Metaphysics:
Syllabus
 



Syllabus: Metaphysics
PHIL 402 - SPRING 2017 - DR. KEITH KORCZ 

How To Contact Professor Korcz:

My office is in H. L. Griffin Hall, rm. 563. My office hours are MW 12:00 - 2:30
and 3:45-4:15, Th 12:00 – 3:00, and F 12:00 – 1:00. We can also meet at other
times by arrangement - just ask. My office phone number is 482-6806. You
can also contact me (or ask questions) by e-mail at keithk@louisiana.edu.


Required Texts:

1. Michael Jubien, Contemporary Metaphysics, (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1997).


 
2. Robert Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, (New York, NY: Oxford
 University Press, 2005).



 
3. Course Pack
The course pack is available via Moodle.


Assignments:

Exams:
There will be two in-class short-answer exams, each worth 20% of the course grade.
There will also be a cumulative short-answer final exam worth 25% of the course grade.
 The exams will cover both lectures and assigned readings (material in lectures and
 assigned readings will not always overlap). All exams are closed book/closed note.


Paper Assignment:
There will also be a term paper (approx. 12 - 15 pages in length). The term paper will
be completed in two successive drafts. The first draft will be worth 10% of the course
grade and the final draft worth 25% of the course grade. Each draft of the term paper
will consist of two parts. The first part of the paper should be a critical discussion
of a published article in metaphysics. The second part of the paper should consist
of an  original, positive contribution regarding one of the issues raised in the first part
of the  paper. Topics must be approved by the instructor. Suggested topics
and all the details will be provided later on a separate handout.



Grading:

The course grades will initially be determined according to the standard scale, i.e.,
 90-100% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% = D, 59% and below = F, and
then may be modified as follows:  Course grades might be curved, but, if so, the
curve would not be such that any student's grade is lowered. Such factors as
improvement over the length of the course, class participation, etc., may be
taken into consideration, especially where doing so may improve a borderline
grade. You must complete all course assignments (namely all exams and
both drafts of the paper) to receive a passing grade (i.e., a grade other
han F, NC or U).


Class Policies:

If you miss class, for whatever reason, it is your responsibility to get class notes from
 another student. Missed exams or other assignments can be made up only if an
 appropriate excuse, e.g., illness requiring medical attention, participation in
certain official university events, etc., is provided. If you miss an assignment
due date, you must notify me within one week of either the due date or the
cessation of a medically documented persistent vegetative state in order to
make up the assignment. An unexcused late assignment will be dropped 2/3
of a letter grade per day it is late. For every four unexcused absences or
partial absences, your course grade will be dropped by a letter grade.

If you have a disability and require assistance with fulfilling class assignments,
don't hesitate to notify the instructor and the Office of Disability Services at
482-5252. Finally, be sure you are familiar with all university policies described
in the UL Lafayette Undergraduate Bulletin. All assignments for this class must
be completed individually, and any instance of academic dishonesty on any
assignment will be sufficient to fail the course.


Internet Resources:

The course home page (http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~kak7409/402Home.html)
contains links to useful sites regarding the subject matter of the course, and the
on-line syllabus. The on-line syllabus contains links to the home pages of the
authors of our readings, etc.

You are also encouraged to visit my home page, which contains a link to the
home page for this class as well as hundreds of organized links to research
and philosophy oriented web sites, among other things, that you may find
interesting and useful. The address for my home page is
 http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~kak7409. A Moodle page for the course will
be activated.


Emergency Evacuation Procedures:

A map of this floor is posted near the elevator marking the evacuation route and
the Designated Rescue Area. This is an area where emergency service
personnel will go first to look for individuals who need assistance in exiting the
building. Students who may need assistance should identify themselves to the
teaching faculty.

COURSE CALENDAR & PLANNED READING ASSIGNMENTS

NOTE: Topics, readings and assignments are tentative and may be changed. 

CP = Course Pack   

CM = Contemporary Metaphysics   

FW = A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will


Topic 1: What Is Metaphysics?

(CM): Chapter 1, "Metaphysics,” (CP): "On What There Is” by W. V. Quine, "Nominalist
 Things" by Henry Fitzgerald.



Topic 2: What Is Truth?

a. What Do We Want From A Theory of Truth? (no readings)


Monday, January 16 - Martin Luther King Day - No Classes.

b. Truth and Objectivity:
(CM): Chapter 5, "Is Truth Relative?"
c. A Pragmatic Conception of Truth:
(CP): “Pragmatism's Conception of Truth" by William James.
d. Coherence Theories of Truth:
(CP): "The Coherence Theory" by Frederick Schmitt.
e. Correspondence Theories of Truth:
(CP): "Correspondence Theories of Truth" by Chase Wrenn.
f. A Deflationary Theory of Truth:
(CP): selections from Meaning, Truth and Reality by Paul Horwich.


EXAM #1: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15.

Monday, February 27 through Wednesday, March 1 - Mardi Gras Holiday - No Classes.


Topic 3: What Are Numbers?

a. Overview:
(CM): Chapter 2, "Numbers."
b. Historical Background:
(CP): "Gottlob Frege and Mathematical Logic" by W. C. Kneale.
c. A Defense of Nominalism About Numbers:
(CP): “What Numbers Could Not Be" by Paul Benacerraf.
d. A Defense of Realism About Numbers:
(CP): "Perception and Mathematical Intuition" by Penelope Maddy.
e. Full-Blooded Platonism:
(CP): “Full-Blooded Platonism” by Mark Balaguer.


Monday, March 13 - Advising for FA17 begins.


Topic 4: What Are Properties? Relations? Propositions?

a. Overview: Platonism & Nominalism
(CM): Chapter 3, "Platonism."
b. Propositions and Truth:
(CP): "Meaning and Truth" by W. V. Quine, "Alethic Realism" by William Alston.



Topic 5: Identity

(CM): Chapter 4 "Identity" and Chapter 9 "Things and Their Parts."


EXAM #2: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22.


Topic 6: Do We Have Free Will?

a. Overview:
(FW): Chapter 1, "The Free Will Problem."
b. Classical Compatibilism:
(FW): Chapter 2, "Compatibilism."
c. Incompatibilism:
(FW): Chapter 3, "Incompatibilism."


FIRST DRAFT OF PAPER DUE: MONDAY, APRIL 3, AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS.

d. Libertarianism:
(FW): Chapter 4, "Libertarianism, Indeterminism and Chance."
e. Agent-Causation Theories:
(FW): Chapter 5, "Minds, Selves and Agent Causes" and Chapter 6, "Actions,
Reasons and Causes."

f. Skepticism About Free Will:
(FW): Chapter 7, "Is Free Will Possible? Hard Determinists and Other Skeptics."
g. The New Compatibilism:
(FW): Chapter 8, "Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities" and Chapter 9,
 "Higher-Order Desires, Real Selves and New Compatibilists."



Topic 7: What Are Possibilities?

a. Overview:
(CM): Chapter 8, "Modality."
b. Realism About Possible Worlds:
(CP): "Possible Worlds" by David Lewis.
c. Trans-World Identity:
(CP): "Transworld Identity or Worldbound Individuals?" by Alvin Plantinga.
d. In Defense of Essentialism:
(CP): "Meaning and Reference" by Hilary Putnam.
e. Iterated Modalities: (no readings)


Friday, April 14 through Sunday April 23 – Spring Break - No Classes.


Topic 8: What Are Fictions?

a. Realism About Fictional Entities:
(CP): "A Theory of Objects" by Alexius Meinong.
b. Fiction and Analysis:
(CM): Chapter 10, "Is There Truth In Fiction?"


FINAL DRAFT OF PAPER DUE: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26, AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS.

LAST DAY OF CLASSES: FRIDAY, APRIL 28.

FINAL EXAM: THURSDAY, MAY 4, FROM 11:00AM – 1:30PM, IN REGULAR CLASSROOM.


Some Helpful Tips:

1. On class evaluations, students often state that they would tell friends planning to
take this class that good class attendance and good class notes are essential to
doing well on the exams.

2. Keep up with the readings - they further explain and help you to remember test
material.

3. If you're having trouble understanding course material, do not hesitate to
discuss it with the instructor!


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