University at Buffalo, Spring 2003, Topics in Ontology

Fridays, 10-12a.m., room 280

New schedule:
14/2/03: Carving Up Reality, slides,
21/2/03: The Existence of God, slides
28/2/03: Event Causation, slides
7/3/02: Agent Causation, slides

Come back to this page, I shall update it regularly.

On Wednesday, 26 February, 10am, and Monday, 3 March, 10am, we meet in room 280 for discussion.

You can contact me at any time by or telephone (645-2444-119), or come to my office, room 119 (Corcoran's office). Feel free to ask question, discuss, etc., that's why I am here. I am here till 9 March.


Write two essays, answering questions from the list below, or choose another question and contact me. The first one to warm up, not more than 2000 words; as soon as possible, at the latest till 25 February. The second one not more than 3000 words, if possible till 4 March, so that I have time to discuss it with you (I leave on 9 March). If that is too soon for you let me know. If you have time to write only one essay let me know.

Guidelines for essays

Essay questions

1. Carving up reality; things and properties;

Are the properties of particular things themselves particular?

Are some ways of carving up reality better than other ones?


On the question of how to carve up reality see Campbell 1990 and Wachter 2000 (see below). (On "determinate conditions of diachronic identity" see: Lowe 1995 "The Metaphysics of Abstract Objects", JP 92, 511; and Lowe 1994 "Primitive Substances", PPR 54, 533.)

Some relevant texts you find in Metaphysics anthologies, e.g. ed. van Inwagen, ed Kim, ed. Laurence. See my metaphysics reading list. HTML

Further reading:

2. The Existence of God

A good introduction is: R. Swinburne, Is There a God. (More rigorous is his The Existence of God)


Is the existence of the universe evidence for the existence of God? Is the order in the universe evidence for the existence of God? Does the existence of evil in the world show that there is no God? Can religious experience support theism?

For references see my philosophy of religion reading list (DOC; HTML), topics 6-8.

3. Event causation

What is it for one thing to cause another? Do causes necessitate their effects? Is causation analysable?

4. Agent causation

Are all causes events? Are there two kinds of causation? Do free actions involve a different kind of causation than non-free actions?

See my: 2002, "Agent Causation: Before and After the Ontological Turn", Proceedings of the International Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg, August 2002 DOC, HTML.

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