Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Logic Program

Choosing A Coherent Pathway

The Department of Philosophy offers a unified program of study in epistemology, metaphysics, and logic led by leading researchers in these fields.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge and rationality, focusing on questions such as how knowledge of things outside our immediate experience is possible and how we should change our beliefs in response to evidence. Metaphysics is the study of being, of what it is that makes up our world. Metaphysicians are interested in the nature of the mind, possibility, causation, time, and properties, among other things. Finally, logic is the study of truth, focusing on inference or deduction, from a formal perspective.

Students studying Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Logic will enter into some of the central debates in contemporary philosophy. The program’s units of study centre on specific philosophical problems, with each course building on skills and knowledge acquired in the student’s previous courses.

Regular events – conferences, workshops, seminars, and reading groups – bring together researchers from Sydney and around the world to engage with original, cutting-edge work.

Studying Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Logic

Many first-year units of study have elements that focus on epistemology, metaphysics, or logic. Following first-year units, students have access to a wide range of topic-centred advanced units, as well as intensive Honours seminars.

List of units

For a list of units please see the Philosophy Department Unit Guide

Collaboration with Other Departments and Centres

The problems focused on by epistemology, metaphysics, and logic are not confined to philosophy. For instance, the nature of rationality is of profound interest to economists, and the nature of the mind is also studied by cognitive scientists. The program in Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Logic collaborates with a number of other departments and encourages to consider opportunities for interdisciplinary research.

  • Economics
  • Cognitive Science
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science

If you choose to enroll in units of study of these departments, please contact the Philosophy Undergraduate Coordinator, David Macarthur: , or the The Honours co-ordinator Luke Russell: to ensure that you receive the credit points.

Teaching and Research Staff in Metaphysics, Epistemology and Logic

Professor David Braddon-Mitchell
He works in Philosophy of Mind and metaphysics, and cross borders into philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, ethics and political philosophy from time to time.
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Professor Mark Colyvan
His primary interests include philosophy of logic, philosophy of mathematics, decision theory, environmental philosophy, and ecology and conservation biology.
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Professor Paul Griffiths
A philosopher of science with a focus on biology and psychology, Paul was educated at Cambridge and the Australian National University, receiving his PhD in 1989. He taught at Otago University in New Zealand and was later Director of the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science at the the University of Sydney, before taking up a Professorship in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He returned to Australia in 2004, first as an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow and from 2007 as University Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Sydney. At present he is also Academic Associate Director for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Charles Perkins Centre, a major new initiative at Sydney focused on interdisciplinary research into obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
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Dr Brian Hedden
Brian Hedden received his BA from Princeton University in 2006 and his PhD in Philosophy from MIT in 2012. His PhD dissertation was on epistemology and decision theory. From 2012 until 2014, he was a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Brian works primarily in epistemology and decision theory, with a particular interest in rationality and time. In addition to those main areas of research, he has strong interests in philosophy of language, ethics, and philosophy of science.
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Associate Professor David Macarthur
Associate Professor David Macarthur was awarded a PhD from Harvard University in 1999 under the supervision of Hilary Putnam, Stanley Cavell and Warren Goldfarb. He joined the Department of Philosophy in 2003 having been an Assistant Professor at Tufts University (1999-2000) and a Research Fellow at Macquarie University (2000-3). David’s research interests focus on Contemporary Pragmatism, Liberal Naturalism, Skepticism, Metaphysical Quietism, Philosophy of Language, Wittgenstein, and Philosophy of Art.
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Associate Professor Kristie Miller
In January of 2006 Dr Miller took up an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Queensland. In July of 2006 Kristie and the grant moved to the University of Sydney and in January of 2009 she was awarded a University of Sydney DVC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. Dr Miller is currently joint Director of the Centre for Time. Her research interests focus on metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of time.
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Dr Luke Russell
Luke Russell completed a BA (Hons) and a PhD in philosophy at the University of Sydney. His PhD, awarded in 2002, was on normativity in epistemology and ethics. He briefly taught at Macquarie University, before being appointed Lecturer at the University of Sydney, where he runs the HSC philosophy course Mind and Morality, and teaches Moral Psychology and Critical Thinking. Luke's main area of research is moral philosophy. He has focused on questions concerning evil, virtue and vice, and forgiveness. Luke has also written on aesthetic virtue, and the nature of moral and epistemic normativity.
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Associate Professor Nicholas Smith
Nick Smith has been at Sydney since 2005. From 2001-2004 he was a Lecturer in Philosophy at Victoria University of Wellington. Before that he was a graduate student at Princeton University, where he was awarded an MA in 1998 and a PhD in 2001. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Sydney, where he was awarded a BA(Hons) in 1995. His main research interests are in logics, philosophy of language, probability and decision theory, metaphysics, epistemology, history of analytic philosophy.
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Dr Caroline West
Dr Caroline West is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Sydney. She received her PhD in philosophy from The Australian National University in 1997. She lectured at Monash University and Macquarie University, before joining the Department in 2002. Her main areas of teaching and research interest are in metaphysics (especially personal identity); ethics; political philosophy; philosophy and psychology of happiness and well-being; applied ethics; and feminist philosophy.
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