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180046 PS Ontology and Metaphysics (2017W)

4.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Continuous assessment of course work

Registration/Deregistration

Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).

Details

max. 45 participants
Language: English

Lecturers

Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Tuesday 10.10. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 17.10. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 24.10. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 31.10. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 07.11. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 14.11. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 21.11. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 28.11. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 05.12. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 12.12. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 09.01. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 16.01. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 23.01. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 30.01. 16:45 - 18:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock

Information

Aims, contents and method of the course

This seminar will cover various topics in analytic ontology and metaphysics: (1) The existence of properties is traditionally debated among philosophers, where this leads usually to disputing about the ontological status of universals. (2) Another important controversy revolves around the existence of numbers qua abstract objects, with which we are never causally in touch but which nevertheless seem to play a pivotal role in the sciences and in ordinary life. (3) Whether or not possible worlds exist is another widely debated issue, where fascinating and philosophically daring positions are defended. (4) Finally, the question of the existence of material objects (like tables or chairs) will be tackled, with a review of some extreme positions as well as a deflationist option.

The aim of this seminar is to introduce and discuss some of the dominant topics in today's analytic ontology and metaphysics. By the end of the seminar, the student will be familiar with positions like Realism, Nominalism or Fictionalism about a number of entities. The arguments pro and con each position will be carefully identified and analysed in class, with ample room for discussion and occasions for clarificatory questions. Besides becoming familiar with concepts and arguments that bear directly on the issues under discussion, the student will become acquainted with the methodology that characterizes modern-day ontology, which is predominantly Quinean and requires “zooming out” on the relation philosophy bears with science and logic.

Assessment and permitted materials

SEMINAR STRUCTURE (PRE-READ): The course will be structured as a seminar, with selected readings to be done before the class -- except for the sessions in which I will introduce a certain debate! Each pre-read section will consist of a presentation of the assigned material followed by a discussion in class. All students are warmly invited to participate. All kinds of comments and questions will be considered and addressed (as long as they are on topic, of course). Participation in class will count for the final assessment.

PRESENTATION: At the beginning of the seminar series, students will be asked to pick one of the readings and present it during the scheduled session. Joint presentations are possible in case the number of students exceeds the number of readings. A presentation is a short report (30 minutes max) of the contents of the paper, preferably in a schematic and concise form (e.g. by using bullet points, tables, diagrams, etc.). It should include a brief final section where critical questions are raised, which may serve to guide the subsequent discussion in class.

ESSAY: Once the seminar series is completed, each student should write and deliver a final 3000-word essay on one of the topics covered during the semester. It is possible to write one's essay on the same paper that was picked for a presentation, as long as the essay takes into account further literature. The essay should begin by outlining the chosen topic, argument or problem and should proceed to critically assess it. A positive, original proposal is not mandated.

The essay's topic should be agreed upon beforehand with the instructor, by sending a 200-word abstract before the end of the semester. Bibliographical references and further advice on essay-writing will be provided in due course.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Examination topics

Reading list

PROPERTIES MODULE

D.M. Armstrong, "Universals as Attributes", in Kim J., Korman D. Z., Sosa E. (2011) Metaphysics: An Anthology, 2nd Edition, Wiley-Blackwell.

D.K. Lewis, "New Work for a Theory of Universals", in Kim J., Korman D. Z., Sosa E. (2011) Metaphysics: An Anthology, 2nd Edition, Wiley-Blackwell.

MATHEMATICAL OBJECTS MODULE

P. Benacerraf (1973). Mathematical truth. Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):661-679.

M. Colyvan (2003). The Indispensability of Mathematics. Oxford University Press, Chapter 1.

POSSIBLE WORLDS MODULE

D.K. Lewis, "A Philosopher's Paradise", in Kim J., Korman D. Z., Sosa E. (2011) Metaphysics: An Anthology, 2nd Edition, Wiley-Blackwell.

R. C. Stalnaker (1976). "Possible worlds." Noûs 10 (1):65-75.

G. Rosen, "Modal Fictionalism", in Kim J., Korman D. Z., Sosa E. (2011) Metaphysics: An Anthology, 2nd Edition, Wiley-Blackwell.

MATERIAL OBJECTS MODULE

P. van Inwagen, “When are Objects Parts?”, in Kim J., Korman D. Z., Sosa E. (2011) Metaphysics: An Anthology, 2nd Edition, Wiley-Blackwell.

M.C. Rea, (1998). In defense of mereological universalism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (2):347-360.

A. L. Thomasson (2008). Existence questions. Philosophical Studies 141 (1):63 - 78.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:36