PHI302 - Metaphysics



The content of this module varies from year to year, depending in part on students’ preferences. In the past it has focused mainly on two topics. First, the ontology of material things and its implications for our own nature. What material things are there? For instance, is there a thing made up of you, my left foot, and the northern hemisphere of Mars? Can the same matter make up more than one material thing at the same time? Do theories about material things clash with views about personal identity? And do these metaphysical questions really have answers that we can discover or get wrong, or are the answers somehow up to us to decide? Second, the nature of time. How does time differ from space? Is the present moment different from all other times, simply by being present? Would an omniscient being have to know not just which things happen when, but also which are happening now, and which are past and which are yet to come? Or is now no more special than here? Is there a passage in time, consisting of the movement of the present from earlier events to later ones?

Preparatory Reading

A good place to start is E.J. Lowe, A Survey of Metaphysics (OUP).


One coursework essay (50%) and one exam (50%); or one long essay (100%).


Eric Olson

Lectures - Autumn 2017

Thursday 2-3pm - Hicks Building Lecture Theatre A
Thursday 4-5pm - Hicks Building Lecture Theatre 6

Seminars (from Week 3)

Friday 12 noon-1pm - 38 Mappin Street G02