About this topic
Summary Material objects (basketballs, planets, buildings, tables, chairs, electrons, organisms, etc.) have proved philosophically fascinating. Though they might, at first, appear to be those kinds of objects that pose the least amount of philosophical trouble, puzzles and questions concerning their nature have proved just as interesting, and intractable, as puzzles and questions over abstract and non-existent objects. In this section, papers dealing with questions having to do with their existence, persistence, mereology, location, constitution, origin, modal features, mind-independence, grounding status, causal role, place in a quantum world and perceptibility can be found.
Key works For some key works on the existence, mereology, and constitution of material objects, see van Inwagen 1990, Merricks 2001, Rea 1997 and Koslicki 2008. For some key works on the persistence, location, and modal features of material objects, see Heller 1990, Sider 2001 and Hawley 2001.
Introductions For a nice introduction on the philosophical issues surrounding ordinary material objects, see Korman 2011.
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  1. Good Advice & Rational Action (2000). Universalism, Four Dimensionalism, and Vagueness, HUD. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (3).
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  2. U. W. E. Aleixner (2009). The Non-Physicalness of Material Objects. In Ludger Honnefelder, Benedikt Schick & Edmund Runggaldier (eds.), Unity and Time in Metaphysics. Walter de Gruyter Inc. 46.
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  3. Robert Allen (2000). Identity and Becoming. Southern Journal of Philosophy 38 (4):527-548.
    A material object is constituted by a sum of parts all of which are essential to the sum but some of which seem inessential to the object itself. Such object/sum of parts pairs include my body/its torso and appendages and my desk/its top, drawers, and legs. In these instances, we are dealing with objects and their components. But, fundamentally, we may also speak, as Locke does, of an object and its constitutive matter—a “mass of particles”—or even of that aggregate and (...)
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  4. By Amie L. Thomasson (2006). Metaphysical Arguments Against Ordinary Objects. Philosophical Quarterly 56 (224):340–359.
    Several prominent attacks on the objects of 'folk ontology' argue that these would be omitted from a scientific ontology, or would be 'rivals' of scientific objects for their claims to be efficacious, occupy space, be composed of parts, or possess a range of other properties. I examine causal redundancy and overdetermination arguments, 'nothing over and above' appeals, and arguments based on problems with collocation and with property additivity. I argue that these share a common problem: applying conjunctive principles to cases (...)
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  5. Gisle Andersen (2010). A Contrastive Approach to Vague Nouns. In Gunther Kaltenböck, Wiltrud Mihatsch & Stefan Schneider (eds.), New Approaches to Hedging. Emerald. 35--48.
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  6. Istvan Aranyosi (2007). Shadows of Constitution. The Monist 90 (3):415-431.
    The old puzzle of material constitution has benefited from a lot of thorough discussion from the part of metaphysicians in the last thirty-odd years. The available solution options and their problems are by now familiar. They involve particular views on mainstream entities and relations of metaphysical inquiry, like objects, properties, events, causation, identity, supervenience, and so on. However, one might want to hope, together with some contemporary ontologists, most notably Roberto Casati and Achille Varzi (1994), that dealing with more peripheral (...)
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  7. Marta Campdelacreu Arqués (2010). Stage Universalism, Voints and Sorts. Disputatio 3 (28):1 - 15.
    In the current debate on how ordinary objects persist through time, more than one philosopher has endorsed the following two theses: stage theory and diachronic universalism. In this paper, I would like to offer a so-lution to the problem (related to lingering properties) that Balashov poses to the joint acceptance of these theses. I will also offer a number of rea-sons why, even if it is not necessary to undermine Balashov�s counterex-amples, stage theorists can, without making their theory less appealing, (...)
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  8. Axel Arturo Barceló Aspeitia, On Composition.
    I can make no sense of a true, literal application of the notion of proper (nontemporal) components or parts to things that occupy no space. Others apparently can, and some construct elaborate theories of propositional structure… Perhaps I am blind to a possibility that other, cognitively better endowed philosophers see. From my unseeing perspective, though, it is more likely that the appearance of sight deceives.
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  9. John R. Baker, R. M. Ranson & J. Tynen (1939). The Chemical Composition of the Volpar Contraceptive Products, Part I: Phenyl Mercuric Acetate as a Spermicide. The Eugenics Review 30 (4):261.
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  10. John R. Baker, R. M. Ranson & J. Tynen (1939). The Chemical Composition of the Volpar Contraceptive Products, Part 2. The Eugenics Review 31 (1):23.
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  11. Viorica Barbu Iuraşcu (2009). Phrase Rhythm and Composition. Analysis and Metaphysics 8:155-159.
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  12. Elizabeth Barnes (2007). Vagueness and Arbitrariness: Merricks on Composition. Mind 116 (461):105-113.
    In this paper I respond to Trenton Merricks's (2005) paper ‘Composition and Vagueness’. I argue that Merricks's paper faces the following difficulty: he claims to provide independent motivation for denying one of the premisses of the Lewis-Sider vagueness argument for unrestricted composition, but the alleged motivation he provides begs the question.
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  13. Pierfrancesco Basile (2008). Is Mental Composition Impossible in Principle? Chromatikon: Annales de la Philosophie En Procès / Yearbook of Philosophy in Process 4:21-25.
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  14. Helen Beebee & Michael Rush (2003). Non-Paradoxical Multi-Location. Analysis 63 (4):311–317.
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  15. Karen Bennett (2011). Koslicki on Formal Proper Parts. Analysis 71 (2):286-290.
    Cornell University Ithaca, NY 14850 kb383@cornell.eduWhat are motorcycles made of? Presumably the answer is something like ‘wheels, pistons, fuel lines …’ or perhaps ‘metal, leather, plastic …’. Whatever precisely the parts of a motorcycle are, surely they are all material. Kathrin Koslicki disagrees. She has recently argued that ordinary material objects like motorcycles not only have material proper parts, but also have formal proper parts . On her view, an accurate list of the proper parts of a motorcycle must include (...)
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  16. Victor Bérard (1890). Statue Archaïque de Tégée. Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 14 (1):382-384.
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  17. Gustav Bergmann (1977). Some Comments on Professor Oaklander's "Particulars, Positional Qualities, and Individuation". Philosophy of Science 44 (3):491-493.
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  18. Stephen L. Black (2006). Use of ID Material Unsupported. BioScience 56 (4):285-285.
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  19. Lynn Bloom (2000). Advancing Composition. In Linda K. Shamoon, Rebecca Moore Howard, Sandra Jamieson & Robert Schwegler (eds.), Coming of Age: The Advanced Writing Curriculum. Boynton/Cook. 3--18.
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  20. Nicolas-Isidore Boussoulas (1961). Étude sur l'Esthétique de la composition platonicienne des mixtes (suite et fin). Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 66 (1/2):142 - 158.
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  21. R. B. Braithwaite (1937). Propositions About Material Objects. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 38:269 - 290.
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  22. Ivan W. Brooks (1936). On Abstract Art. Philosophy 11 (42):195 - 202.
    Since the death of Cézanne in 1906, there has been throughout the world of European art a general reawakening of a sense of the necessity for constructive qualities in painting. Whereas our fathers were content to speak of the “composition” of a picture, in our own day it is more usual to speak of its construction. Composition, after all, is a comparatively loose and elastic term implying a generally harmonious arrangement of the massed effect of light and dark, a juxtaposition (...)
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  23. Douglas Browning (1988). Sameness Through Change and the Coincidence of Properties. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 49 (1):103-121.
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  24. James L. Burke (1942). The British Constitution. Thought 17 (1):191-191.
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  25. Robert Butterworth & J. S. (1972). The Composition of Mark 1–12. Heythrop Journal 13 (1):5–26.
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  26. Christopher Byrne (1995). Prime Matter and Actuality. Journal of the History of Philosophy 33 (2):197-224.
    In the context of Aristotle's metaphysics and natural philosophy, 'prime matter' refers to that material cause which is both the proximate material cause of the four sublunary elements and the ultimate material cause of all perishable substances. On the traditional view, prime matter is pure potentiality, without any determinate nature of its own. Against this view, I argue that prime matter must be physical, extended, and movable matter if it is to fulfil its role as the substratum persisting through the (...)
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  27. C. Callender (2001). Humean Supervenience and Rotating Homogeneous Matter. Mind 110 (437):25-44.
    is the thesis that everything supervenes upon the spatiotemporal distribution of local intrinsic qualities. A recent threat to HS, originating in thought experiments by Armstrong and Kripke, claims that the mere possibility of rotating homogeneous discs proves HS false. I argue that the rotating disc argument (RDA) fails. If I am right, Humeans needn't abandon or alter HS to make sense of rotating homogeneous discs. Homogeneous discs, as necessarily understood by RDA, are not the sorts of things in which we (...)
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  28. Ross Cameron (2007). Subtractability and Concreteness. Philosophical Quarterly 57 (227):273 - 279.
    I consider David Efird and Tom Stoneham's recent version of the subtraction argument for metaphysical nihilism, the view that there could have been no concrete objects at all. I argue that the two premises of their argument are only jointly acceptable if the quantifiers in one range over a different set of objects from those which the quantifiers in the other range over, in which case the argument is invalid. So either the argument is invalid or we should not accept (...)
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  29. Ross P. Cameron (2006). Much Ado About Nothing: A Study of Metaphysical Nihilism. Erkenntnis 64 (2):193-222.
    This paper is an investigation of metaphysical nihilism: the view that there could have been no contingent or concrete objects. I begin by showing the connections of the nihilistic theses to other philosophical doctrines. I then go on to look at the arguments for and against metaphysical nihilism in the literature and find both to be flawed. In doing so I will look at the nature of abstract objects, the nature of spacetime and mereological simples, the existence of the empty (...)
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  30. Peter Carruthers (1985). Peter Unger, "Philosophical Relativity". [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 35 (39):207.
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  31. Paul Carus (1913). The Monism of “The Monist”. The Monist 23 (3):435-439.
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  32. Paul Carus (1913). The Monism of "the Monist," Compared with Professor Haeckel's Monism. The Monist 23 (3):435 - 439.
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  33. Hiram Caton (1969). Speech and Writing as Artifacts. Philosophy and Rhetoric 2 (1):19 - 36.
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  34. David R. Cerbone (1999). Composition and Constitution. Philosophical Topics 27 (2):309-329.
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  35. Sara Rachel Chant (2006). The Special Composition Question in Action. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (4):422–441.
    Just as we may ask whether, and under what conditions, a collection of objects composes a single object, we may ask whether, and under what conditions, a collection of actions composes a single action. In the material objects literature, this question is known as the "special composition question," and I take it that there is a similar question to be asked of collections of actions. I will call that question the "special composition question in action," and argue that the correct (...)
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  36. V. C. Chappell (1970). Stuff and Things. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 71:61 - 76.
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  37. Shaoming Chen (2008). Endurance and Non-Endurance: From the Perspective of Virtue Ethics. [REVIEW] Frontiers of Philosophy in China 3 (3):335-351.
    By analysing the two relevant psychological phenomena of “endurance” and “non-endurance,” this essay aims to reveal the ethical implications of a Confucian approach, namely regarding non-endurance as an impulse of primary virtue. Based on this case study, the author then explores the significance of moral cultivation or psychological training in establishing moral personality and the complexities of such a process. Meanwhile, “love” in Confucian ethics means sympathy for the inferior rather than affection for the revered. Hopefully, this study may deepen (...)
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  38. Roderick Chisholm (1979). Objects and Persons: Revision and Replies. In Ernest Sosa (ed.), Essays on the Philosophy of Roderick M. Chisholm. Rodopi. 317-388.
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  39. Roderick M. Chisholm (1979). Objects and Persons. Grazer Philosophische Studien 7:317-388.
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  40. A. V. Churchill (1962). Supplementary Report: Effect of Mode of Response on Judgment of Familiar Size. Journal of Experimental Psychology 64 (2):198.
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  41. Geraldine Coggins (2010). Could There Have Been Nothing?: Against Metaphysical Nihilism. Palgrave Macmillan.
    Machine generated contents note: Introduction -- Possible Worlds -- The Subtraction Argument -- The Metaphysics of Subtraction -- World and Object -- Metaphysical Nihilism -- Anti-nihilism -- Conclusion -- Index.
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  42. Dagmar Stuehrk Corrigan & Chidsey Dickson (2002). Ezines and Freshman Composition. Kairos 7.
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  43. Andrew Cortens (2002). Dividing the World Into Objects. In William P. Alston (ed.), Realism and Antirealism. Cornell University Press. 41-56.
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  44. Antoine Côté (1997). The Five Ways and the Argument From Composition: A Reply to John Lamont. The Thomist 61 (1):123-131.
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  45. Francis Croissant (1978). La Statue Assise de la Voie Sacrée À Delphes. Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 102 (2):587-590.
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  46. Pascal Crozet (2004). Thabit Ibn Qurra Et la Composition Des Rapports. Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 14 (2):175-211.
  47. Pascal Crozet & Ahmad Y. al-Hassan (2004). Thabit Ibn Qurra and the Composition of Ratios. Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 14:171-174.
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  48. Peter C. Dalton (1977). Human Persistence Through Time. New Scholasticism 51 (2):162-181.
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  49. Francis W. Dauer (1985). Peter Unger, Philosophical Relativity Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 5 (4):182-184.
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  50. Georges Daux (1957). Remarques Sur la Composition du Conseil Amphictionique. Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 81 (1):95-120.
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