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Metaphysics, at least roughly speaking, is the systematic investigation of fundamental presuppositions underlying commonsense and scientific views of the world. Most of us believe that we have bodies and minds, that we are free, that some things in the world are composed of other things and that these things interact causally with one another; we believe that, in addition to the "way things are", there are other ways things could have been, and so on. Common sense tells us that things change and time passes, but contemporary physics tells us (or seems to tell us) that past, present, and future are somehow metaphysically on a par—that the past isn’t "gone" and the future is "already" real. Common sense and science both take it for granted that the world is governed by laws, and that the laws in some sense represent how things must go in the world (as opposed simply to telling us how they in fact happen to go). Metaphysicians investigate all of these assumptions, and more. They ask what it is to be a body or a mind, and what the relation between body and mind might be; they ask what freedom consists in, and whether freedom is possible; they ask about the nature and possibility of causation, change, and the passage of time; they try to figure out what it takes to be a law of nature and whether the laws of nature might be necessary or contingent; and so on.

This four-volume collection will gather together many of the most important classic and contemporary writings on these and other central topics in metaphysics. Unlike some of the other collections in this series, the classic writings will not occupy their own volume (or even their own section); rather, they will be sprinkled throughout as appropriate to the topics under consideration. Below is a tentative list of volume-titles, along with select tentative section headings (to give some indication of the topics that will be covered in each volume).


Vol. I: Foundations

• Meta-Ontology

• Propositions, States of Affairs, and Events

• Universals, Properties, and Kinds

• Substances, Bundles, and Substrata

Vol. II: Metaphysics of Modality

• Possible Worlds

• Actualism and Possibilism

• Essentialism

• Causation and Laws of Nature

• Reduction and Supervenience

Vol. III: Time and Identity

• Time

• Individuation

• Composition and Material Constitution

• Change and Persistence

• Realism, Anti-Realism, and Vagueness

Vol. IV: God and Persons

• The Existence of God

• Mind and Body

• Personhood and the Self

• Fatalism, Determinism, and Free Agency

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415397513
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 5/28/2008
  • Series: Critical Concepts in Philosophy Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 2106
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 5.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Rea is Associate Professor of Philosophy, Center for Philosophy of Religion, Dept of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, specialising in metaphysics and philosophy of religion. He is currently working on An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion for Cambridge University Press and a handbook for Oxford University Press on philosophical theology.

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Table of Contents

Volume I: Foundations

General Introduction


Part 1: Metaontology

1. Rudolf Carnap, ‘Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology’, Meaning and Necessity: A Study in Semantics and Modal Logic (University of Chicago Press, 1956), pp. 205–21.

2. W. V. Quine, ‘On What There Is’, The Review of Metaphysics, 2 (1948): 21–38.

3. David and Stephanie Lewis, ‘Holes’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 48 (1970): 206–12.

4. Terence Parsons, ‘Are there Nonexistent Objects?’, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, 19 (1982): 365–71.

5. Peter van Inwagen, ‘MetaOntology’, Erkenntnis, 48 (1998): 233–50.

6. Stephen Yablo, ‘Does Ontology Rest on a Mistake’, Aristotelian Society Supp., 72 (1998): 229–61.

Part 2: Properties and Universals

7. Bertrand Russell, ‘The World of Universals’, The Problems of Philosophy (Clarendon Press, 1912), pp. 91–100.

8. H. H. Price, ‘Universals and Resemblance’, Thinking and Experience (Harvard University Press, 1962), pp. 7–32.

9. Nelson Goodman, ‘A World of Individuals’, in Bochenski, Church, and Goodman (eds.), The Problem of Universals (University of Notre Dame Press, 1956), pp. 13–31.

10. Keith Campbell, ‘The Metaphysic of Abstract Particulars’, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 6 (1981): 477–88.

11. David Armstrong, ‘Universals as Attributes’, Universals: An Opinionated Introduction (Westview Press, 1989), 75–112.

12. David Lewis, ‘Modal Realism at Work: Properties’, On the Plurality of Worlds (Blackwell Publishing, 1986), 50–69.

13. George Bealer, ‘Universals’, Journal of Philosophy, 90 (1993): 5–32.

14. Peter van Inwagen, ‘A Theory of Properties’, Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, 1 (2004): 107–38.

Part 3: Propositions, States of Affairs, and Events

15. Gottlob Frege, ‘The Thought: A Logical Inquiry’, trans. A. M. and Marcelle Quinton, Mind, 65 (1956): 289–311.

16. Richard Cartwright, ‘Propositions’, in R. J. Butler (ed.), Analytical Philosophy (Blackwell, 1962), pp. 81–103.

17. D. M. Armstrong, ‘A World of States of Affairs’, Philosophical Perspectives, 7 (1993): 429–40.

18. Roderick Chisholm, ‘States of Affairs’, Person and Object (Open Court, 1976), pp. 114–37.

19. Jaegwon Kim, ‘Events as Property Exemplifications’, in M. Brand and D. Walton (eds.), Action Theory (D. Reidel, 1975), pp. 159–77.

20. Donald Davidson, ‘On the Individuation of Events’, in N. Rescher (ed.), Essays in Honor of Carl G. Hempel (Reidel, 1969), pp. 216–34.

21. Jonathan Bennett, ‘What Events Are’, in R. Casati and A. C. Varzi (eds.), Events (Dartmouth, 1996), pp. 137–51.

Volume II: Modality and Modal Structure I


Part 4: Possible Worlds

22. Saul Kripke, ‘Semantical Considerations on Modal Logic’, Acta Philosophica Fennica, 16 (1963): 83–94.

23. David K. Lewis, ‘Possible Worlds’, On the Plurality of Worlds (Blackwell, 1996), pp. 1–20, 86–96.

24. D. M. Armstrong, ‘The Nature of Possibility’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 16, 4 (1987): 575–94.

25. Peter van Inwagen, ‘Two Concepts of Possible Worlds’, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 9 (1986): 185–213.

26. Gideon Rosen, ‘Modal Fictionalism’, Mind, 99 (1990): 327–54.

Part 5: De Re Modality

27. W. V. Quine, ‘Reference and Modality’, From a Logical Point of View (Harvard University Press, 1980), pp. 139–59.

28. David Lewis, ‘Counterparts or Double Lives’, Plurality of Worlds (Blackwell, 1986), pp. 192–8, 248–63.

29. Saul Kripke, ‘Identity and Necessity’, in M. K. Munitz (ed.), Identity and Individuation (New York University Press, 1971), pp. 135–64.

30. Alvin Plantinga, ‘Actualism and Possible Worlds’, Theoria, 42 (1976): 139–60.

31. Timothy Williamson, ‘Necessary Existents’, in A. O’Hear (ed.), Logic, Thought and Language, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement (Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 233–51.

Part 6: Time

32. J. Ellis McTaggart, ‘The Unreality of Time’, Mind, 17 (1908): 457–74.

33. C. D. Broad, ‘McTaggart’s Arguments Against the Reality of Time’, Examination of McTaggart’s Philosophy, vol. 2 (Cambridge University Press, 1938), pp. 309–19.

34. Donald C. Williams, ‘The Myth of Passage’, Journal of Philosophy, 48 (1951): 457–72.

35. A. N. Prior, ‘Thank Goodness That’s Over!’, Philosophy, 34 (1959): 12–17.

36. John Bigelow, ‘Presentism and Properties’, Philosophical Perspectives, 10 (1996): 35–52.

37. Theodore Sider, ‘Against Presentism’, Four Dimensionalism (Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 11–53.

38. Thomas M. Crisp, ‘Presentism and the Grounding Objection’, Nous, 41, 1 (2007): 90–109.

Volume III: Modality and Modal Structure II


Part 1: Laws of Nature

39. F. P. Ramsey, ‘Law and Causality’, in D. H. Mellor (ed.), Philosophical Papers (Cambridge University Press, 1990), 140–63.

40. David Lewis, ‘Humean Supervenience De-Bugged’, Mind, 103 (1994): 473–90.

41. Fred Dretske, ‘Laws of Nature’, Philosophy of Science, 44 (1977): 248–68.

42. D. M. Armstrong, ‘Laws of Nature as Relations Between Universals, and as Universals’, Philosophical Topics, 13 (1982): 7–24.

43. Chris Swoyer, ‘The Nature of Natural Laws’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 60 (1982): 203–23.

44. Bas C. van Fraassen, ‘Armstrong on Laws and Probabilities’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 65 (1987): 243–60.

Part 8: Causality

45. J. L. Mackie, ‘Causes and Conditions’, American Philosophical Quarterly, 2 (1965): 245–64.

46. G. E. M. Anscombe, ‘Causality and Determination’, in E. Sosa (ed.), Causation and Conditionals (Oxford University Press, 1975), pp. 63–81.

47. Wesley Salmon, ‘Probabilistic Causality’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 61 (1980): 50–74.

48. Michael Tooley, ‘Laws and Causal Relations’, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 9 (1984): 93–112.

49. David Lewis, ‘Causation’, Philosophical Papers 2 (Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 159–213.

50. Jonathan Schaffer, ‘Trumping Preemption’, Journal of Philosophy, 97 (2000): 165–81.

51. David Lewis, ‘Causation as Influence’, Journal of Philosophy, 97 (2000): 182–97.

Part 9: Ontological Relativity

52. W. V. Quine, ‘Ontological Relativity’, Journal of Philosophy, 65 (1968): 185–212.

53. Nelson Goodman, ‘Words, Works, Worlds’, Erkenntnis, 9 (1975): 57–73.

54. Hilary Putnam, ‘Is There Anything to Say About Reality and Truth’, The Many Faces of Realism (Open Court, 1987), pp. 3–21.

55. Ernest Sosa, ‘Existential Relativity’, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 22 (1999): 132–43.

56. Eli Hirsch, ‘Quantifier Variance and Realism’, Philosophical Issues, 12 (2002): 51–73.

Volume IV: The Metaphysics of Material Objects I: Identity and Individuation


Part 10: Individuation

57. Max Black, ‘The Identity of Indiscernibles’, Mind, 61 (1952): 153–64.

58. Edwin Allaire, ‘Bare Particulars’, Philosophical Studies, 14 (1963): 1–8.

59. Michael Loux, ‘Toward a Substance-Theory of Substance’, Substance and Attribute (D. Reidel, 1978), pp. 153–80.

60. James van Cleve, ‘Three Versions of the Bundle Theory’, Philosophical Studies, 47 (1985): 95–107.

61. Robert Adams, ‘Primitive Thisness and Primitive Identity’, Journal of Philosophy, 76 (1979): 5–26.

62. C. B. Martin, ‘Substance Substantiated’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 58 (1980): 3–10.

63. John O’Leary Hawthorne and Jan A. Cover, ‘A World of Universals’, Philosophical Studies, 91 (1998): 205–19.

64. Dean Zimmerman, ‘Distinct Indiscernibles and the Bundle Theory’, Mind, 106 (1997): 305–9.

65. J. P. Moreland, ‘Theories of Individuation: Another Look at Bare Particulars’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 79 (1998): 251–63.

Part 11: Change and Persistence

66. David Lewis, ‘The Problem of Temporary Intrinsics’, On the Plurality of Worlds (Blackwell, 1986), pp. 202–4.

67. Peter van Inwagen, ‘Four Dimensional Objects’, Nous, 24 (1990): 245–55.

68. Sally Haslanger, ‘Endurance and Temporary Intrinsics’, Analysis, 49 (1989): 119–25.

69. Trenton Merricks, ‘Endurance and Indiscernibility’, Journal of Philosophy, 91 (1994): 165–84.

70. Dean Zimmerman, ‘Temporary Intrinsics and Presentism’, in Peter van Inwagen and Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Metaphysics: The Big Questions (Blackwell, 1989), pp. 206–19.

71. Theodore Sider, ‘Four-Dimensionalism’, Philosophical Review, 106 (1997): 197–231.

72. Theodore Sider, ‘All the World’s A Stage’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 74 (1996): 433–53.

73. Sydney Shoemaker, ‘Identity, Properties, and Causality’, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 4 (1979): 321–42.

Part 12: Personal Identity

74. Bernard Williams, ‘The Self and the Future’, Philosophical Review, 79 (1970): 161–80.

75. Derek Parfit, ‘Personal Identity’, Philosophical Review, 80 (1971): 3–27.

76. David Lewis, ‘Survival and Identity’ (with postscripts), in Amelie Rorty (ed.), Identities of Persons (UCLA Press, 1976), pp. 317–41.

77. Richard Swinburne, ‘Empiricist Theories’, Personal Identity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984), pp. 3–34.

Volume V: The Metaphysics of Material Objects II: Composition and Vagueness


Part 13: Composition

78. Richard Cartwright, ‘Scattered Objects’, in Keith Lehrer (ed.), Analysis and Metaphysics (Reidel, 1975), pp. 153–71.

79. Peter van Inwagen, ‘The Special Composition Question’, Material Beings (Cornell University Press, 1990), pp. 81–94, 98–123, 288–9.

80. Peter Unger, ‘The Problem of the Many’, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 5 (1980): 411–25, 429–34, 441–51.

81. Hud Hudson, ‘The Many Problematic Solutions to the Problem of the Many’, A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person (Cornel University Press, 2001), pp. 11–44.

82. Kit Fine, ‘Things and their Parts’, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 23 (1999): 61–74.

Part 14: Material Constitution

83. Michael Rea, ‘The Problem of Material Constitution’, The Philosophical Review, 104 (1995): 525–52.

84. Judith Jarvis Thomson, ‘Parthood and Identity Across Time’, Journal of Philosophy, 80 (1983): 201–20.

85. Roderick Chisholm, ‘Identity Through Time’, Person and Object: A Metaphysical Study (Open Court Publishing, 1979), pp. 89–113.

86. Allan Gibbard, ‘Contingent Identity’, Journal of Philosophical Logic, 4 (1975): 187–221.

87. Michael Burke, ‘Dion and Theon: An Essentialist Solution to an Ancient Puzzle’, Journal of Philosophy, 91 (1994): 129–39.

88. Stephen Yablo, ‘Identity, Essence and Indiscernability’, Journal of Philosophy, 84 (1987): 293–314.

89. L. A. Paul, ‘Logical Parts’, Nous, 36 (2002): 578–96.

Part 15: Vagueness

90. Kit Fine, ‘Vagueness, Truth, and Logic’, Synthese, 30 (1975): 265–300.

91. Gareth Evans, ‘Can There Be Vague Objects?’, Analysis, 38 (1978): 208.

92. Peter Unger, ‘I Do Not Exist’, in G. F. McDonald (ed.), Perception and Identity (Macmillan Press, 1979), pp. 235–51.

93. David Lewis, ‘Vague Identity: Evans Misunderstood’, Analysis, 48 (1988): 128–30.

94. Peter van Inwagen, ‘How to Reason about Vague Objects’, Philosophical Topics, 16 (1988): 255–84.

95. Mark Sainsbury, ‘Is there Higher Order Vagueness?’, Philosophical Quarterly, 41 (1991): 167–82.

96. Timothy Williamson, ‘Vagueness and Ignorance’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supp., 66 (1992): 145–62.

97. Roy Sorensen, ‘The Metaphysics of Words’, Philosophical Studies, 81 (1996): 193–214.

98. Dorothy Edgington, ‘Vagueness by Degrees’, in Rosanna Keefe and Peter Smith (eds.), Vagueness: A Reader (MIT Press, 1996), pp. 294–316.

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