A lecture-and-discussion course on the nature and prospects of metaphysical understanding of the world. Does metaphysics seek a conception of what is really so or how things really are independently of all the ways we think of or experience them? What, if anything, can be discovered about such a world? How are conclusions about it to be reached? We will concentrate on questions about the independent metaphysical reality of (1) the colors of things (2) the relation of cause and effect (2) the necessity with which certain things must be so (4) the goodness or badness or other evaluative qualities of things.
Familiarity with the history of modern philosophy (especially Hume and Kant) will be taken for granted. Extensive reading and discussion of difficult abstract philosophical material is required, along with clear, careful writing of several focussed critical papers throughout the semester.
An upper-division course not recommended for students still near the beginning of their study of philosophy.
READING: Philosophy 125 Reader; Barry Stroud, The Quest for Reality: Subjectivism and the Metaphysics of Colour (Oxford University Press); Barry Stroud, Engagement and Metaphysical Dissatisfaction: Modality and Value (Oxford University Press)