Monday, 12:30-3:15 in 220 Malloy

Course description

Debates in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language (as well as other areas of philosophy) often turn on questions about the existence and nature of properties, relations, and propositions. This seminar will engage contemporary work on, among others, the following questions: Should we believe in the existence of properties, relations, and propositions? If so, why? What are properties and relations, and how do they connect to the entities that have them? What are propositions, and how are they related to properties and relations? Do propositions represent in a way that properties and relations don't? What are the conditions under which properties, propositions, and relations are identical or distinct?

Office hours

Nolan: TBA.

Speaks: here.

Honor code

"As a member of the Notre Dame community, I acknowledge that it is my responsibility to learn and abide by principles of intellectual honesty and academic integrity, and therefore I will not participate in or tolerate academic dishonesty."

It is important that work you submit for assessment be your own work. Please do not plagiarise, and please include references when you have taken ideas or text from other sources, including when there is not direct quotation but you have taken information from a source.

Do not use Chat-GPT or any other AI system when composing your work.


Week 1: Introduction and Outline (Monday August 28 // Nolan and Speaks)

There are no required readings for this week, but the following pieces would be useful background reading for the course:

Week 2: The One Over Many (Monday September 4 // Nolan)

Week 3: Commitment to Properties and Relations (Monday September 11 // Nolan)

Week 4: Commitment to Propositions (Monday September 18 // Speaks)

Suggested extra reading: Handouts: Cartwright on propositions | A neat and tidy picture | Some complications

Week 5: Nominalism (Monday September 25 // Nolan)

Suggested extra reading: Handout

Week 6: New Work for a Theory of Universals (Monday October 2 // Nolan)

Week 7: Possible worlds (Monday October 9 // Nolan)

Suggested extra reading:

Fall break, October 14-22

Week 8: Theories of propositions I: Propositions as sets of worlds (Monday October 23 // Speaks)

Handouts: Propositions as sets of possible worlds | Impossible worlds semantics

Suggested extra reading:

Week 9: Russellian vs. Fregean individuation conditions for propositions (Monday October 30 // Speaks)

Handout: Frege's puzzles and some responses

Suggested extra reading:

Week 10: Universals and Tropes (Monday November 6 // Nolan)


Suggested Extra Readings:

Week 11: Theories of propositions II: Act theories, fact theories, property theories, and primitivism (Monday November 13 // Speaks)

Suggested extra reading: Handout: Propositions and representation

Week 12: Theories of propositions III: Higher-orderism (Monday November 20 // Speaks)

Suggested extra readings: Handout: Higher-orderism

Paragraph descriptions of the final paper are due, Fri Nov 24.

Week 13: Paradoxes of Propositions and Properties (Monday November 27 // Nolan and Speaks)

Suggested extra reading: Handouts: Russell-Myhill | Grim and Kaplan

Week 14: Concluding meeting (Monday December 4 // Nolan and Speaks)

No new readings.


There will be two components to the assessment for this course: Written assignments can be submitted at any time on the day they are due, including 11:59pm. Please submit assignments to us by email, and please include your surname in the document name of the files you submit.