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PI7104 Metaphysics 2020/21

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Semester/Term Taught: Michaelmas Term
  • Contact Hours:11 x 2-hour seminars; 4 supervision hours; 174 hours of independent study
  • Module Personnel: Dr Alison Fernandes

Module Content

In this module, students will explore contemporary issues in metaphysics, with a view to developing their own ideas about the nature and purpose of metaphysics. Metaphysics presents itself as the study of the most fundamental. It promises to provide a guide to reality at its most objective and deepest level. Yet debate over particular topics often involves quite different appeals to science, experience, intuition and explanation. In this module, we’ll examine metaphysical debates about topics such as laws, causation, time, chance, and modality, consider what standards are driving these debates, and in what sense these debates are substantive. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to develop their own thinking on the purpose of metaphysics, as well as that of philosophy more broadly.

Learning Outcomes

The aim of this module is to provide students with subject specific knowledge and to equip them with the necessary skills for independent research. On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Analyse and evaluate contemporary debates in metaphysics.
  • Develop arguments concerning the role and purpose of metaphysics.
  • Present their ideas in a clear and rigorous way both orally and in writing.
  • Produce independent research that engages with contemporary literature and demonstrates original thinking on metaphysical issues.

Assessment Details

  • 1 PRESENTATION WORTH 20% OF MODULE
  • 1 ESSAY WORTH 80% OF MODULE (3,000 words) Students must attach a cover sheet to all Philosophy essays.

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.

Students may request an extension by contacting the MPhil Coordinator Dr Ben White.

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.

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

Assessment

  • 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.