Course syllabus




PHIL 740 – Metaphysics 1: The Metaphysics of Sex, Gender and Race 

Semester 2

Course Description:              

This is a course on the metaphysics of social reality. We will examine contemporary problems to do with sex, gender and race through the lenses of analytic metaphysics. We will also take a closer look at the theories of metaphysics on which some of these social issues hang. Some of the questions addressed in this course include, Are there essential male and female characteristics? These days it is possible to be transexual, but is it possible to be trans-racial? Can we be essentialists about any social kinds? Does anything in the world even have essential properties? If so, how can we tell?


Lecturer & course convener:

Dr. Raamy Majeed <>; room 206-419



There will be a writing and research intense 6,000 word essay, which will amount to 100% of the final grade, and is due on the 29th of October 2018.



Classes will be held at 114-G01 (Commerce A, Room G01) from 9-11am on Thursdays. Students are *required* to do the readings beforehand.



The Metaphysics of Race

  1. Introduction; Tuvel, 'In Defense of Transracialism’

  2. Botts, ‘Race and Method: The Tuvel Affair’

  3. Spencer, ‘Are Biological Races Real?’ & 'Are Social Races Real?’


Background Metaphysics: Natural Kinds and Essentialism

  1. Bach, ‘Social Categories are Natural Kinds’

  2. Bird, ‘Essences and Natural Kinds’ in A. Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics.

  3. Griffiths, ‘Squaring the Circle: Natural Kinds with Historical Essences’, in R.A Wilson (ed.), Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays


The Metaphysics of Sex and Gender

  1. Bach, 'Gender is a Natural Kind with a Historical Essence’

  2. Stoljar, ‘Essence, Identity, and the Concept of Woman’

  3. Fine, ‘Why Can’t a Women be More Like a Man?’ in C. Fine, Testosterone Rex.


Essay Prep
10. Revision Topic

11. Student Essays 1

12. Student Essays 2


Extra readings: TBA


Course summary:

Date Details