You are on page 1of 3

1:730:215 Introduction to Metaphysics Fall 2010 Instructor: Pavel Davydov I.

Course Description and General Information This is an introductory survey of general metaphysics. Major topics include realism, ontology, universals and particulars, abstract objects, identity and individuation, modality, time, space, and causation. One of the major aims is to equip students with tools they can apply to rigorous thinking about a wide variety of philosophical topics, including many outside of metaphysics proper. The class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:10-2:30PM. My email is Please dont hesitate to write me if you have any questions. My office hours are BY APPOINTMENT ONLY, in 1 Seminary Pl., room 001. Here are some important dates: September 2nd: First Meeting of the Class September 13th: Penalties for Missing Class Begin October 14th: Mid-Term Exam November 18th: First Paper Due November 25th: No Class Thanksgiving Break December 7th: Second Paper Due December 9th: Last Meeting of the Class

Please make sure you plan your semester accordingly.

II. Required Readings You need to purchase a copy of: Lowe, E. J. (2002). A Survey of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.

It should be available at the university bookstore. The rest of the readings come from a free online source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (

It is an outstanding and ever-growing collection of survey articles on various philosophical topics, written by experts. (NB: Many of these articles have parts that are quite technical. Dont let that intimidate you! Ill specify which parts you need to read and provide

background that should help you with whatever difficulties remain.)

III. Assignments and Grading You must write two papers (5-6 pages each), selecting topics from lists I provide. You must submit BOTH papers to pass the course! However, if you (i) get at least a C on the first paper AND (ii) get at least a full letter higher grade on the second paper, the first will not count toward your final grade. For example, if you get a C on the first paper and a B on the second, youll count as having received a B on both. However, if, for example, you get a B+ on the first paper and a B on the second, both grades will stand. There will also be an in-class midterm and a final exam. You must write BOTH in order to pass the course! (If you have a legitimate, documented excuse, a make-up will be arranged.) The final exam will NOT be cumulative, meaning that you will only be responsible for material from the second half of the course. The rest of the grade will be determined by attendance and participation. The breakdown of grading in the course is as follows: 1. Attendance and Participation: 20% 2. First Paper: 20% 3. Midterm Exam: 20% 4. Second Paper: 20% 5. Final Exam: 20% As you can see, all four assignments (two papers, the midterm and the final) are given equal weight. This is done to make it easier to recover from messing up any one of them. Attendance is MANDATORY. Starting on September 13th, every time you miss a class, you lose 1 point from the possible 20 of the attendance and participation component of the grade. In other words, your final grade goes down by 1% every time you miss a class. Absences with legitimate, documented excuses will not result in penalties.

IV. Outline of the Course Introduction: The Nature of Metaphysics Lowe, Chapter 1 Van Inwagen, Metaphysics

Section One: Background Issues Glanzberg, Truth Hofweber, Logic and Ontology

Section Two: Universals and Particulars Lowe, Chapter 19 Balaguer, Platonism in Metaphysics Rodriguez-Pereyra, Nominalism in Metaphysics

Section Three: The Abstract and the Concrete Lowe, Chapter 20 Rosen, Abstract Objects McGrath, Propositions

Section Four: Identity and Individuation Lowe, Chapters 2-4, 12 Noonan, Identity Wasserman, Material Constitution

Section Five: Necessity and Possibility Lowe, Chapters 5-7 Mackie, Transworld Identity Menzel, Actualism Nolan, Modal Fictionalism

Section Six: Events, Time and Space Lowe, Chapters 13-17 Casati & Varzi, Events Markosian, Time

Section Seven: Causation Lowe, Chapters 8-11, 18 Schaffer, The Metaphysics of Causation