Parts and Partitions

Theoria 66 (1):41-82 (2008)
Abstract
Our object is to study the interaction between mereology and David Lewis’ theory of subject-matters, elaborating his observation that not every subject matter is of the form: how things stand with such-and-such a part of the world. After an informal introduction to this point in Section 1, we turn to a formal treatment of the partial orderings arising in the two areas – the part-whole relation, on the one hand, and the relation of refinement amongst partitions of the set of worlds, on the other. (We follow Lewis – approximately – in identifying subject-matters with such partitions.) We emphasize a certain duality, formulated in (2.6) and (2.7) in Section 2, between the corresponding lattice operations – mereological joins with partition-lattice meets, mereological meets with partition-lattice joins. Section 3 presents some issues that are raised by consideration of the informally familiar idea of logical subtraction. These include, in particular, a problem about the need for a notion of independence different from the usual logical notion(s) going by that name. The apparatus of Section 2 promises to throw some light on this problem, as we indicate in Section 4. Section 5 ties up some loose ends and suggests an area in which further work would be desirable.
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