730%20215%2001%20Sylvan - Introduction to Metaphysics...

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Introduction to Metaphysics Summer 2011 (7/11 – 8/17) Instructor : Kurt L. Sylvan Meets : Monday/Wednesday from 6:00 PM to 9:40 PM in Frelinghuysen Hall, Room A4 Course Description Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that aspires to characterize the basic ingredients of reality at a very high level of generality. Many questions in metaphysics are about whether and how we can explain a familiar kind of phenomenon that our commonsense thinking accepts in more fundamental and often more naturalistically acceptable terms. Examples of apparently existing commonsense phenomena we’ll discuss which raise difficult metaphysical puzzles are: (i) free will; (ii) persons and their psychological states; (iii) the (seeming) fact that objects can gain and lose properties over time without ceasing to exist; (iv) the (seeming) fact that the world has a past, present and future, and the other (seeming) fact that we only have direct access to the present; (v) the (seeming) fact that the objects we observe share genuine respects of similarity ; (vi) the (seeming) fact that there are truths about such abstract entities as numbers ; (vii) the (seeming) fact that causal relations glue together some events in time; and (viii) the (seeming) fact that there are laws of nature that explain the patterns of events we observe in the world. Typically, metaphysical questions about apparent phenomena like (i-viii) get answered by three different parties. Reductionists claim that we can indeed reduce the apparent commonsense phenomenon to something more fundamental. Nonreductionists claim that we cannot reduce the phenomenon but can acceptably view it as part of basic reality. Eliminativists claim that we
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730%20215%2001%20Sylvan - Introduction to Metaphysics...

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