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Level 5

5AANA010 Metaphysics II


Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Professor Christopher Hughes


  • Summative assessment: 1 x 2,500 word essay (100%) 
  • Formative assessment: 1 x 2,000 word essay


  • Summative assessment: 2 x 2,000 word essays (50% each) 
  • Formative assessment: 1 x 2,000 word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: one one-hour weekly lecture and one one-hour weekly seminar over ten weeks
Pre-requisites: 4AANA004 Metaphysics I strongly recommended though not required

Topics covered will be:

  • The existence of nature of properties.
  • The question of whether there are more things than exist.

Further information

Module Aims
Learning Outcomes
Reading List
Past Syllabi

Module aims

The Metaphysics II module aims to instruct students in the main areas of metaphysics. It will discuss some topics also covered in Metaphysics I, but in greater depth, as well as introducing other important metaphysical topics.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, the students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practicable skills appropriate to a Level 5 module and in particular will be able to demonstrate a broad understanding of the main problems concerning the metaphysics of ordinary material objects in the analytic tradition.

Reading list

Week 1 -  The Existence (or Otherwise) of Properties

Readings: Chapter 6 of W. V. O. Quine, Word and Object (“Flight From Intension”)

Frank Jackson, “Statements About Universals”, Mind, 86, 343 (1977) [JSTOR-available

Arthur Pap, “Nominalism, Empiricism, and Universals I” Philosophical Quarterly, 37,9  1959 [JSTOR-available]

Week 2 -    A reductive account of Properties 1:  Lewis on Properties

David Lewis, Chapter 1 of On the Plurality of Worlds, especially section 5 thereof

Week 3 -  A non-reductive account of Properties: Properties as Universals

David Armstrong, “Universals, an Opinionated Introduction, chapters 1 and 5

Week 4 – A different non-reductive account of Properties:  Properties as Tropes

Keith Campbell, “The Metaphysic of Abstract Particulars”, Midwest Studies in Philosophy  (1981).

Week 5 – Quine on what there is and what exists

W.V.O. Quine, “On What There Is”, Review of Metaphysics, 2, 5 (1948) [JSTOR-available]

Week 6 -  Chisholm on what there is and what exists

Roderick Chisholm, “Beyond Being and Non-Being” Philosophical Studies, v. 24, no. 4 (1973)


Week 7 -  Russell’s Worries about Meinong and Parsons’s quasi-Meinongian theory 1

Terence Parsons, “Nuclear and Extra-Nuclear Properties, Meinong, and Leibniz” Nous, 12, 2 (1978) [JSTOR-available]

Week 8 – More on Parsons’s quasi-Meinongian theory

No new reading (the Parson piece will give you enough to think about for a fortnight)

Week 9 -  Williamson’s half-way house:  possibilist semi-Meinongianism

Timothy Williamson, “Necessary Existents”, in A. O’Hear, Logic, Thought, & Language (web-available

Week 10 -  Open/Catch-up


 Past syllabi

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

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