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This will be a philosophy course on the topic of ontology and metaontology. Ontology is a branch of philosophy (in particular, of metaphysics) concerned with questions of existence. Important ontological questions include the following: Are there any such things as abstract objects (i.e., non-physical, non-mental, non-spatiotemporal objects)? Are there are any such things as past and future objects, or are all objects presently existing objects? Are there any such things as 4-dimensional objects, i.e., objects with temporal as well as spatial extension? Are there any such things as 3-dimensional coincident objects?; i.e., are there any pairs of 3-dimensional objects that are located in the exact same place and composed of the exact same parts (or made of the exact same physical stuff)? Are there any such things as composite objects, i.e., objects with proper parts? Are there any such things as merely possible objects, or are all objects actually existing objects? Are there any such things as Gods or non-physical souls?
Ontology is currently booming in philosophy. After going through a period of neglect during the middle of the 20th Century (largely because of the anti-metaphysical attacks of the logical positivists), ontology is currently going through a period of extreme resurgence. It would not be an exaggeration to say that we are currently in the Golden Age (or at least a golden age) of ontology.
There has also been a lot of recent interest in metaontology. Metaontology is a branch of philosophy that raises questions about ontological questions. For example, if OQ is some specific ontological question--e.g., the question of whether there are any such things as abstract objects, or whatever--then metaontological questions about OQ will include the following: Is OQ trivial or substantive? Is OQ a genuinely factual question with a uniquely correct answer? Could humans ever know the answer to OQ?--i.e., could they know whether objects of the given kind exist?--and if so, how? What is the best semantic theory of ordinary and/or philosophical discourse about objects of the kind that OQ asks about?
There is a lot of cutting-edge research going on today in both ontology and metaontology, and our course will introduce students to these areas of philosophy and delve deeply into numerous questions and issues surrounding these areas. There will be six faculty members, and each faculty member will give two lectures on different topics. Thus, students will study and be exposed to a large number of different issues and questions in ontology and metaontology.