Phil 340, Knowledge and Reality II

Tuesday & Thursday 2:00-3:30; GEOG 147

Term 1 2017-18

Tentative; Subject to Change

Roberta Ballarin

Office: Buchanan E, room 363
Office Hours: TBA / TA:


Kim, Korman and Sosa, eds., Metaphysics. An Anthology, Wiley-Blackwell 2011.

(additional reading material will be made available to students)

Course Description and Aims:

This course is an introduction to metaphysics. It focuses on the reality part of Knowledge and Reality. What is metaphysics? Perhaps paradoxically, this is a question that metaphysics itself tries to answer. But one first relatively uncontroversial answer is the following: Metaphysics is the study of the most general and fundamental features of reality. So, it is a huge field that covers many subjects. In this class we will discuss some of the central, traditional topics in contemporary analytic metaphysics, like Existence, Time, Causation, Necessity, and Personal Identity among others. (For a complete list of topics, see the schedule of classes.)

Analytic philosophy in general, and metaphysics in particular, are rather technical and abstract disciplines, both in their substance and methodology. In this class we will strive to uncover the fundamental insights and concerns behind the technicalities of the field, but we will also learn to appreciate the subtlety and sophistication of the philosophical arguments under examination. Most of us are interested in understanding the universe we live in, so it is probable that you have already wondered about some of the questions we will ask in class – especially so, if you are a philosophy major! So, the starting points of our metaphysical investigations are questions that you have probably already wondered about. The aim of this class is to lead you to appreciate how complex, interesting and controversial the possible answers to such questions tend to be.

The lectures will take the readings as a guideline, but will expand beyond them. In class, we will cover the topics moving from the more basic and general concerns to the more specific ones. For example, existence counts as a fundamental topic, given that everything exists (though this too is controversial). Time is also a fundamental topic, since it may be argued that everything happens in time. On the other hand, personal identity is a more specific topic, given that only a few things in the universe are persons, while instead all persons are objects among others. I hope you will enjoy the class!


Philosophy 240, Knowledge and Reality I.


  • In class midterm. 25%
  • Paper (~1500-1800 words or 6-8 pages). 35%
  • Final exam. 40%

Make-up examinations and paper extensions will be granted only ifyou present some formal evidence (for example a doctor’s note) indicative of a valid excuse (for example, illness or family emergency) in a timely manner. Unexcused late papers will be penalized 4 points for each calendar day.

Cell phone and computer policy

Cell phones should be turned off during class. Computers and tabletsmay be used only to take notes, and the Wi-Fi should be turned off. Yet, I encourage you to take handwritten notes. See the following articles on the benefits of taking notes by hand: away and

Academic Integrity and Responsibility:

You are expected to adhere to UBC’s policies concerning academic honesty and standards. In particular, not to plagiarize. An excerpt about plagiarism and a link to the UBC policy on academic misconduct is provided below.

Plagiarism [from UBC Calendar]:

Plagiarism, which is intellectual theft, occurs where an individual submits or presents the oral or written work of another person as his or her own. Scholarship quite properly rests upon examining and referring to the thoughts and writings of others. However, when another person's words (i.e. phrases, sentences, or paragraphs), ideas, or entire works are used, the author must be acknowledged in the text, in footnotes, in endnotes, or in another accepted form of academic citation. Where direct quotations are made, they must be clearly delineated (for example, within quotation marks or separately indented). Failure to provide proper attribution isplagiarismbecause it represents someone else's work as one's own.Plagiarismshould not occur in submitted drafts or final works. A student who seeks assistance from a tutor or other scholastic aids must ensure that the work submitted is the student's own. Students are responsible for ensuring that any work submitted does not constituteplagiarism. Students who are in any doubt as to what constitutesplagiarismshould consult their instructor before handing in any assignments

A link about Academic misconduct:

Approximate Schedule of Classes:

Date / Subject / Required Readings / Evaluation and Other
07-Sep-17 / Introduction
12-Sep-17 / Ontology & Existence / Quine: On What There is (1)
14-Sep-17 / Ontology& Existence / Quine: cont’d
19-Sep-17 / Ontology& Existence / Carnap: Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology (2)
21-Sep-17 / Ontology& Existence / Carnap: cont’d
26-Sep-17 / Identity / Kripke: Identity and Necessity (10)
28-Sep-17 / Identity / Kripke: cont’d
03-Oct-17 / MIDTERM
05-Oct-17 / Identity / Gibbard: Contingent Identity (11)
10-Oct-17 / Identity / Gibbard: cont’d
12-Oct-17 / Modality: Necessity and Possibility / Lewis: A Philosopher’s Paradise (16)
17-Oct-17 / Modality: Necessity and Possibility / Lewis: cont’d
19-Oct-17 / Modality: Necessity and Possibility / Stalnaker: Possible Worlds (17
24-Oct-17 / Persistence (Identity through Time)—The Problem of Change / Lewis: The Problem of Temporary Intrinsics (37)
Haslanger: Endurance and Temporary Intrinsics (38)
26-Oct-17 / Persistence and Parts / Chisholm: Identity through Time (33) / PAPER TOPICS HANDED OUT
07-Nov-17 / Time / McTaggart: The Unreality of Time (distributed)
09-Nov-17 / Time / McTaggart: (cont’d) / PAPER DUE
14-Nov-17 / Time / Lewis: The Paradoxes of Time Travel (distributed)
16-Nov-17 / Personal Identity / Shoemaker: Persons and their Pasts (40)
21-Nov-17 / Personal Identity / Shoemaker: (cont’d)
23-Nov-17 / Personal Identity / Williams: The Self and the Future (41)
28-Nov-17 / Personal Identity / Williams (cont’d)
30-Nov-17 / Conclusion and Review
TBA / Final Exam