Philosophy 330: Metaphysics     Spring 2000 (Dr. Ezio Vailati)
Where to reach me: PB 2212; phone: 3376; homepage:; email:
Office hours: T. 5-6 & Th. 3:30-4:30 & by appointment if necessary.

This course introduces students to many standard metaphysical issues through the study of time. Is time real or merely an illusion?  What makes two things in time the same individual thing?  What makes me the same person who wrote this syllabus?  Is the future determined?  If so, can we have free will?  Is the future fated?  If God exists and knows the future, can we really be responsible for our actions?   In addition, toward the end of the course, we shall study some issues in philosophy of mind such as: is the mind reducible to the brain? Can a mere computer think?

Required texts
1. Q. Smith & L. N. Oaklander, Time, Change and Freedom, Routledge. (T)   This is a purchase text.
2. R. C. Hoy & L. N. Oaklander, Metaphysics.Classic and Contemporary Readings, Wadsworth. (M) This is a rental text.

Course outline
1/10-1/20 Preliminaries: infinite setsBeginning of time: T 11-22; M 11-13.
10/25  First quiz
1/25-1/27 Infinity of past and future time: T 23-34; handout on medieval controversy.
2/1 Second quiz
2/1-2/3 Relational and substantival theories of time: T 35-44; M 29-33.
2/8 Third quiz
2/8  Augustine: M 21-28.
2/10-2/17 McTaggart: M 43-54.
2/22 Fourth quiz
2/22-3/2 The passage of time: T 64-86.
3?7 Fifth quiz
3/7-3/9 Relational and substantival theory of identity: T 87-104; Reid: M 124-29; Chisholm: M 138-47.
3/9 Sixth quiz First paper due
3/21-3/23 Fatalism and tenseless  time: T 115-29.
3/28-4/4  Seventh quiz Eternity: T45-54;  Aquinas on divine eternity. God, time and freedom: T 130-44; Rowe: M 318-27.
4/6-4/13 Freedom, determinism and responsibility: T 145-60; Chisholm: M 360-66; Dennett: M 385-92.
4/18-4/20 Eighth quiz The Mental; Intro to philosophy of mind
4/25 Ninth quiz Jackson: M 257-263.
4/27 Searle: M 276-285.
4/27 Tenth quiz second paper due
Final essay topics (Download)

Course requirements and grades
1) Ten multiple choice quizzes, each worth 3% of the course grade.  Some will be in class, some take-home.
2) Two papers, typed, double-spaced, 3 full pages long which will be each worth 25% of the course grade.
3) A final exam, consisting of a multiple choice quiz and a short essay, worth 20% of the course grade.
4) There are 100 possible points in this course.  The breakdown in terms of grade is roughly as follows: 100-90:A; 89-77:B; 76-60:C; 59-50:D; 49 or less: E.

Academic policies
1) Cheating of any kind will be swiftly and severely punished.
2) Students are responsible for knowing what has been said in class, especially announcements concerning reading assignments and papers.  Papers or quizzes may be based on classroom discussions not derived from any written material.  If for any reason you miss some classes, make sure to find out, from some other student or from me, what has been done in class.

1) First and foremost, be aware that you cannot write a successful paper in one evening or one night unless you have thought about it at length before. You are encouraged to give me rough drafts of your papers.  Keep in mind that I can return them with significant comments only if: i) they are given to me at least one full week before the papers are due; ii) they are written reasonably clearly.  Rough drafts consisting only of disjointed paragraphs or, worse, mere paragraph headings cannot be properly evaluated.  You may turn in your rough drafts as many times as you like, compatibly with the above requirements.
2) Grading criteria for papers are as follows.  A paper providing mere information adequately and accurately in clear prose substantially free of spelling and grammatical mistakes will be in the C/B- range.  A paper which in addition to meeting this requirement shows some originality supported by reasonably clear and cogent arguments will be in the B/A- range.  A paper which shows significant originality, clarity and cogency will be in the A range.
My reading a student's rough draft of a paper does not entail, although it makes it somewhat likely, that the paper, even if my comments are considered, will get a B or an A.   Often a bad paper must be revised more than once to become good.
Half a letter grade will be subtracted from a given paper for every solar day it is late.
3) Spelling and grammar
It goes without saying that I expect papers to be written in correct English. Students who feel unsure about their command of grammar should make use of the Writing Center.
Out of carelessness or ignorance, students often confuse the following words:
it's/its; there/their; cite/site; principal/principle; than/then; to/too/two; who's/whose; weather/whether; conscience/conscious; since/sense; coarse/course.
In addition, philosophy students are often guilty of the following misspellings:
arguement; diety; concieve; decieve; percieve; sieze; truely; wholely.
If unsure about how to spell these words correctly, check a dictionary.

Study questions
(T) contains very useful study questions at the end of each chapter; make use of them!