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2nd Semester 2023/24: Introduction to Higher-order Metaphysics

Pablo Rivas-Robledo

Higher-order metaphysics uses various systems of higher-order logic to formulate metaphysical views and arguments in the hope of shedding new light on old problems of the discipline and formulating new ones.

This course offers students interested in the application of formal methods to philosophical questions the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the research programme of higher-order metaphysics. This course will explore the development of the programme as well as many of its important results and challenges.

After some formal preliminaries, the course will proceed with the debate on higher-order primitivism. We will then move on to higher-order theories of properties, necessitism and plural logic. The choice of topics is preliminary and suggestions are welcome.


The first two weeks consist of lectures, with three lectures per week. This is followed by supervision sessions where students can develop their own research questions. In week 3, students will give presentations and in week 4 they will have time to write a research paper.


Familiarity with first-order logic is essential.

Knowledge of second and higher order logic would be an advantage.

An open-minded attitude is particularly important and appreciated in advance.

Familiarity with metaphysical debates within analytic philosophy is important, but not crucial. The topics to be discussed in the seminar are listed above, but get in touch if you would like additional guidance.


The assessment for this project will consist of a presentation in week 3 and a paper (written individually or in groups) submitted at the end of week 4.

The paper may be an application of the formal apparatus to a philosophical problem or a comprehensive literature review of some of the key debates discussed in the sessions.


For the formal background we will use Bacon, A. (2023) A Philosophical Introduction to Higher-order Logics. Routledge.

Most of the philosophical discussion will be drawned from Fritz, P. & Jones, N. (eds.) (2024). Higher-order metaphysics. OUP.