Topics in Metaphysics

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that is interested in what the world is like. It deals with several general questions about the fundamental nature of reality. Questions such as: what is time? Do we have free will? What are properties? What are numbers?

In this course we will approach four different and related topics in metaphysics:

  • Identity over time. You are different from how you were, say, 7 years ago. Very different from that person in the past. You grew up, you maybe don't live in the same place where you lived 7 years ago, you don't like what you used to like, your knowledge increased, and your body changed almost entirely. Almost all the cells making up your body 7 years ago are gone for good. Can we say that despite all this change you are still the same person. And if yes, how so?
  • Objects are made of parts. Everyone who bought furniture at IKEA knows that very well. Take the legs, the top and the stretchers before you assemble them. Is that already a table? Or you need to wait and assemble it before having a table? This part investigates when two or more objects compose a further object.
  • Physics teaches us many things. For instance, it tells us that electrons must repel each other, because there is a law of nature that dictates so. Where does this `must' come from? What is the source of this necessity? This part investigates what it is for something to be a law of nature.
  • The quest for truthmakers. The statements we make are sometimes true, and sometimes false. What is it exactly that makes our statements true or false?

This course will present different views from contemporary philosophy on the previous problems. We will see how philosophers are in debate with each other on these issues.

Giacomo Andreoletti:

Giacomo Andreoletti studied philosophy at the State University of Milan (Italy). While working on his bachelor's and master's degrees, he primarily focused on the philosophy of language, working on the problem of propositional attitude reports. In May 2017, he was awarded a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Human Sciences by the State University of Milan. While completing his doctoral studies, he spent two semesters as a visiting scholar at Columbia University. Giacomo is currently a senior member of the Centre for Philosophy of Time at the University of Milan and a researcher in the Chronos project "Rethinking and Communicating Time" at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain).