PHIL 318 Metaphysics


Metaphysics includes a vast range of topics and issues—from the nature of time and numbers to the constitution of material objects. In this course, we will focus on three central, related issues. First, the dispute between realists and nominalists regarding universals: Do similar things share something in common that explains their similarity? Second, possible worlds: When I say, “I could have been killed!” what makes that statement true? And third, the dispute between realists and anti-realists: Can we accurately divide nature, or mind-independent reality, at its “joints”? Are there any such “joints” in the first place? We’ll consider not only how the realism/antirealism debate applies to natural kinds like water and tigers, but also to social kinds like race, gender, and sexuality. Along the way, we’ll look at some feminist views regarding how metaphysics may (and should) be concerned with the ways in which our views about reality either sustain or challenge oppression.