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Summary A slogan form of the thesis of composition as identity says that a whole is the same as its parts. Beyond that, there is no agreement on what the thesis of composition as identity is. A strong version of it says that a whole is identical with its parts. More precisely, it says either that a whole is identical with each one of its parts distributively, but not with all of them collectively; or that a whole is identical with each one of its parts distributively and collectively; or that a whole is identical with all its parts collectively, but not distributively. Composition as identity is thus committed to, in some form or other, a revision or generalization of the traditional laws of identity. A weaker version of composition as identity says that composition is very much like, but not the same as, the identity relation.
Key works The classic readings are Baxter 1988, Baxter 1988, Lewis 1991 and Sider 2007
Introductions The only introductions to this topic, are Wallace 2011, Wallace 2011 and Cotnoir forthcoming
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  1. D. M. Armstrong (1997). A World of States of Affairs. Cambridge University Press.
    Armstrong's analysis, which acknowledges the "logical atomism" of Russell and Wittgenstein, makes facts (or states of affairs, as the author calls them) the ...
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  2. Andrew M. Bailey (2011). The Incompatibility of Composition as Identity, Priority Pluralism, and Irreflexive Grounding1. Analytic Philosophy 52 (3):171-174.
    Some have it that wholes are, somehow, identical to their parts. This doctrine is as alluring as it is puzzling. But in this paper, I show that the doctrine is inconsistent with two widely accepted theses. Something has to go.
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  3. Donald L. M. Baxter (2013). Instantiation as Partial Identity: Replies to Critics. [REVIEW] Axiomathes 23 (2):291-299.
    One of the advantages of my account in the essay “Instantiation as Partial Identity” was capturing the contingency of instantiation—something David Armstrong gave up in his experiment with a similar view. What made the contingency possible for me was my own non-standard account of identity, complete with the apparatus of counts and aspects. The need remains to lift some obscurity from the account in order to display its virtues to greater advantage. To that end, I propose to respond to those (...)
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  4. Donald L. M. Baxter (1988). Many-One Identity. Philosophical Papers 17 (3):193-216.
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  5. Donald L. M. Baxter (1988). Identity in the Loose and Popular Sense. Mind 97 (388):575-582.
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  6. Donald L. M. Baxter & A. J. Cotnoir (eds.) (forthcoming). Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press.
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  7. Einar Bohn, Composition as Identity: A Study in Ontology and Philosophical Logic.
    In this work I first develop, motivate, and defend the view that mereological composition, the relation between an object and all its parts collectively, is a relation of identity. I argue that this view implies and hence can explain the logical necessity of classical mereology, the formal study of the part-whole relation. I then critically discuss four contemporary views of the same kind. Finally, I employ my thesis in a recent discussion of whether the world is fundamentally one in number.
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  8. Einar Duenger Bohn (forthcoming). Unrestricted Composition as Identity. In Donald Baxter & Aaron Cotnoir (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press.
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  9. Einar Duenger Bohn (2014). From Hume's Dictum Via Submergence to Composition as Identity or Mereological Nihilism. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (1).
    I show that a particular version of Hume's Dictum together with the falsity of Composition as Identity entails an incoherency, so either that version of Hume's Dictum is false or Composition as Identity is true. I conditionally defend the particular version of Hume's Dictum in play, and hence conditionally conclude that Composition as Identity is true. I end by suggesting an alternative way out for a persistent foe of Composition as Identity, namely mereological nihilism.
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  10. Einar Duenger Bohn (2012). Monism, Emergence, and Plural Logic. Erkenntnis 76 (2):211-223.
    In this paper I argue that we need to take irreducibly plural logic more seriously in metaphysical debates due to the fact that the verdict of many metaphysical debates hangs on it. I give two examples. The main example I focus on is the debate recently revived by Jonathan Schaffer over the fundamental cardinality of the world. I show how the three main arguments provided by Schaffer are unsound in virtue of an employment of plural logic. The second example I (...)
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  11. Einar Duenger Bohn (2011). Commentary on "Parts of Classes&Quot;. Humana.Mente Journal of Philosophical Studies (19).
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  12. Andrea Borghini (2005). Counterpart Theory Vindicated: A Reply to Merricks. Dialectica 59 (1):67–73.
    The paper shows – contra what has been argued by Trenton Merricks – that counterpart theory, when conjoined with composition as identity, does not entail mereological essentialism. What Merrick’s argument overlooks is that contingent identity is but one of the effects of grounding identity across possible worlds on similarity.
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  13. Ross P. Cameron (forthcoming). Parts Generate the Whole, but They Are Not Identical to It. In Donald Baxter & Aaron Cotnoir (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press.
    The connection between whole and part is intimate: not only can we share the same space, but I’m incapable of leaving my parts behind; settle the nonmereological facts and you thereby settle what is a part of what; wholes don’t seem to be an additional ontological commitment over their parts. Composition as identity promises to explain this intimacy. But it threatens to make the connection too intimate, for surely the parts could have made a different whole and the whole have (...)
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  14. Ross P. Cameron (2012). Composition as Identity Doesn't Settle the Special Composition Question1. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (3):531-554.
    Orthodoxy says that the thesis that composition is identity (CAI) entails universalism: the claim that any collection of entities has a sum. If this is true it counts in favour of CAI, since a thesis about the nature of composition that settles the otherwise intractable special composition question (SCQ) is desirable. But I argue that it is false: CAI is compatible with the many forms of restricted composition, and SCQ is no easier to answer given CAI than otherwise. Furthermore, in (...)
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  15. Ross P. Cameron (2007). The Contingency of Composition. Philosophical Studies 136 (1):99-121.
    There is widespread disagreement as to what the facts are concerning just when a collection of objects composes some further object; but there is widespread agreement that, whatever those facts are, they are necessary. I am unhappy to simply assume this, and in this paper I ask whether there is reason to think that the facts concerning composition hold necessarily. I consider various reasons to think so, but find fault with each of them. I examine the theory of composition as (...)
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  16. A. J. Cotnoir (forthcoming). Composition as Generalized Identity. In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.
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  17. Aaron J. Cotnoir (forthcoming). Composition as Identity: Framing the Debate. In Aaron Cotnoir & Donald Baxter (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press.
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  18. Einar Duenger Bohn (2011). The Logic of the Trinity. Sophia 50 (3):363-374.
    Roughly, the problem of the Trinity is the problem of how God can be one and yet be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which are three, not one. That one thing is identical with three distinct things seems to violate traditional laws of identity. I propose a solution to this problem according to which it is just an ordinary claim of one-many identity. For example, one pair of shoes is identical with two shoes; and my one body (...)
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  19. Nikk Effingham, Debunking a Mereological Myth: If Composition as Identity is True, Universalism Need Not Be.
    It is a common view that if composition as identity is true, then so is mereological universalism (the thesis that all objects have a mereological fusion). Various arguments have been advanced in favour of this: (i) there has been a recent argument by Merricks, (ii) some claim that Universalism is entailed by the ontological innocence of the identity relation, (or that ontological innocence undermines objections to universalism) and (iii) it is entailed by the law of selfidentity. After a preliminary introduction (...)
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  20. S. Gibbons & C. Legg (2013). Higher-Order One–Many Problems in Plato's Philebus and Recent Australian Metaphysics. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (1):119 - 138.
    We discuss the one?many problem as it appears in the Philebus and find that it is not restricted to the usually understood problem about the identity of universals across particulars that instantiate them (the Hylomorphic Dispersal Problem). In fact some of the most interesting aspects of the problem occur purely with respect to the relationship between Forms. We argue that contemporary metaphysicians may draw from the Philebus at least three different one?many relationships between universals themselves: instantiation, subkind and part, and (...)
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  21. Katherine Hawley (forthcoming). Ontologial Innocence. In Donald Baxter & Aaon Cotnoir (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press.
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  22. Katherine Hawley (2013). 8. Cut the Pie Any Way You Like? Cotnoir on General Identity. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 8:323.
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  23. Paul Hovda, Two Defenses of Composition as Identity.
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  24. Peter Van Inwagen (1994). Composition as Identity. Philosophical Perspectives 8:207 - 220.
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  25. Shieva Kleinschmidt (2012). Many-One Identity and the Trinity. Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 4:84-96.
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  26. Kathrin Koslicki (2008). The Structure of Objects. Oxford University Press.
    Standard mereology -- A contemporary structured-based mereology -- Ancient structure-based mereologies -- An alternative structure-based theory.
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  27. Henry Laycock (2011). Every Sum or Parts Which Are Water is Water. Humana.Mente 19 (1):41-55.
    Mereological entities often seem to violate ‘ordinary’ ideas of what a concrete object can be like, behaving more like sets than like Aristotelian substances. However, the mereological notions of ‘part’, ‘composition’, and ‘sum’ or ‘fusion’ appear to find concrete realisation in the actual semantics of mass nouns. Quine notes that ‘any sum of parts which are water is water’; and the wine from a single barrel can be distributed around the globe without affecting its identity. Is there here, as some (...)
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  28. Henry S. Leonard & Nelson Goodman (1940). The Calculus of Individuals and its Uses. Journal of Symbolic Logic 5 (2):45-55.
  29. David Lewis (1993). Many, but Almost One. In Keith Cambell, John Bacon & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.), Ontology, Causality, and Mind: Essays on the Philosophy of D. M. Armstrong. Cambridge University Press. 23-38.
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  30. David Lewis (1991). Parts of Classes. Blackwell.
  31. Nicholas Mantegani (2013). Instantiation is Not Partial Identity. Philosophical Studies 163 (3):697-715.
    In order to avoid the problems faced by standard realist analyses of the “relation” of instantiation, Baxter and, following him, Armstrong each analyze the instantiation of a universal by a particular in terms of their partial identity. I introduce two related conceptions of partial identity, one mereological and one non-mereological, both of which require at least one of the relata of the partial identity “relation” to be complex. I then introduce a second non-mereological conception of partial identity, which allows for (...)
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  32. Kris McDaniel (forthcoming). Compositional Pluralism and Composition as Identity. In Donald Baxter & Aaron Cotnoir (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press.
    Let’s start with compositional pluralism. Elsewhere I’ve defended compositional pluralism, which we can provisionally understand as the doctrine that there is more than one basic parthood relation. (You might wonder what I mean by “basic”. We’ll discuss this in a bit.) On the metaphysics I currently favor, there are regions of spacetime and material objects, each of which enjoy bear a distinct parthood relation to members of their own kind. Perhaps there are other kinds of objects that enjoy a kind (...)
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  33. Kris McDaniel (2013). Existence and Number. Analytic Philosophy 54 (2):209-228.
    The Frege-Russell view is that existence is a second-order property rather than a property of individuals. One of the most compelling arguments for this view is based on the premise that there is an especially close connection between existence and number. The most promising version of this argument is by C.J.F Williams (1981, 1992). In what follows, I argue that this argument fails. I then defend an account according to which both predications of number and existence attribute properties to individuals.
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  34. Kris McDaniel (2010). Composition as Identity Does Not Entail Universalism. Erkenntnis 73 (1):97-100.
    Composition as Identity is the view that, in some sense, a whole is numerically identical with its parts. Compositional universalism is the view that, whenever there are some things, there is a whole composed of those things. Despite the claims of many philosophers, these views are logically independent. Here, I will show that composition as identity does not entail compositional universalism.
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  35. Kris McDaniel (2008). Against Composition as Identity. Analysis 68 (298):128–133.
    The claim that composition is identity is an intuition in search of a formulation. The farmer’s field is made of six plots, and in some sense is nothing more than those six plots. According to the friend of composition as identity, the six plots are identical with the farmer’s field.1 Some philosophers, such as Peter van Inwagen (1994), have claimed that the view that composition is identity is incoherent. Van Inwagen cites the apparent ungrammaticality of sentences like ‘the six plots (...)
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  36. Trenton Merricks (2005). Composition and Vagueness. Mind 114 (455):615-637.
    says that there are some composite objects. And it says that some objects jointly compose nothing at all. The main threat to restricted composition is the in.uential and widely defended Vagueness Argument. We shall see that the Vagueness Argument fails. In seeing how this argument fails, we shall discover a new focus for the debate over composition's extent.
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  37. Trenton Merricks (1999). Composition as Identity, Mereological Essentialism, and Counterpart Theory. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (2):192 – 195.
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  38. Friederike Moltmann (1997). Parts and Wholes in Semantics (Preprint). Oxford University Press.
    This book present a unified semantic theory of expressions involving the notions of part and whole. It develops a theory of part structures which differs from traditional (extensional) mereological theories in that the notion of an integrated whole plays a central role and in that the part structure of an entity is allowed to vary across different situations, perspectives, and dimensions. The book presents a great range of empirical generalizations involving plurals, mass nouns, adnominal and adverbial modifiers such as 'whole', (...)
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  39. Mark Sharlow, Rethinking Wholes and Parts: Reflections on Reductionism, Holism, and Mereology.
    In this set of excerpts from an earlier book, I examine some philosophical issues surrounding the whole-part relationship. I present a series of thought experiments and other arguments designed to undermine the view that wholes are "nothing but" their parts.
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  40. Alan Sidelle (1992). Identity and the Identity-Like. Philosophical Topics 20 (1):269-292.
    Some relations - like supervenience and composition - can appear very much like identity. Sometimes, the relata differ only in modal, or modally-involved features. Yet, in some cases, we judge the pairs to be identical (water/H2O; Hesperus/Phosphorus), while in others, many judge one of the weaker relations to hold (c-fiber firing/pain; statues/lumps). Given the seemingly same actual properties these pairs have, what can justify us in sometimes believing identity is the relation, and sometimes something weaker? I argue that it can (...)
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  41. Theodore Sider, Composition as Identity and Emergent Properties: Reply to McDaniel.
    Composition as identity is the strange and strangely compelling doctrine that the whole is in some sense identical to its parts. Kris McDaniel (2008) argues that composition as identity rules out strongly emergent properties. I will argue that one version of the doctrine—namely, the most straightforward, albeit strangest, version—is resistant to the argument in an instructive way. What could it mean to say that one thing (such as a whole) is identical to many things (its parts)? That is indeed the (...)
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  42. Theodore Sider, Nothing Over and Above.
    The slogan “the whole is nothing over and above the parts” and related vague thoughts animate many theories of parthood and arguably are central to our ordinary conception. The slogan raises a number of issues.
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  43. Theodore Sider (forthcoming). Consequences of Collapse. In Donald Baxter & Aaron Cotnoir (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press.
    Composition as identity is the strange and strangely compelling doctrine that the whole is in some sense identical to its parts. According to the most interesting and fun version, the one inspired by Donald Baxter (1988a,b), this is meant in the most straightforward way: a single whole is genuinely identical to its many parts, in the very same sense of identity, familiar to philosophers, logicians, and mathematicians, in which I am identical to myself and 2 + 2 is identical to (...)
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  44. Theodore Sider (2007). Parthood. Philosophical Review 116 (1):51-91.
    There will be a few themes. One to get us going: expansion versus contraction. About an object, o, and the region, R, of space(time) in which o is exactly located,1 we may ask: i) must there exist expansions of o: objects in filled superregions2 of R? ii) must there exist contractions of o: objects in filled subregions of..
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  45. Joshua Spencer (2013). Strong Composition as Identity and Simplicity. Erkenntnis 78 (5):1177-1184.
    The general composition question asks “what are the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions any xs and any y must satisfy in order for it to be true that those xs compose that y?” Although this question has received little attention, there is an interesting and theoretically fruitful answer. Namely, strong composition as identity (SCAI): necessarily, for any xs and any y, those xs compose y iff those xs are identical to y. SCAI is theoretically fruitful because if it is true, (...)
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  46. Tuomas E. Tahko (2011). Commentary on Kathrin Koslicki’s The Structure of Objects. Humana.Mente 19:197-204.
    This is a critical commentary on Kathrin Koslicki's book The Structure of Objects (OUP, 2008).
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  47. Jason Turner (forthcoming). Donald Baxter's Composition as Identity. In Donald Baxter & Aaron Cotnoir (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press.
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  48. Jason Turner (2013). Existence and Many-One Identity. Philosophical Quarterly 63 (250):313-329.
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  49. Ian Underwood (2010). Cross-Count Identity, Distinctness, and the Theory of Internal and External Relations. Philosophical Studies 151 (2):265 - 283.
    Baxter (Australas J Philos 79: 449-464, 2001) proposes an ingenious solution to the problem of instantiation based on his theory of cross-count identity. His idea is that where a particular instantiates a universal it shares an aspect with that universal. Both the particular and the universal are numerically identical with the shared aspect in different counts. Although Baxter does not say exactly what a count is, it appears that he takes ways of counting as mysterious primitives against which different numerical (...)
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  50. Meg Wallace, On Composition as Identity.
    Some mereologists boast that their view of parts and wholes is ontologically innocent.[Lewis 1991: 72-87] They claim that a fusion is nothing over and above its parts; once you’ve committed to the parts, you get the fusion for free. In other words, fusions are not a further ontological commitment beyond the commitment to the parts. There are various proposals to explain how it is that fusions can come about so cheap. Perhaps the most straightforward of these explanations, and the one (...)
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