Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Overview

Metaphysics is the study of stuff in the most abstract and fundamental sense. Metaphysicians ask, with hopefully a bit more sophistication, the kinds of questions little kids often wonder about. This might seem trivial, but the puzzles are genuine and hard! Here are a few that we'll think about in this class:

What exists? I'd like to think I do. But what about Sherlock Holmes? How many things exist? Well, there are clouds in the sky. How many? It's tough to say: Their boundaries are fuzzy.

What is time? Does it pass? Can we travel to the past? What would that even mean?

What am I? Am I my body? Am I my mind? Can I survive being teleported, if that involves an instantaneous molecule-by-molecule reconstruction of me in some distant location? What if the original "me" is still around after the reconstruction?


MIT students were required to take one philosophy course prior to this one.


Class participation 10%
Problem set 1 15%
Problem set 2 15%
Problem set 3 15%
Final paper 45%


1–5 Ontology  
6–8 Time Problem Set 1 due on session 6
9–12 Identity Problem Set 2 due on session 12
13–16 Modality  
17–19 Free Will Problem Set 3 due on session 19
20–22 Causation Final Paper Outline due on session 21
23–25 Ontology, reconsidered Final Paper due on session 25