Academic year
Dan López de Sa
Department of Philosophy
Universitat de Barcelona
Master courses
Module 7. Issues in Contemporary Theoretical and Practical Philosophy
2019-09-30 - 2019-12-16
Mondays, 14:30-17:30
411 - Facultat de Filosofia UB


What are genders? What is it to be a woman, a man, genderqueer, or neither? How does it relate to sex (if at all)? What is sex as an activity? What makes a sexual preference into a sexual orientation?

In recent years, there has been increasing attention among analytic metaphysicians to this kind of questions—of indisputable social significance over and above intrinsic theoretical interest.

In this research seminar, we will survey some of the philosophical literature on the topic. By carefully discussing it, we also aim to deepen our understanding and mastery of key general metaphysical notions—realism(s), existence, grounding, (natural and social) properties and kinds, essentialism—as well as those distinctively involved in social reality—social construction, social groups, collective intentionality and collective action, forms of response-dependence, interactive kinds and looping effects. We will also be paying special attention to methodological aspects of the role of normative considerations in metaphysics concerning which concepts should be used (conceptual ethics and conceptual engineering) as well to specifically how words that matter should be used—including precisely ‘woman’, ‘sex’, and ‘orientation’.

Sessions will occur within September 23 and December 16. A detailed syllabus including readings will be distributed in due time.




There will be ten regular three-hour sessions. The format will be that of a research seminar, structured around presentations by students and general discussion, led by the instructor.


Evaluation will be based on the quality of the presentation (10%), of the contribution to discussions (20%), and of an abstract (10%) and a short research paper (60%), on a topic related to the seminar, to be agreed with the instructor in due time.


The purpose is to open the discussion by submitting thoughts, questions, and objections. The total slot for this is up to 10 minutes per person as maximum (less may well be completely appropriate), although people are free to coordinate in the form of joint presentations. If you would like to use a handout and/or beamer, please coordinate with the instructor the week prior to your session. NB: The purpose is not to summarize the paper, that everybody will have read, but to open the discussion, by providing original contributions in the forms envisaged.


Everybody is expected to have read the papers in detail in advance, and to come to each of the ten sessions with thoughts, questions, and objections. We will do our best efforts to comply with the guidelines for respectful, constructive, and inclusive philosophical discussion: 

Research Paper

Short research papers (absolute maximum length, including footnotes and references: 2500 words) are expected on topics to be agreed with the instructor. Proposals should take the form of title and short abstract (<100 words), stating the main claim/conjecture/working hypothesis, as well as a skeleton of the structure of the argument or line of thought. (Tentatively, as the purpose is to coordinate regarding topic and kind of paper.) All materials are to be sent as attached .pdf files to

(Guidelines on evaluation and marking, including a note on originality and plagiarism, available at


Intended Learning Outcomes:

CB6 – Students should be able to critically understand central texts in metaphysics in a way that puts them in a position to develop and apply original ideas.

CB9 - Students should be able to communicate their knowledge and their arguments to specialized audiences in a clear and articulate way.

CG1 – Students should be able to formulate and critically assess arguments in metaphysics.

CG2. Students should be able to design, create, develop and undertake new and innovative projects in their area of expertise.

CG3. Students should be able to engage both in general and specific discussions in metaphysics. They should be able to conduct a philosophical discussion (orally and in written form), by putting forward, for example, general arguments or specific examples, in support of one’s position.

CG4. Students should be able to work both independently and in a team, in an international environment.

CG5. Students should be able to identify methodological errors, rhetorical, conventional and uncritical assumptions, vagueness and superficiality.

CE1. Students should be able to critically engage with the concepts and methods of analytic metaphysics.  

CE2. Students should be able to identify the core arguments and theories of metaphysics concerning theoretical issues.

CE3. Students should be able to identify the core arguments and theories of metaphysics concerning practical issues.

CE4. Students should be able to assess the writings of leading contemporary philosophers in metaphysics.

CE5. Students should be able to identify and critically engage with the current state of debates in metaphysics.

CE7. Students should be able to critically use specialized terminology in metaphysics.