PhD in Philosophy, Yale University, 2011
MA in Philosophy, Arizona State University, 2004
BA in Philosophy, Arizona State University, 2000
PHI275: Topics in Metaphysics: Sometimes it is said that metaphysics is the study of the most general features of the world or that metaphysics addresses fundamental questions about the ultimate nature of reality. "ese descriptions of metaphysics are broad and vague. As such, they are not all that helpful to someone who wants to know what exactly metaphysics is. But this question--“What exactly is metaphysics?”--doesn’t have a precise answer; there is no precise de#nition of metaphysics. But definition isn’t the only means of clari#cation. Examples o$en help. "ere is perhaps no exact and precise de#nition of ‘red’. But we can clarify what the word means by pointing to examples of red things. Likewise, while there is no exact and precise definition of ‘metaphysics’, we can clarify what the word means by pointing to examples of topics in metaphysics. "is course will introduce to you to seven topics in metaphysics: Personal Identity, Time, Constitution, Possibility and Necessity, Causation, Free Will and Determinism, and Universals. It is my hope that by working through these topics, you will acquire a good understanding of the nature of metaphysics and an appreciation for the subject as well.
PHI 331 Free Will: It would be strange if something happened without any cause whatsoever. Events have causes, right? If every event has a cause, then our actions have causes. But if our actions have causes how can we be free to act as we choose? How can an action be free yet have a cause? Maybe we are the cause of our free actions. Maybe, but hasn’t science shown that the underlying causes, the real causes, of things have nothing to do with us but everything to do with the laws of nature and the behavior of really tiny particles? So, we are not the real cause of our actions. But then how can we have free will? If we don’t have free will, how can we be morally responsible for what we do? Doesn’t moral responsibility require free will?
PHI 336: Metaphysics: Metaphysics asks what the most general features of the world are, why there is a world that has those features and how e human beings fit into that world. Examples of topics to be considered include: Is there a real, physical world outside the mind? What is the nature of time? What is required for things to persist through time? What is the nature of causation? Why does anything at all exist? Have we free will?