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Logic and Metaphysics


Williamson T.

Course director


The course will be an introduction to higher-order modal logic as a structural core of metaphysical theories. It will be based on Timothy Williamson, Modal Logic as Metaphysics (OUP, 2013), omitting some of the more technical sections, especially in chapter 7. Chapter 1 is reasonably non-technical and can be read in advance for an initial sense of the issues. Central to the book is the debate in modal metaphysics between necessitism and contingentism, on whether being is contingent, with a look too at the analogous issue in the metaphysics of time, on whether being is temporary. In modal logic, these issues correspond to the contrast between logics with and without the Barcan formula and its converse, and between constant-domain and variable-domain models. This will lead us to more general questions about the relation between formal models of modal logic and its metaphysical interpretations, and about higher-order logic as an approach to issues traditionally discussed under titles such as ‘the problem of universals’, including its implications for both mathematics and methodological debates about ontological commitment. Time permitting, we will also discuss implications for truthmaker theory.



Teaching mode

In presence

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Examination information