Material Objects, Constitution, and Mysterianism

Southern Journal of Philosophy 46 (1):1-26 (2008)
It is sometimes claimed that ordinary objects, such as mountains and chairs, are not material in their own right, but only in virtue of the fact that they are constituted by matter. As Fine puts it, they are “onlyderivatively material” (2003, 211). In this paper I argue that invoking “constitution” to account for the materiality of things that are not material in their own right explains nothing and renders the admission that these objects are indeed material completely mysterious. Although there may be metaphysical contexts in which mysterianism can be accepted with equanimity, I further argue, the question of the materiality of quotidian objects is not one of them.
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DOI 10.1111/j.2041-6962.2008.tb00067.x
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