The course offers a general introduction into some of the major problems of contemporary analytic metaphysics. Metaphysics is a study of the most general categories in order to answer the questions what is real and what are the ultimate constituents of reality. In the course we’ll be addressing the following problems. What are properties and how are they related to objects? Under what conditions can an object retain its identity? What holds together the totality of particulars in order to constitute one universe and what explains their changes? Do other universes than the actual exist? Do the past and the future exist and how is it possible for a thing to change? How are thoughts and sensations related to the physical reality? Can agents be free if the universe is deterministic?
Students are expected to acquire the ability to reconstruct and analyze philosophical arguments or positions. These involve the understanding of validity and soundness of the arguments, the ability to identify background principles and assumptions as well as the ability to draw out the consequences of certain philosophical commitments. They are also expected to acquire certain writing skills in order to be able to formulate arguments concisely and accessibly in words and to give short critical comments. Finally, they should be familiarized with the main contemporary views and debates about metaphysics and ontology. Learning outcomes shall be measured by short writing assignments and the comprehensive final examination.
Assessment for 2-year MA students: in-class written examination at the end of the first year.
Assessment for 1-year MA students: Students’ performance shall be evaluated on the following grounds. First, students are required to write short assignments that must include the logical reconstruction of the main arguments for and against certain philosophical positions. The study questions the assignments must address shall be distributed fortnightly. This will make up 40 % of the final grade. Second, students are required to submit a max. 2 000 word long term-paper. The topic of the paper can be either a careful critical reconstruction of a particular and important argument for some position discussed in the course; or a comparison between competing arguments about alternative solutions to a problem; or a defense of some particular position/argument against some relevant criticism. The chosen topic should be approved by the instructor. References can, but need not, go beyond the material included into the compulsory readings. The term paper’s contribution to the final assessment of students’ performance is 60 %.