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. During his BA and MA, he mostly focused on philosophy of language working on the problem of propositional attitude reports. He achieved his PhD in Philosophy and Human Sciences at the State University of Milan in May 2017 under the supervision of Dr. Giuliano Torrengo. He also spent two semesters as a visiting scholar at Columbia University (sponsor and supervisor: Prof. Achille Varzi). His dissertation on the metaphysics of time and fatalism addressed issues related to time, free will, time travel, and the (un)changeability of past and future. A list of publications can be found here. Giacomo is also a senior member of the CPT (Centre for Philosophy of Time).