Metaphysics is a third year undergraduate course focused on questions about the structure of reality as a whole. After some reflection on the nature of the discipline and our ability to know anything about it (meta-metaphysics), we discuss topics in "general metaphysics", including the nature of part-whole relationships, composition, identity, and persistence over time, necessity and possibility, counterfactuals, causation, actions, events and agency, space, and time. These abstract questions in "general metaphysics" have direct bearing on those controversial questions in "special metaphysics" which students often have strong views about, like the nature of the self, the existence of free-will, and the existence of anything outside the material universe. I find that distancing metaphysics from these issues allows students the opportunity for a more careful analysis. In addition to regular quizzes and exams and participation in discussion, students must develop an original argument paper based both on course readings and outside research. Although non-majors are permitted to enroll in the course, students are most likely to be successful if they have had prior coursework in philosophy, including background related to issues in logic, argumentation, and epistemology.
"I can honestly say [it was one of] the hardest, and most rewarding classes in my college career." (Spring 2016 Student)
"The course was very open to all opinions and educational experiences." (Spring 2016 Student)
"I was forced to learn more about what I thought I already knew." (Spring 2015 Student)