History of contemporary metaphysics

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to allow the students to acquire the theoretical, methodological and critical tools characterizing the metaphysical studies, together with a sound general knowledge of the historical evolution in contemporary era. To comply with the typically interdisciplinary character of philosophical research, the course considers the ever-closer relationships that metaphysics and ontology developed with other philosophical and scientific disciplines, with innovative applications that are also practical.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course, the student
- understands the lexicon and knows the methods, the purpose and the research topics of metaphysics
- understands the historical and theoretical meaning of the texts (also in their original language) and the transformations of traditions, concepts and argumentative forms within the discipline
- masters a systematic and in-depth knowledge of the history of contemporary metaphysics, acquired through the reading of the texts and the study of secondary literature
- has proficient knowledge of the bibliographic resources and methodological tools characterising the research in contemporary metaphysics

Ability to apply knowledge and understanding
At the end of the study path, the student
- can soundly and adequately make use of the philosophical lexicon
- is able to follow and evaluate the contemporary debate in metaphysics and to apply the acquired knowledge on the historical development of the argumentative forms and traditions of thought to the analysis of new texts and philosophical proposals in the field
- is able to acknowledge the transformation of classical paradigms, traditions and perspectives
- is able to connect the contemporary debate in metaphysics with other philosophical and scientific disciplines
- is confident and autonomous in the application of the different paradigms in metaphysics to different topics and new problems
- can master and apply the methodological resources and bibliographic tools of historical-philosophical research and can produce original research, discussing the results obtained and presenting them to others, both specialists and non-specialists
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
During the emergency phase, the course will be delivered in a synchronous / asynchronous mixed mode. The asynchronous lessons consist of videolessons available on the Ariel webpage and the synchronous lessons have a seminarial nature and provide discussions and insights on the topics addressed by the asynchronous lessons, previously uploaded to Ariel. The synchronous lessons will be held on Microsoft Teams. Also on Ariel will be made available: the lesson plan with the division between synchronous / asynchronous lessons, asynchronous videolessons with powerpoint presentation and audio / video commentary, readings in pdf, recordings of the synchronous lesson held on Teams. The exam is oral and is held on Teams, according to the indications provided by the University. On the Ariel webpage, the details and calendars of the oral examinations are published and constantly updated.
Course syllabus
In the institutional part, the tools, lexicon and fundamental notions of contemporary metaphysics and ontology are introduced and some applications of philosophical ontology are presented. In the historical part, the affirmation of the so-called "standard paradigm" in ontology is reconstructed in the face of the neo-positivist veto against metaphysics. Finally, some alternative proposals are analyzed, including grounding theories and neo-Aristotelianism. There are no additional didactic activities or exercises.
Prerequisites for admission
The course requires a good knowledge of the terminology of philosophy and a basic knowledge of the authors and main currents of contemporary philosophy, with particular reference to kantianism and neokantianism, logical neo-empiricism and analytic philosophy.
Teaching methods
The course of History of Contemporary Metaphysics will introduce students to key problems and authors of contemporary Metaphysics, Ontology. This year, the monographic course intends to present the contemporary debate in ontology from a meta-theoretical and foundational perspective with particular attention to the most recent developments and to the possible applications of the methods and results of philosophical ontology also to non-philosophical disciplines and theories. Contemporary metaphysics and ontology have specialized exponentially and require advanced specific skills. On the other hand, ontology has developed ever-closer relationships with other philosophical and scientific disciplines, with innovative applications that are also practical.
Teaching Resources

P. Valore, L'inventario del mondo. Guida allo studio dell'ontologia, UTET, Torino 2008, Part I: "Lessico di base"; Part II: "Strumenti" (pp. 3-78); Part III: "Categorie" (pp. 79-143); Parte VI: "Esistenza" (pp. 195-234); Part VII: "Entità" (pp. 235-296).

R. Carnap, "Il superamento della metafisica mediante l'analisi logica del linguaggio", in Il neoempirismo logico, a cura di A. Pasquinelli, UTET, Torino 1969, pp.504-540; R. Carnap, "Empirismo, semantica e ontologia", in Significato e necessità, a cura di F. Priore, presentazione di A. Pasquinelli, trad. it. di A. Berra, La Nuova Italia, Firenze 1976; W.V. Quine, "Che cosa c'è" e "Due dogmi dell'empirismo", in W.V. Quine, Da un punto di vista logico. Saggi logico-filosofici, a cura di P. Valore, Cortina, Milano 2004, pp. 13-33 e pp. 35-65.


From Metametaphysics. New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology, edited by D. Chalmers, D. Manley, and R. Wasserman, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2009: H. Price, "Metaphysics after Carnap: The Ghost Who Walks?", pp. 320-346; K. Fine, "The Question of Ontology", pp. 158-177; J. Schaffer, "On What Grounds What, pp. 347-383.

Students who cannot actively participate in synchronous lessons are required to read also: E. Hirsch, "Ontology and Alternative Languages", in Metametaphysics. New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology, edited by D. Chalmers, D. Manley, and R. Wasserman, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2009, pp. 231-259.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam will be the same for all students, regardless of the attendance of synchronous lectures. It consists of an oral interview on the topics of the course, during which the candidate must demonstrate mastery not only of the contents but also, and above all, of the argumentative styles typical of the contemporary metaphysical debate, evaluating the favorable arguments and against and the costs and benefits of the individual theoretical proposals. For students attending the synchronous lectures: at the beginning of the course and at the end of each teaching unit, a multiple-choice self-assessment test will be distributed, to be completed anonymously, the results of which will be discussed during the lectures. For students that cannot attend the class: there will be a recording of the synchronous lectures. National and international students or Erasmus visiting students are invited to make timely contact with the course professor. The examination procedures for students with disabilities and / or with DSA must be agreed with the teacher, in agreement with the competent Office.
Unita' didattica A
M-FIL/06 - HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
M-FIL/06 - HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
M-FIL/06 - HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Office hours are provided via Microsoft Teams
The teacher can be contacted for remote reception via institutional email