Universität Wien FIND

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to courses and exams may be necessary at short notice (e.g. cancellation of on-site teaching and conversion to online exams). Register for courses/exams via u:space, find out about the current status on u:find and on the moodle learning platform.

Further information about on-site teaching can be found at https://studieren.univie.ac.at/en/info.

180168 VO Introduction to Analytical Metaphysics (2020W)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Mo 30.11. 15:00-16:30 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß



Language: German


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Monday 12.10. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Monday 19.10. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Monday 09.11. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Monday 16.11. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Monday 23.11. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Monday 07.12. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Monday 14.12. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Monday 11.01. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Monday 18.01. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Monday 25.01. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß


Aims, contents and method of the course

Aims: These "lectures with required reading" are intended to introduce students to metaphysics and familiarize them with its central questions from a historical and systematic perspective. In the course of the semester, students will become acquainted with essential historical texts (from Anaxagoras, Plato and Aristotle to Avicenna/Ibn Sina and Al-Biruni, and from Locke, Newton, and Leibniz to Einstein), as well as current debates through a selection of contemporary analytic papers.

Content: In this lecture we will explore the question of what the basic building blocks of the world are, which underlie all other philosophical questions. For example, we will discuss what objects are and how they relate to their properties; what sort of properties there are; what it is for something to undergo a change; what identity is; what is necessary, what is contingent, what is possible and what is impossible. In this context, we will also look into the distinction between realism and anti-realism.

Metaphysical explanations usually start from something taken as prime, i.e. as the itself not analyzed basis of all further metaphysical explanations. We will look at what ontological entities metaphysicians today take as prime and will discuss the respective merits and difficulties of these options. In this context we will discuss issues concerning ontological commitment, reduction and grounding. The literature on these topics includes historical texts (see above) as well as work by contemporary philosophers including Allen, Armstrong, Ayers, Brewer, Besson as well as Haslanger, Lewis, Magidor, and Thomson, Vetter, Xu, Yablo.

The first question we will have to tackle, however, is why analytic metaphysics even exists - after all, the Vienna Circle vehemently rejected metaphysics. This question leads us deep into meta-metaphysics. We will read the manifesto of the Vienna Circle and look at recent literature by Belleri, Bennett, Russell and Sider.

Method: There will be required reading which students are expected to have done ahead of each lecture; further reading will also be recommended for each topic. In the lecture, the respective issue(s) will be discussed. We will then look at the most important philosophical views on them and talk about the respective required reading.

This lecture course will be taught in the following manner:

The weekly lectures will be made available as videos (mp4 files) on Moodle. There, you will also find the required reading for each lecture as well as a list of further recommended reading. The material will therefore be fully available electronically and can be accessed at any time of day. Please note that it is necessary to listen to / watch the lecture and read the required reading every week.

Additionally, we will have discussion rounds every Monday from 3.00 – 4.30 pm. These discussion rounds constitute an essential, integral part of this lecture course. They enable you to ask questions concerning the material and the required reading and also offer an opportunity for sharing your thoughts with other (budding) philosophers, which is a very important aspect in doing philosophy. You should take part in discussion rounds at least once a month. For this purpose we shall set up groups (for further detail on how this is done, see our Moodle page). While the situation with respect to COVID-19 allows us to do so, we shall have these discussion rounds in lecture hall II (ground floor of the NIG). In this case, on three Mondays per month one discussion group will get together at the NIG. Every fourth Monday, the discussion round will take place online in order to enable people who cannot come to the university to participate as well. Should teaching be moved back online again in the course of the semester, all the discussion rounds will take place online.
**Update of 2 Nov.: from 9 Nov online only.

The exam will be held on Moodle, too, and will be set at a specific date and time (tba).

Assessment and permitted materials

Written exam

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Positive grade on exam (pass minimum: half achievable score)

Examination topics

The material presented during the lecture and accompanying required reading

Reading list

Recommended introductions:

Allen, Sophie (2016) A critical introduction to properties, Bloomsbury Academic
Armstrong, D. M. (1989). Universals: An opinionated introduction. Wiley
Loux, M. J., & Crisp, T. M. (2017). Metaphysics: A contemporary introduction. Routledge
Ney, Alyssa. (2015) Metaphysics: An Introduction, Routledge.
Schrenk, Markus (2017) Handbuch Metaphysik. JB Metzler, Stuttgart.

Further reading will be announced during the lecture and on Moodle.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 02.11.2020 20:49