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Metaphysics (Fall 2018)


INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Bradley Rettler


OFFICE: Ross Hall 128

OFFICE HOURS: Tuesday 2:30ish-3:30, Friday 2-3, and by appointment


Course Website:




Schedule and Readings (readings are to be done by the day they are listed)

Aug 30: Introduction: What is Metaphysics?


Sep 4: Quine - ``On What There Is'' (KSK) -- Sample Critical Paper

Sep 6: Lewis and Lewis- ``Holes'' (KSK) (or if you prefer videos...)

Sep 11: van Inwagen - ``Meta-ontology'' (Those inclined can also read Rettler (2016))

Sep 13: Schaffer - ``On What Grounds What'' (KSK)  (Those inclined can also read Rettler (2017))


Sep 18: Ontology, Review

Sep 20: Lewis - ``A Philosopher's Paradise'' (KSK)

Sep 25: van Inwagen - "Two Concepts of Possible Worlds"

Sep 27: Lewis - ``The Problem of Temporary Intrinsics'' (KSK)

Oct 2: Haslanger - ``Endurance and Temporary Intrinsics'' (KSK)

Oct 4: Thomson - ``Parthood and Identity Across Time'' (KSK)


Oct 9: McTaggart - ``The Unreality of Time'' (Those inclined can also read Rettler (2012))

Oct 11: Sider - ``Against Presentism''

Free will
Oct 16: Richard Taylor - ``Fatalism''

Oct 18: van Inwagen - The Consequence Argument

Oct 23: Sider - ``The Argument from Vagueness''  (KSK)

Oct 25: Vageueness, Continued


Oct 30: van Inwagen - Material Beings, Chapter 2

Nov 1: van Inwagen - Material Beings, Chapter 9 (Those inclined can also read Rettler (forthcoming))

Human Persons

Nov 6: Olson - ``An Argument for Animalism'' (KSK)

Nov 8: Lynne Rudder Baker - ``The Ontological Status of Persons'' (KSK)

To be Determined by Poll

Nov 13: Haslanger - "Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them to Be?"
Nov 15: Sveinsdóttir - "The Metaphysics of Sex and Gender"

Nov 20: Mills - "But what are you really?"


Nov 27: Thomasson - Fiction and Metaphysics, ch 1
Nov 29: van Inwagen - "Creatures of Fiction

Dec 4: Nagel - "Death"
Dec 6: Brueckner and Fischer - "Why is Death Bad?"

FINAL PAPERS DUE (if you want comments)

Dec 13: Final Exam, 1:15-3:15pm

FINAL PAPERS DUE (if you don't care about comments)

Poll options:

- Causation
- Metaphysics of Artworks

- Metaphysics of Color

- Metaphysics of Death
- Metaphysics of Disability

- Metaphysics of Fictional Characters
- Metaphysics of Gender

- Metaphysics of Music
- Metaphysics of Race
- Metaphysics of Sexual Orientation
- Theories of Objects
- Theories of Properties

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