Metaphysics (PHI 330-001)
 Spring 2000
 110 Winston
11:20-12:35 T, Th

Below is the syllabus from the Spring of 2000.  For new students interested in taking this course, it should give you a pretty good idea what topics will be required and the nature of the course requirments.  The prerequisites have changed to only require that you have taken one course in philosophy or have permission of the instructor.  The current (slightly revised) version of the syllabus is only available through WebCT and will be made available to you the first day of class.  For students currently taking PHI 330, this page contains links to sample written work that maybe useful to you as you prepare papers and study for the exams.

David Lewis argues that time-travel is possible. His argument is based on controversial positions about three central topics of metaphysics: personal-identity, causation, and free will. We will consider each of these topics in some detail, always with an eye to their implications about time-travel. (There will also be a section of the course devoted to motion, which raises some interesting questions about time and travel, though not about time-travel.) Students taking this course will become better informed of true nature of reality. The three required texts are Metaphysics by Peter van Inwagen ($23.50), A Dialogue on Personal-Identity and Immortality by John Perry ($5.30), and a coursepack of xeroxed readings ($25.75). All are (or will be) available at the NCSU bookstore. Course requirements include three short papers (less than a page each), a midterm exam, a group project, and a final exam. The mid-term will be on March 7th, and the final exam will be on May 16th at 8:00 AM. The group project will take place after the midterm; significant written portions of the group project will be due on April 13th and April 27th.  Readings on reserve can be found and read by going to and searching under PHI 330.

Prerequisite: LOG 201 or LOG 335 or permission of instructor [which is given fairly freely].

Tentative Schedule of Readings and Paper Assignments:

(Due to snow.  All reading assignments are pushed back two class periods.  Exam dates will not change.)
Meeting #
1/11/00 1 What is Metaphysics?: van Inwagen, Metaphysics, pp. 1-17
1/13/00 2 Time-Travel-An Initial Look: Heinlein, "-All You Zombies-" (electronic reserve); Lewis, "The Paradoxes of Time-Travel" (Coursepack).
1/18/00: No Class; MLK holiday.
1/20/99 3 A Subjectivist Challenge to Metaphysics: van Inwagen, Metaphysics, pp. 56-69. 1st Short Paper assigned.  See below.
2/1/00 4 A Feminist Challenge to Metaphysics: Flax, "Post-Modernism, Feminism, and Metaphysics" (electronic reserve); Witt,"Metaphysics and Feminist Theory" (electronic reserve).
2/3/00 5 Circumscribing Necessity: Plantinga, from The Nature of Necessity (Coursepack); Kripke, from Naming and Necessity (Coursepack). 1st Short Paper due. 2nd Short Paper assigned.
2/8/00 6 De Dicto and De Re: Reread Plantinga and Kripke
2/10/00 7 Zeno's Dichotomy Paradox: Salmon, "A Contemporary Look at Zeno's Paradoxes" (Coursepack); Russell, "The Problem of Infinity Considered Historically" (Coursepack). 2nd Short Paper due.
2/15/00 8 Zeno's Arrow and Stadium: Reread Salmon and Russell.
2/17/00 9 What is Velocity?: Bigelow and Pargetter, from Science and Necessity (Coursepack); Tooley, "In Defense of States of Motion" (Coursepack).  3rd Short Paper assigned.
2/22/00 10 What is Velocity?: Reread Bigelow and Pargetter, and Tooley. 
2/24/00 11 The Free Will Debate: van Inwagen, Metaphysics, pp. 184-188; Salmon, "Determinism and Indeterminism in Modern Science" (Coursepack). 
2/29/00 12 Fatalism: Aristotle, from The Basic Works of Aristotle (Coursepack); Ryle, "It Was To Be" (Coursepack).  3rd Short Paper due. 
3/7/00 14 MID-TERM EXAM
3/13/00-3/17/00 SPRING BREAK
3/21/00 16 Freedom without Determinism?: Ayer, "Freedom and Necessity" (Coursepack).
3/23/00 17 Incompatibilism: van Inwagen, Metaphysics, pp. 188-199.
3/30/00 19 Time-Travel Requires Backward Causation: Shoemaker, "Identity, Properties, and Causality" (Coursepack).
4/4/00 20 The Continuity Theory: Reread Shoemaker.
4/6/00 21 Past-Oriented Fatalism: Dummett, "Bringing About the Past". (Coursepack).
4/11/00 22 Past-Oriented Fatalism (Continued): Reread Dummett.
4/13/00 23 The Bilking Argument: Fales, from Causation and Universals (Coursepack).
4/18/00 24 The Psychological Approach to Personal-Identity: Perry, A Dialogue on Personal-Identity and Immortality, pp. 1 - 36; Noonan, from Personal-Identity (Coursepack).
4/20/00 25 The Psychological Approach to Personal-Identity (Continued): Reread Perry and Noonan. 
4/27/00 27 Teletransportation: Parfit, from Reasons and Persons (Coursepack); Unger, from Identity, Consciousness, and Value (Coursepack).
5/2/00 28 Teletransportation: Parfit, "Personal-Identity" (Reserve); Perry, A Dialogue on Personal-Identity and Immortality, pp. 37 - 49.
5/4/00 29 Conclusions: Group projects, dialogues on time-travel.

1st Short Paper Assignment
Present the social construct argument.  (See pp. 60-65 of van Inwagen).  Do so in a clear and concise manner, making the argument as convincing as possible.  Then, relying on the van Inwagen reading and class discussion, say how the social construct argument goes wrong.  Maximum: 300 words.  Due 2/3/00 at the start of class.  Sample A paper.

2nd Short Paper Assignment
What is the difference between being an a priori true proposition and a necessarily true proposition?  What preliminary reason is there to think that every a priori true proposition is necessarily true?  Present some examples of propositions that appear to be both a priori true and contingent.  Maximum:  250 words.  Due 2/10/00 at the start of class. Sample A paper.

3rd Short Paper Assignment
Present Zeno's Stadium Paradox.  In your initial presentation, do not assume that space and time have an atomistic nature.  Then, show how that assumption makes the paradox much more interesting.  Maximum: 300 words.  Due 2/24/00 at the start of class. Sample A paper.

 Group Project Information

Project Result: Rough Draft of Dialogue Using Best Stuff From All Groups

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