cod. 12927

Academic year 2022/23
2° year of course - Second semester
- Alessandro TORZA
Academic discipline
Logica e filosofia della scienza (M-FIL/02)
Istituzioni di filosofia
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

General objective:

This seminar aims to provide a critical overview of some of the most discussed issues in the 21st century literature on the metaphysics of science. At the end of the course, students will be able to navigate the main topics in the literature.

Specific objectives:
The main topics that students will be trained to assess and discuss include: the current state of the discussion on the methodology of metaphysics (analytic vs. naturalized), ontology (particularism vs. generalism), properties (substantivism vs. structuralism), metaphysical indeterminacy in quantum mechanics, laws of nature, and the metaphysics and representation of quantities.


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Course unit content

The metaphysics of science is a relatively young but very dynamic area wherein issues from both analytic metaphysics and the philosophy of science interact. Broadly speaking, work in the metaphysics of science may belong to two types of research. The first type involves the application of scientific theories, results, and methods to traditional metaphysical problems, in order to clarify, reformulate, solve, or eliminate them. The other type of research consists of the development of metaphysical theories and models that can help us understand, interpret, reformulate, or improve on some scientific theory. Research can also be done that belongs to both types. For a general introduction to the topic, see: Metaphysics of science, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

Full programme

Session 1: Introduction to the metaphysics of science (Esfeld, 2018).
Session 2: Methodological revisionism (Ladyman & Ross, 2007: ch. 1)
Session 3: Ontological revisionism I: generalism (Dasgupta, 2009).
Session 4: Ontological revisionism II: quantum statistics (Reedhead & Teller, 1992).
Session 5: Ontological revisionism III: identity of indiscernibles (Muller, 2015).
Session 6: Ontological revisionism IV: formalization (Glick, 2020)
Session 7: Quantum indeterminacy I: metaphysics (Skow, 2010).
Session 8: Quantum indeterminacy II: metametaphysics (Torza, 2021).
Session 9: Humeanism I (Loewer, 2007).
Session 10: Humeanism II (Bhogal, 2020).
Session 11: Anti-Humeanism I (Lange, 2013)
Session 12: Anti-Humeanism II (Shumener, 2019).
Sessions 13: Anti-Humeanism III (Shumener, forthcoming).
Sessions 14: Quantities I (Dasgupta, 2013)
Session 15: Quantities II (Baker, 2020)


Baker, David John (2020). Some Consequences of Physics for the Comparative Metaphysics of Quantity. In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Volume 12. Oxford University Press. pp. 75-112.

Bhogal, Harjit (2020). Nomothetic Explanation and Humeanism about Laws of Nature. In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, volume 12. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 164–202.

Dasgupta, Shamik (2009). Individuals: an essay in revisionary metaphysics. Philosophical Studies 145 (1):35-67.

Dasgupta, Shamik (2013). Absolutism vs Comparativism About Quantity. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 8:105-150.

Esfeld, Michael (2018). Metaphysics of science as naturalized metaphysics. In Anouk Barberousse, Denis Bonnay & Mikael Cozic (eds.), The philosophy of science. A companion. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press. pp. 142-170.

Glick, David (2020). Generalism and the Metaphysics of Ontic Structural Realism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):751-772.

Ladyman, James & Ross, Don (2007). Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized. Oxford University Press.

Lange, Marc (2013). Grounding, scientific explanation, and Humean laws. Philosophical Studies 164 (1):255-261.

Loewer, Barry (2007). Laws and Natural Properties. Philosophical Topics 35 (1/2):313-328.

Muller, F. A. (2015). The Rise of Relationals. Mind 124 (493):201-237.

Redhead, Michael & Teller, Paul (1992). Particle labels and the theory of indistinguishable particles in quantum mechanics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (2):201-218.

Shumener, Erica (2019). Laws of Nature, Explanation, and Semantic Circularity. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):787-815.

Shumener, Erica (forthcoming). The Power to Govern. Philosophical Perspectives.

Skow, Bradford (2010). Deep metaphysical indeterminacy. Philosophical Quarterly 60 (241):851-858.

Torza, Alessandro (2021). Quantum metametaphysics. Synthese 199(3–4): 9809–9833.

Teaching methods

The teaching method will abide by the standards of scientifically informed analytic philosophy, which involves the presentation of theories and models by means of clear and rigorous definitions, which are then discussed, challenged, and put to test against a range of data, theories, and arguments. The method is designe to optimize the understanding of a major ongoing shift, namely the naturalization of metaphysics.

Assessment methods and criteria


Other information

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