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Module Code: PI8005

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Lecturer: Prof. Alison Fernandes
  • Contact Hours: 22

Module Outline
In this module, we’ll explore metaphysical questions relating to freedom and time. Are we free if scientific laws determine what we do? Why do we control the future and not the past? Do metaphysical views about time explain the openness of the future—or should asymmetries of time and control be explained in scientific terms? We’ll examine the work of a number of contemporary philosophers who use the challenge of reconciling science with metaphysics to develop radically new ideas about time, agency and the relations between them. Authors and topics to be considered include Jenann Ismael on how ‘epistemic freedom’ explains the apparent openness of the future, Huw Price on how causation depends on taking the perspective of agents, and Craig Callender on how psychology explains the apparent specialness of the present. Through exploring this work, students will develop their own views about time, freedom, and agency, the aspirations of philosophy, and the role of science in philosophical theorising.


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

  • Explain metaphysical accounts of time and freedom, and assess their compatibility with contemporary science.
  • Discuss and critically evaluate recent revisionist conceptions of time, freedom and their relation.
  • Argue for their own views about how to reconcile our experience of time and freedom with a scientific view of the world.
  • Express their views about the role of science and experience in philosophical theorising.

Suggested Preliminary Reading

Zimmerman, Dean W. 2008. ‘The Privileged Present: Defending an “A-Theory” of Time’. In Theodore Sider, John Hawthorne & DeanW. Zimmerman (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics. Blackwell. pp. 211—225.

PhD students will be required to write one substantial essay (3,000-4,000 words). Students should confirm the essay title with their lecturer.