Syllabus: Philosophy 130 -- Metaphysics
Philosophy 130: Metaphysics
Lecture Hall 2114
When: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30-1:50m
Instructor: Jonathan Cohen
email: joncohen AT aardvark DOT ucsd DOT edu
office phone: (858) 534 6812
Office hours: Tuesdays 10-11:30, in H&SS 8072.
This course will take up four fundamental topics in
contemporary metaphysics: existence, causation, modality, and
These topics are central not only in metaphysical disputes, but also
have repercussions in many other areas of philosophy.
The course will not presuppose any exposure to the relevant
literatures, and will be a broad overview of some of the going
accounts and controversies.
There will be two assigned papers for the course, and a take home
final exam (which will be due on Tuesday 18 March 2014, at 2:30pm).
There will be no midterm.
There is no textbook for the course; all materials will be made
available through the UCSD library
To access the materials you'll need the password: jc130.
Violations of academic integrity will not be tolerated in this
course; violators will receive an F on at least the relevant
assignment and possibly the course, and will be subjected to UCSD's
disciplinary procedures (which could result in penalties including
permanent explusion from the university).
You are responsible for knowing and adhering to the UCSD
Policy on Integrity in all respects.
In particular, you may not cause or allow your work for this course to
resemble that of any other person, and all use of the ideas or words
of anyone other than a paper's author must be acknowledged properly.
I don't care a huge amount about specific citation formats; I do care
a huge amount that sources are acknowledged.
As far as collaboration goes, it's fine (it's encouraged) to talk
about the philosophical issues with other students or anyone
else you like; but when it is time to write up an essay you should do
so entirely by yourself.
If you have any questions about the Policy on Integrity or how to
follow it (e.g., if you are unsure how to cite ideas from other
sources) please ask me!
I am very happy to help prevent real or apparent violations of
academic integrity before they occur, and very unhappy to discover
that they have occured.
(As you may have noticed, I feel very strongly about this issue.)
To ensure standards of academic integrity are met, I'll
ask you, as a condition on taking this course, to run all of your
assigned work for the course through Turnitin.com,
which checks your paper for textual similarity to all of the other
papers in its databases.
(Your submitted papers will also be included as source documents in
the Turnitin.com reference database, solely for the purpose of
detecting plagiarism, going forward.)
To get started with the system, please see the instructions at
You'll need the class ID () and the password ().
This schedule is tentative in both its content and its timing; I reserve
the right to add, subtract, or reschedule items as the course progresses.
Segment 1 (weeks 1-3): Existence
- Quine, "On What There Is"
- Carnap, "The Elimination of Metaphysics Through the Logical
Analysis of Language"
- Carnap, "Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology"
- Russell, "Existence and Description"
- Quine, "Ontological Relativity"
Segment 2 (weeks 4-6): Modality (and persistence, too)
- Plantinga, "Modalities: Basic Concepts and Distinctions"
- Lewis, "Counterparts or Double Lives?"
- Haslanger, "Endurance and Temporary Intrinsics"
- Eddon, "Three Arguments from Temporary Intrinsics"
- Haslanger, "Persistence Through Time"
- Armstrong, "The Nature of Possibility"
Segment 3 (weeks 7-8): Causation
- Mackie, "Causes and Conditions"
- Lewis, "Causation"
- Davidson, "Causal Relations"
- Kim, "Mechanism, Purpose, and Explanatory Exclusion"
- Yablo, "Mental Causation"
- Bennett, "Why the Exclusion Problem Seems Intractable, and How,
Just Maybe, to Tract It"
Segment 4 (weeks 9-10): Reduction
- Broad, "Mechanism and Emergence"
- Fodor, "Special Sciences"
- Kim, "Multiple Realization and the Metaphysics of Reduction"
- Fodor, "Special Sciences: Still Autonomous After All These Years"
- Block, "Anti-Reductionism Slaps Back"