David W. Agler


This is a first course in philosophy. In the course, we will investigate a number of traditional topics in one branch of philosophy: metaphysics

The primary (content-specific) goals of this course are to develop the ability to articulate, well-reasoned, and defensible answers to the above questions:

(1) What is metaphysics and how does it differ from other academic disciplines (both philosophical and non-philosophical)?
(2) Is freedom compatible with determinism?
(3) What is a person and how does one and the same person persist through time?
(4) How does the mind relate to the body?
(5) What is a physical object and how do the parts of a physical object relate to the whole? (6) How do words refer to things?
(6) What is the nature of time and how does it compare to our conception of space?
(7) Does God exist and is it rational to believe that God exists?

The secondary goals of this course are the following:

(1) develop the ability to write in a concise, organized, and professional manner
(2) develop the ability to present and justify various opinions on philosophical topics
(3) learn how to write an argumentative paper

Writing Handouts


Summer 2011
Spring 2009



H0: Getting To Know You
H1: Metaphysics & Modality
H2: Ontology & Ontological Commitment

Freedom and Determinism

H3: Freedom, Determinism, & Hard Determinism
H4: Compatibilism and Incompatibilism
H5: Indeterminism

Personal Identity

H6: The Problem of Personal Identity
H7: Physicalist and Soulful Approaches to Personal Identity
H8: Psychological and Biological Theories of Personal Identity
H9: Personal Identity Game (#9a: Buying Transportation Machines; #9b: Selling Transportation Machines; #9c: Rules of Play)

Mental States

H10: The Mind Body Problem and Dualist Theories
H11: Materialist Theories and Objections to Dualism
H12: Dualistic Interactionalism and Physical Indeterminism

Physical Objects

H13: Physical Objects & the Special Composition Question
H14: Answers to the Special Composition Question
H15: The Objection from Vagueness and Universalism


H16: McTaggart's Argument Against the Reality of Time
H17: A&B Responses to McTaggart, Rate of Passage Argument, Special Relativity
H18: "Thank Goodness", 4D, and Temporary Intrinsics
H19: Thomson Against 4D, Presentism, Eternalism, & the Growing Universe Theory


H20: The Ontological Argument (#20a: The Ontological Argument, #20b: Review and Two Objections)
H21: Teleological Arguments
H22: Cosmological Arguments
H23: Pragmatic Arguments
H24: The Conversion Game (#24a: Buying Tickets to the Afterlife; #24b: Selling Tickets to the Afterlife; #24c: Rules of Play)

Writing Handouts

Short Paper#1: Freedom & Moral Responsibility, Personal Identity, Mental States, or Material Objects
Short Paper#2: Time or God
Writing Checklists