NASSLLI 2012 June 18 - 22

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Possible Worlds: A Course in Metaphysics (for Computer Scientists and Linguists)

Room: UTC 4.104


This course draws on science fiction stories and films, as well as readings in contemporary metaphysics, to introduce and explore key issues concerning time, causation and possibility. These three fundamental structuring concepts of human thought have ‘faces’ in many disciplines of interest to NASSLLI participants (e.g., linguistics, logic and knowledge representation), but philosophical treatment of them arguably has a unique perspective to offer. Questions covered will include: “Is time travel possible?”, “What makes now now?”, “Is backwards causation possible and if not, does that make fatalism true?”, “What makes statements about possibility true or false, anyway?” Philosophers generally approach such questions by closely examining, analysing, and (last but not least) imaginatively exploring their underlying concepts in ‘thought-experiments’. This is the course's main methodology, though links will also be made via possible worlds semantics with some easy modal logic.


Basic logic. Interest in philosophical discussion. Imagination.






Catherine Legg

Email: clegg (AT) waikato (DOT) ac (DOT) nz


Catherine Legg holds a BA (hons) from University of Melbourne, an MA in Philosophy from Monash University and a PhD from ANU, where her thesis (“Modes of Being”) concerned Charles Peirce's philosophical categories. After a spell of hands-on ontological engineering in the early years of this century she returned to academia and now teaches at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. Her current research bridges philosophy of language, logic, ontology and AI, with a side interest in ‘cat metaphysics’.