 2-hour seminars; 4 supervision hours
  • Module Personnel: Professor John Divers

Module Content

The metaphysical concern with being, at its most general, naturally includes questions of what there is and how things are. But what of the modal questions? What things could there have been, would there have been, or must be? How could things have been, how would they have been or how must they be? Modal realists hold that modality is real, while modal antirealists do not. Against some prior historical background, we investigate the debate between modal realists and their opponents as it has developed over the last 100 years, from the time of logical positivism to the present day, covering the work of: Quine, Kripke, Lewis, Williamson, Fine, Blackburn and others.

Learning Aims

The aim of this module is to provide students with subject specific knowledge and to equip them with the necessary skills for independent research.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Understand the main positions of modal realism and modal anti-realism
  • Construct arguments for metaphysical views they wish to defend and criticize arguments for metaphysical views they wish to reject.
  • Take an informed view of where they stand on the question of modal realism
  • Identify the main problems that are faced by their preferred view


  • 1 Essay: 3000 WORDS 100% 

The word count includes footnotes but it does not include the bibliography. Essays that go over the limit will be liable for a 5 mark deduction.

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the seminar series.