An argument against the necessity of unrestricted composition

Analysis 69 (1):27-31 (2009)
Many metaphysicians accept the view that, necessarily, any collection of things composes some further thing. Necessarily, my arms, legs, head, and torso compose my body; necessarily, my arms, my heart, and the table compose something y; necessarily, my heart and the sun compose something z; and so on. 1 Though there have been a few recent attempts to argue against the necessity of this principle of unrestricted composition the consensus is that if it is true, it is necessarily true. 2In what follows I will join the few dissenters and argue that this principle of unrestricted composition is not necessarily true. If I am right, it follows that either some principle of restricted composition is necessarily true or the existence of composite objects is a contingent matter. I will end by indicating why the latter option seems the most plausible. 3I proceed by reductio. Assume the following: Unrestricted composition is necessarily true.That is, assume that necessarily, any collection of things composes something. Then, necessarily, the collection of everything composes something. That is, necessarily, there exists a universal object U having all things as parts, not itself being a proper part of anything. Hence, by our assumption, we get: There must be a universal object U.It is important to note that this is so whether the world is finite or infinite. Holding that in worlds of finite cardinality there is a universal object U while in worlds of infinite cardinality there is no universal object U amounts to accepting a restricted form of composition. 4Now consider the following scenario. Everything in this world is spatially extended and just one half of something else that is also spatially extended. That is, for any thing in this world, there is something else of which …
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DOI 10.1093/analys/ann004
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References found in this work BETA
Ross P. Cameron (2007). The Contingency of Composition. Philosophical Studies 136 (1):99-121.

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Daniel Z. Korman (2016). Ordinary Objects. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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