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PH 302N / PH 352N

Course Co-ordinator: Dr F Berto

Pre-requisite(s): Familiarity with basic general ontology (eg. by having attended Level 2 Metaphysics).

Note(s): This course will be available in 2012/13 as PH 302N.

It has been claimed that the problem of ontology can be phrased in a three-word question: What is there? Despite this easy formulation of the question, the answer has proved to be difficult through the history of philosophy. This course explores some main questions of both classic and contemporary ontology, connected to the notions of being and existence. Some such questions are: Is being univocal? Is there a distinction between being and existence, and between there is and exists? What does the Kantian motto, Existence is not a predicate, mean? Is existence a property? Is the notion of existence captured by the existential quantifier of elementary logic?The course includes a broad historical overview, starting from the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides, going through Plato's theory of being, Aristotle's criticisms of it, and the ontology of major Medieval thinkers like Aquinas and Avicenna. Next, the modern positions of Hume, Leibniz, and Kant on the subject are investigated. Finally, the inquiry turns to contemporary philosophy, analytic ontology, and the philosophy of quantification of such authors as Frege, Russell, Quine, Peter van Inwagen, Nathan Salmon, and Graham Priest.

One 60 minute lecture, plus one 60 minute tutorial per fortnight. Tutorials begin in week 2.

1st Attempt: Level 3 students: one 1,500 word essay (50%) plus 1 two-hour examination (50%).

Resit: 1 two-hour written exam (100%). In line with School Policy, students cannot pass the course on the first attempt if a component piece of assessed work is submitted and marked 0-5. The student must then take the resit in order to pass the course. Failure to submit a component piece of assessed work, or submitting a token piece, will result in the withdrawal of the class certificate.