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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 2014
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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 Grounding. 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. Lynne Rudder Baker (2003). Review of Objects and Persons, by Trenton Merricks. [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (4):597 – 598.
    Book Information Objects and Persons. Objects and Persons Trenton Merricks . Oxford: Clarendon Press , 2001 , pp. xii + 203 , £30 ( cloth ), £14.99 ( paper ) . By Trenton Merricks. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Pp. xii + 203. £30 (cloth:), £14.99 (paper:).
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  4. 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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  5. Donald L. M. Baxter (2001). Loose Identity and Becoming Something Else. Noûs 35 (4):592–601.
    Armstrong has loose identity be an equivalence relation, yet in cases of something becoming something else, loose identity is not transitive. My alternate account has an attribution of loose identity be really two: a true attribution of an underlying relation (perhaps not transitive) and a false attribution--a Humean feigning-of strict identity. The feigning may become less appropriate as the underlying relation grows more distant. What makes it appropriate initially is that the underlying relation supports a predictable change in some collective. (...)
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  6. Donald L. M. Baxter (1988). Many-One Identity. Philosophical Papers 17 (3):193-216.
    Two things become one thing, something having parts, and something becoming something else, are cases of many things being identical with one thing. This apparent contradiction introduces others concerning transitivity of identity, discernibility of identicals, existence, and vague existence. I resolve the contradictions with a theory that identity, number, and existence are relative to standards for counting. What are many on some standard are one and the same on another. The theory gives an account of the discernibility of identicals using (...)
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  7. Donald L. M. Baxter (1988). Identity in the Loose and Popular Sense. Mind 97 (388):575-582.
    This essay interprets Butler’s distinction between identity in the loose and popular sense and in the strict and philosophical sense. Suppose there are different standards for counting the same things. Then what are two distinct things counting strictly may be one and the same thing counting loosely. Within a given standard identity is one-one. But across standards it is many-one. An alternative interpretation using the parts-whole relation fails, because that relation should be understood as many-one identity. Another alternative making identity (...)
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  8. Jiri Benovsky (forthcoming). 'Nothing Over and Above' or 'Nothing'? On Eliminativism, Reductionism, and Composition. Polish Journal of Philosophy.
    In this article, I am interested in an issue concerning eliminativism about ordinary objects that can be put as the claim that the eliminativist is guilty of postulating the existence of something (atoms arranged tablewise) but not of something that is identical to it (the table). But, as we will see, this turns out to be a problem for everybody except the eliminativist. Indeed, this issue highlights a more general problem about the relationship between an entity and the parts the (...)
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  9. 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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  10. Einar Duenger Bohn (forthcoming). Composition as Identity and Plural Cantor's Theorem. Logic and Logical Philosophy.
    I argue that Composition as Identity blocks the plural version of Cantor's Theorem, and that therefore the plural version of Cantor's Theorem can no longer be uncritically appealed to. As an example, I show how this result blocks a recent argument by Hawthorne and Uzquiano.
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  11. Einar Duenger Bohn (forthcoming). Unrestricted Composition as Identity. In Donald Baxter & Aaron Cotnoir (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press
    In this paper I argue that composition as identity entails unrestricted composition. I also briefly consider a new take on the special composition question.
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  12. Einar Duenger Bohn (2014). From Hume's Dictum Via Submergence to Composition as Identity or Mereological Nihilism. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (1):336-355.
    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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  13. 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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  14. Einar Duenger Bohn (2011). Commentary on "Parts of Classes". Humana.Mente Journal of Philosophical Studies 19.
    In this short piece I provide an interpretation of David Lewis' thesis of Composition as Identity.
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  15. 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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  16. Andrea Borghini & Giorgio Lando (forthcoming). Mereological Monism and Humean Supervenience. Synthese:1-21.
    According to Lewis, mereology is the general and exhaustive theory of ontological composition, and every contingent feature of the world supervenes upon some fundamental properties instantiated by minimal entities. A profound analogy can be drawn between these two basic contentions of his metaphysics, namely that both can be intended as a denial of emergentism. In this essay, we study the relationships between Humean supervenience and two philosophical spin-offs of mereological monism: the possibility of gunk and the thesis of composition as (...)
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  17. Phillip Bricker (forthcoming). Composition as a Kind of Identity. Inquiry:1-31.
    Composition as identity, as I understand it, is a theory of the composite structure of reality. The theory’s underlying logic is irreducibly plural; its fundamental primitive is a generalized identity relation that takes either plural or singular arguments. Strong versions of the theory that incorporate a generalized version of the indiscernibility of identicals are incompatible with the framework of plural logic, and should be rejected. Weak versions of the theory that are based on the idea that composition is (...)
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  18. Claudio Calosi & Matteo Morganti (forthcoming). Humean Supervenience, Composition as Identity and Quantum Wholes. Erkenntnis:1-22.
    In this paper, we focus on two related reductive theses in metaphysics—Humean Supervenience and Composition as Identity —and on their status in light of the indications coming from science, in particular quantum mechanics. While defenders of these reductive theses claim that they can be updated so as to resist the quantum evidence, we provide arguments against this contention. We claim that physics gives us reason for thinking that both Humean Supervenience and Composition as Identity are at least contingently false, as (...)
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  19. Ross P. Cameron (2014). Parts Generate the Whole, but They Are Not Identical to It. In Aaron J. Cotnoir & Donald L. M. Baxter (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 (...) and the whole have had different parts. In this paper I attempt to offer an account of parthood that is intimate enough but not too intimate: the parts generate the whole, but they are not themselves the whole. (shrink)
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  20. 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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  21. 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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  22. Massimiliano Carrara & Giorgio Lando (2016). Composition, Indiscernibility, Coreferentiality. Erkenntnis 81 (1):119-142.
    According to strong composition as identity, the logical principles of one–one and plural identity can and should be extended to the relation between a whole and its parts. Otherwise, composition would not be legitimately regarded as an identity relation. In particular, several defenders of strong CAI have attempted to extend Leibniz’s Law to composition. However, much less attention has been paid to another, not less important feature of standard identity: a standard identity statement is true iff its terms are coreferential. (...)
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  23. A. J. Cotnoir (2013). Composition as General Identity. In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Volume 8. Oxford University Press 294-322.
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  24. Aaron J. Cotnoir (2014). Composition as Identity: Framing the Debate. In Aaron Cotnoir & Donald Baxter (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press
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  25. Aaron J. Cotnoir & Donald L. M. Baxter (eds.) (2014). Composition as Identity. OUP Oxford.
    Composition is the relation between a whole and its parts--the parts compose the whole; the whole is composed of the parts. But is a whole anything distinct from its collective parts? Could it be that a whole just is its parts? Twelve original articles argue for and against the controversial doctrine that composition is identity.
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  26. 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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  27. Antony Eagle (2015). Composition as Identity, Edited by A.J. Cotnoir and Donald L.M. Baxter. [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (1):190-193.
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  28. 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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  29. 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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  30. Cameron Gibbs (2015). Aaron J. Cotnoir and Donald L. M. Baxter, Eds., Composition as Identity. Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 35 (6):287-289.
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  31. Katherine Hawley (2014). Ontological Innocence. In A. J. Cotnoir & Donald L. M. Baxter (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press 70-89.
    In this chapter, I examine Lewis's ideas about ontological innocence, ontological commitment and double-counting, in his discussion of composition as identity in Parts of Classes. I attempt to understand these primarily as epistemic or methodological claims: how far can we get down this route without adopting radical metaphysical theses about composition as identity?
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  32. Katherine Hawley (2013). Cut the Pie Any Way You Like? Cotnoir on General Identity. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 8:323-30.
    This is a short response to Aaron Cotnoir's 'Composition as General Identity', in which I suggest some further applications of his ideas, and try to press the question of why we should think of his 'general identity relation' as a genuine identity relation.
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  33. Paul Hovda, Two Defenses of Composition as Identity.
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  34. Christopher Hughes (1986). Is a Thing Just the Sum of its Parts? Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 86:213-234.
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  35. Peter Van Inwagen (1994). Composition as Identity. Philosophical Perspectives 8:207 - 220.
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  36. Shieva Kleinschmidt (2012). Many-One Identity and the Trinity. Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 4:84-96.
    Trinitarians claim there are three Divine persons each of which is God, and yet there is only one God. It seems they want three to equal one. It just so happens, some metaphysicians claim exactly that. They accept Composition as Identity: each fusion is identical to the plurality of its parts. I evaluate Composition as Identity's application to the doctrine of the Trinity, and argue that it fails to give the Trinitairan any options he or she didn't already have. Further, (...)
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  37. Kathrin Koslicki (2008). The Structure of Objects. Oxford University Press.
    The objects we encounter in ordinary life and scientific practice - cars, trees, people, houses, molecules, galaxies, and the like - have long been a fruitful source of perplexity for metaphysicians. The Structure of Objects gives an original analysis of those material objects to which we take ourselves to be committed in our ordinary, scientifically informed discourse. Koslicki focuses on material objects in particular, or, as metaphysicians like to call them "concrete particulars", i.e., objects which occupy a single region of (...)
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  38. 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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  39. Henry S. Leonard & Nelson Goodman (1940). The Calculus of Individuals and its Uses. Journal of Symbolic Logic 5 (2):45-55.
  40. 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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  41. David Lewis (1991). Parts of Classes. Blackwell.
  42. Roberto Loss (forthcoming). Parts Ground the Whole and Are Identical to It. Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-10.
    What is the relation between parts taken together and the whole that they compose? The recent literature appears to be dominated by two different answers to this question, which are normally thought of as being incompatible. According to the first, parts taken together are identical to the whole that they compose. According to the second, the whole is grounded in its parts. The aim of this paper is to make some theoretical room for the (...)
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  43. 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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  44. 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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  45. 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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  46. 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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  47. Kris McDaniel (2010). Parts and Wholes. Philosophy Compass 5 (5):412-425.
    Philosophical questions concerning parts and wholes have received a tremendous amount of the attention of contemporary analytic metaphysicians. In what follows, I discuss some of the central questions. The questions to be discussed are: how general is parthood? Are there different kinds of parthood or ways to be a part? Can two things be composed of the same parts? When does composition occur? Can material objects gain or lose parts? What is the logical form of the parthood relation enjoyed by (...)
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  48. 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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  49. 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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  50. Trenton Merricks (2001). Objects and Persons. Oxford University Press.
    Objects and Persons presents an original theory about what kinds of things exist. Trenton Merricks argues that there are no non-living inanimate macrophysical objects -- no statues or rocks or chairs or stars -- because they would have no causal role over and above the causal role of their microphysical parts. Humans do exist: we have non-redundant causal powers. Along the way, Merricks has interesting things to say about mental causation, free will, and various philosophical puzzles. Anyone working in (...)
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