The principal and speculative claim of this course is the metaphysical one that all we know there to be exists in time. To justify this claim it is necessary to bring together a large number of distinct and separately disputable claims about metaphysics, existence, quantification, logic, truth, taxonomy, and proposed categories of objects, past and present. Of these putative categories, some are void of occupants, others are not, and some are dependent on others. The course will focus on providing arguments for and against the existence of numerous classes of item, from abstract objects to time itself. The range of discussion will provide students with many topics for independent investigation. In the process, we will be quartering a metaphysical programme aspiring to system.
The science of being
Ontology and systematics
Meanings of ‘be’
Existence and how to talk about it
Non-existence (and against non-existent objects) Quantification and ontological commitment
Logic and existence
Truth and existence
Truth-makers and ontological commitment
Tropes (and against facts)
Classification and categories
Historical categories and basic ontological distinctions Factors and formal disciplines
Auxiliaries and cognitive operations
Abstraction (and against abstract objects)
Multitudes replace sets
Beings in time
Occurrents and continuants
Existing at a time
The primacy of process
Relational truths: internal and external (and against relations) Dependence and unity
Dynamism and temporal egalitarianism
Causation and temporal advance
Emergence: epistemic and ontic
Speculation: emergent temporality
What there isn’t
The world, and all that therein is
There are many textbooks, handbooks, readers, and monographs and collections on specialised topics in metaphysics and ontology. Some are good, some not so good. Here are three good and fairly recent books: a textbook, a reader, and a handbook.
E. J. Lowe: A Survey of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press, 2002.
S. D. Hales, ed.: Metaphysics: Contemporary Readings. Wadsworth, 1999.
R. D. Le Poidevin et al., eds.: The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge, 2009.
Further, more specific reading will be given for particular topics, and the course leader will make available several of his own writings for comparison.