Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PHIL 451: Metaphysics

PHIL 451: Metaphysics

The Generic Catalog Description

This course may be an account of a metaphysical system or a survey of such systems. It may be an examination of issues such as causality or substance, or an examination of the question of the legitimacy and nature of metaphysical thinking.

PHIL 451: Metaphysics

David Yandell

This is a course in analytic metaphysics focusing on a set of issues concerning the nature of God (in particular, God as conceived within Christian philosophical and theological thought, though many of the issues we discuss also arise within other monotheistic traditions) and (in some cases) the relation of God’s nature to human beings. We will reflect closely on what are often said to be God’s attributes, examining competing accounts and puzzles concerning some of them (omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence) and deeper disputes concerning others (eternality vs. sempiternality, God’s purported simplicity, necessary vs. non-necessary existence). We will also consider the possibility and nature of finite causation and of human freedom in relation to God’s omnipotence and omniscience. Finally, we will scratch the surface of issues concerning the Trinity and the Incarnation. As a basis for our reflection, we will study critiques and defenses of various positions offered by contemporary philosophers working in English.

The course will be centered on issues, rather than on figures (as is typical in analytic philosophy), but we will be reading work by several leading contemporary philosophers discussing these questions. It will emphasize doing philosophy, not just learning about different views. The main requirement for the course is a willingness to work hard at understanding and assessing competing views and the arguments for and against them.

Required Readings:
Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosenkrantz, The Divine Attributes (Blackwell, 2002)
Gerard J. Hughes, The Nature of God (Routledge, 1995).