Metaphysics, Autumn 2019

Course Information:

PHIL 43501-01

  • Professor Shields
  • Class Meetings: TR 12.30-13.45,  Malloy Hall 320


The course serves as an advanced introduction to contemporary metaphysics, surveyig such issues as: realism and nominalism about universals, diachronic identity, individuation, the modalities of possibility and necessity, essence, numbers and other abstract entities, propositions, causation, and time.  

By the end of the semester, you should be in a position to read professional literature in these areas, in the forms of both monographs and journal articles.  

Office Hours and Contact Information:

  • Office: Malloy Hall 327
  • Office hours: W 8.30-10.30 and by appointment
  • e-mail: 

  • N.b. I prefer e-mail to telephone as a manner of student contact.  I make an effort to answer student e-mails promptly, but please be aware that I measure promptness in this domain in days rather than hours or minutes. 

Required Text:

  • Loux, M., ed. Metaphysics: Contemporary Readings 2nd ed. (Routledge: 2008)


  • Loux, M., Metaphysics: a Contemporary Introduction 4th ed. (Routledge: 2006)
  • Throughout the term, I will make recommendations to suitable journal literature.  There will also be additional readings developed in consultation with registered graduates, who will offer seminar presentations.

Requirements and Protocol:

Undergraduate students will write two essays, the first at mid-term, of about 2,000 words, and the second, at the term’s end, in the neighbourhood of 3,500-4,000 words.  I will offer suggested topics for each of these essays.  You are, however, welcome to ignore these suggestions and write on a pertinent topic of your own choosing, but only if that topic is approved by me at least one week in advance of the due date.  

Students will also offer a presentation on a topic of their choice, to be determined in consultation with me.  Presentations will be in the range of 15-20 minutes, with discussion capped at +/- 30 minutes.   

The due dates for the essays are:   

  • Essay One: 17 October
  • Essay Two: 12 December 

These papers are to be submitted electronically in a main-stream word-processing format or (if you use something non-standard) as .pdf documents to:   Papers will be accepted until 17.00 on their due dates.

Attendance is expected at all seminar meetings.

Topics and Reading Schedule:

Please adhere to this reading schedule.  Note, however, that while some readings will be discussed directly in class, others will merely be assumed as background for lectures.  In either case, you are welcome—indeed, encouraged— to discuss with me readings which you find difficult or especially stimulating, either in class, when our schedule permits, or in my office hours, when not.  

Course Lecture Slides

© Christopher Shields 2014