The contingency of composition

Philosophical Studies 136 (1):99-121 (2007)
Abstract
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 identity, but argue that the version of this doctrine that entails universalism is implausible. I consider the claim that the a priority of such facts leads to their necessity, but give a defence of substantial contingent a priori truths. I ask whether the contingency of such facts would lead to unwelcome possibilities, but argue that the worrying looking possibilities can be blocked if it is desired. Next, I argue against the thought that the Lewis-Sider argument against restricted composition might give us reason to accept the necessity of universalism. Lastly, I respond to two objections from the 2006 BSPC. I conclude in favour of the contingency of the facts concerning when some things compose some thing.
Keywords Composition  Modality
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    References found in this work BETA
    Donald L. M. Baxter (1988). Many-One Identity. Philosophical Papers 17 (3):193-216.

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    Citations of this work BETA
    Daniel Nolan (2011). The Extent of Metaphysical Necessity. Philosophical Perspectives 25 (1):313-339.

    View all 24 citations

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