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Unit information: Epistemology and Metaphysics in 2015/16

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Unit name Epistemology and Metaphysics
Unit code PHILM0021
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Tudor Baetu
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This is a Masters level foundation course in epistemology and metaphysics, and aims to provide a solid grounding in these central areas of philosophy for all masters and doctoral students in philosophy. The seminar will be based around a close reading of a series of important papers by contemporary philosophers. Topics to be covered will include: existence, identity, modality, causation, probability, knowledge, scepticism, internalism vs. externalism, and others.

The aim of the course is to acquaint students with the state-of-the-art in the contemporary philosophical literature in epistemology and metaphysics, two of the central topics of philosophy. We will read and discuss a selection of the best articles or book chapters that have appeared over the past thirty years. Each week, one of the students will present on the reading for that week; this will be followed by a discussion.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should:

  1. Have acquired knowledge and understanding of various key issues in metaphysics and epistemology,
  2. be able to construct and analyze sophisticated philosophical arguments and engage with other philosophers in constructive debate,
  3. be able to communicate ideas clearly and effectively to an audience, using blackboard, handouts, data projection (e.g. PowerPoint).

Teaching Information

Lectures, seminars, and essay tutorials where necessary.

Assessment Information

One essay of 5,000-6,000 words on a topic in epistemology and metaphysics.(excluding notes and bibliography).

Reading and References


  • Ralph Wedgwood, ‘The Aim of Belief’, Philosophical Perspectives, 16, pp.267?97, 2002.
  • Thomas Kelly, ‘The Epistemic Significance of Disagreement’, Oxford Studies in Epistemology, 1, pp. 167?96, 2005.
  • Jim Pryor, 'The Skeptic and the Dogmatist', Nous, 34(4), 517-549.
  • Tamar Szabó Gendler (2008). Alief and Belief. Journal of Philosophy 105 (10):634-663.
  • Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson (2001) 'Knowing How' Journal of Philosophy 98(8)


  • Hofweber, Thomas (2007) 'Innocent statements and their metaphysically loaded counterparts' Philosophers Imprint 7(1).
  • Hitchcock, Chris (2003) 'Of Humean Bondage' British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54(1): 1-25
  • Ned Markosian, ‘A Defense of Presentism’, Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, 1, pp. 47?82, 2004
  • Sally Haslanger, ‘Persistence, Change, and Explanation’ Philosophical Studies 56 (1989): 1?28
  • Judith Jarvis Thomson 'The Statue and the Clay' Nous 1998, 32(2)