David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Analysis 68 (298):128–133 (2008)
The claim that composition is identity is an intuition in search of a formulation. The farmer’s field is made of six plots, and in some sense is nothing more than those six plots. According to the friend of composition as identity, the six plots are identical with the farmer’s field.1 Some philosophers, such as Peter van Inwagen (1994), have claimed that the view that composition is identity is incoherent. Van Inwagen cites the apparent ungrammaticality of sentences like ‘the six plots are the farmer’s field’ as evidence for his view. Perhaps van Inwagen is right, but I needn’t settle this question here. I will argue against the view that composition is identity, whatever that view amounts to, in the following way. First, I will elucidate a principle called ‘the Plural Duplication Principle’ [PDP]. Any acceptable way of making sense of the slogan that composition is identity— i.e., any way that properly conforms to the intuitions that lead one to utter this slogan— must validate PDP. Second, I argue that PDP is false. So any acceptable way of making sense of the slogan that composition is identity is false. The slogan that composition is identity will be refuted prior to being properly formulated. Following David Lewis (1986: 59-63), let us say that x and y are duplicates just in case there is a 1-1 correspondence between their parts that preserves perfectly natural properties and relations. Suppose that A is identical with B. Then any duplicate of A must also be a duplicate of B. This follows via Leibniz’s Law: if some duplicate of A were not..
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