Syllabus: Metaphysics

How To Contact Professor Korcz:

My office is in H. L. Griffin Hall, rm. 563. My office hours are MWF 11:00 – 12:00, MW 1:00 - 2:30, and Th 12:00 – 3:00. We can also meet at other times by arrangement - just ask. The best way to contact me (or ask questions) is by e-mail at My office phone number is 482-6806.

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.


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.


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 than F, NC or U).

Class Policies:

Missing Class: If you must miss class, for whatever reason, it is your responsibility to get class notes from another student. If you wish your absence to be excused, promptly provide me with an appropriate excuse, e.g., illness requiring medical attention, participation in certain university-sanctioned events, dangerous weather, etc. For every five unexcused absences or partial absences, your course grade will be dropped by a letter grade.

Missing Assignments: 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. Missed assignments can be made up for full credit only if an appropriate excuse is promptly provided. An unexcused late assignment will be dropped 2/3 of a letter grade per day it is late.

Academic Dishonesty: All assignments for this class must be completed individually, and any instance of academic dishonesty (e.g., cheating, plagiarism, furnishing false information regarding absences, etc.) will be sufficient to fail the course.

Unauthorized Websites: Neither lectures nor any class materials may be posted on the internet or otherwise published. Students who rely on internet sites (other than my own, listed below) or search engines for class notes, quizzes, study guides, etc., tend to do poorly in my classes. Such sites are often unreliable, and they prevent you from learning valuable note-taking and study skills. Do not use them. In general, you will get much more out of your classes if you do your own work.

University Policies: Be sure you are familiar with all university policies described in the
UL Lafayette Undergraduate Bulletin and Code of Student Conduct.

Internet Resources:

The course home page (
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 A Moodle page for the course will
be activated.

Disability Accomodations:

Students needing academic accommodations for a disability must first be registered with the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to verify the disability and to establish eligibility for accommodations. Students may call 337-482-5252 or visit the ODS office in the Conference Center/Agnes Edwards Hall, room 126. Once registered, students should then schedule an appointment with the professor to make appropriate arrangements. If your needs are not being met for any reason, inform the instructor and ODS as soon as possible so that we may rectify the problem.

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.


You should complete each of the readings before they are discussed in class. Some of the readings are difficult, and you may find that you need to re-read them after they have been discussed in class in order to fully understand them.

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.

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

Topic 2: What Is Truth?

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


Monday, March 4 through Wednesday, March 6 - 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.

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.

Monday, March 18 - Advising for FA19 begins.


Topic 5: Identity

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


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."
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)

Monday, April 15 through Friday April 19 – 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?"




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

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

Home  Back