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PH997-30 Topics in Metaphysics and Epistemology

Taught Postgraduate Level
Module leader
Thomas Crowther
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

PH997 Topics in Metaphysics and Epistemology

Module web page

Module aims

This module will offer students critical engagement with selected central topics in Metaphysics and Epistemology through the careful study and discussion of seminal articles in the area. Students will be expected to engage critically with the main arguments of the selected texts, and articulate their own views of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the arguments presented.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

This module begins by discussing problems concerning material persistence through time, and the disputes between 'endurantist' and 'temporal parts' ontologies. It goes on to consider questions about whether the debate between endurantists and their opponents has been satisfactorily conceived in the literature. In the second part of the module, attention turns to the philosophy of process: to different views about the nature of processes, the relation between processes and events, and to questions concerning whether processes 'endure' as material objects do on an endurantist ontology. We will assess whether reflection on the category of process enables us to better understand what 'endurance' and 'endurantism' is.


Week 1. Introduction to the module
Week 2. Problems of persistence
Week 3. Presentism and persistence
Week 4. A puzzle about endurance and endurantism
Week 5. Introducing process and activity
Week 6. No seminar
Week 7. Mourelatos on processes, events and states
Week 8. Processes as continuants
Week 9. Against processes as continuants
Week 10. Endurance and continuanthood again

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • By the end of the module the student should be able to have a systematic and advanced understanding and knowledge of the texts covered in the module, the main arguments of the texts, and critical responses to those arguments.
  • By the end of the module the student should be able to communicate at an advanced level clearly and substantively in speech and in writing on the questions addressed in the module. They should be able to provide critical analysis of the relevant texts.
  • By the end of the module the student should be able to work autonomously to articulate their own view of the relative merits of arguments, methodologies and positions in the literature, and engage critically with other points of view.
  • Students should be able to demonstrate the skills involved in philosophical discussion, they will have improved abilities to analyse and critically asses complex concepts and arguments. They will be able to communicate at an advanced level clearly and substantively in speech, as well as in writing, the philosophical arguments and concepts covered in the texts. They will be able to demonstrate sound judgement and initiative in selecting appropriate texts and methods for their investigation of a specifically circumscribed problem and should have acquired an advanced ability to pursue and organize philosophical research using a range of sources (print and electronic media), documenting research carefully, and showing the ability to engage independently in philosophical debate.
Indicative reading list

D. Wiggins, 1995 ‘Substance’ in Grayling (ed.)
D. Wiggins. 2001. Sameness and Substance Renewed.
D. Lewis. 1986. On the Plurality of Worlds
Johnston, M. 1987 ‘Is there a Problem about Persistence?’ Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society
Zimmerman, Dean. 2005. ‘Temporary Intrinsics and Presentism’. In S. Haslanger and R. Kurtz, (eds.) Persistence, Cambridge, Mass: M.I.T.
Hofweber, T and Velleman, D. 2010. ‘How to Endure’, The Philosophical Quarterly.
Vendler, Z. 1957. ‘Verbs and Times’, The Philosophical Review
Mourelatos, A. 1978. ‘Events, Processes and States’, Linguistics and Philosophy
Stout, R. 2016. ‘The Category of Occurent Continuants’
Stout. R. 1997. 'Processes', Philosophy.
Crowther, T. 2018. ‘Processes as Continuants and Process as Stuff’. In Dorsch, F and Macpherson, F. (eds.) Phenomenal Presence. Oxford, O.U.P.
Crowther, T. 2011. 'The Matter of Events', The Review of Metaphysics, Vol.65, No.1
Crowther, T. (unpublished ms to be circulated) Endurance, Process and Consciousness.

Subject specific skills

(i) The capacity to read classic and contemporary works of metaphysics, concerning the metaphysics of identity and persistence, and the metaphysics of process, and to understand key ideas in those texts.
(ii) The capacity to explain key arguments found in classic and contemporary metaphysical texts focusing on the metaphysics of identity and persistence, and the metaphysics of process.
(iii) To develop an appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of these arguments, and to be able to communicate these strengths and weaknesses in written and oral work.
(iv) To work effectively with peers in group-oriented work on metaphysics, and to communicate and think about metaphysics in a seminar environment

Transferable skills

(i) To acquire the capacity to read difficult material effectively and critically.
(ii) To develop the capacity to explain demanding ideas and arguments clearly, briefly and accurately.
(iii) To think creatively about problems by deploying the capacity for clear thinking and reasoning
(iv) To work collaboratively and sensitively with others in a group environment, and to develop the self-confidence to communicate effectively in a group environment.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 9 sessions of 1 hour (3%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (3%)
Private study 282 hours (94%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

No private study requirements defined for this module.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group A2
Weighting Study time
7500 word essay 100%
Feedback on assessment

Feedback on essays will be provided on the coversheet for the essay, addressing standard areas
of evaluation and individual content.


This module is Option list A for:

  • TPHA-V7PN Postgraduate Taught Philosophy and the Arts
    • Year 1 of V7PN Philosophy and the Arts
    • Year 2 of V7PN Philosophy and the Arts