Van Inwagen and the Possibility of Gunk

Analysis 53 (4):285 - 289 (1993)
We often speak of an object being composed of various other objects. We say that the deck is composed of the cards, that a road is the sum total of its sections, that a house is composed of its walls, ceilings, floors, doors, etc. Suppose we have some material objects. Here is a philosophical question: what conditions must obtain for those objects to compose something? In his recent book Material Beings, Peter van Inwagen addresses this question, which he calls the ‘special composition question’; his answer is:1 (1) For any material objects X , the X s compose something iff the activity of the X s constitutes a life, or there is only one of the Xs. Additionally, he accepts a simpler thesis that follows from (1):2 (2) Every material object is either a mereological atom or a living thing, where a mereological atom is an object lacking proper parts. (2) may seem radical. If it is true then there are no tables, chairs, planets, protons, galaxies, gas stations, etc. But van Inwagen does not hold it lightly— there are serious difficulties with alternate views. Moreover, he claims that..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA
    Ross P. Cameron (2007). The Contingency of Composition. Philosophical Studies 136 (1):99-121.
    Theodore Sider (1996). All the World's a Stage. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (3):433 – 453.

    View all 10 citations

    Similar books and articles
    Ned Markosian (1998). Simples. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (2):213 – 228.
    Theodore Sider (2009). Ontological Realism. In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press.
    Daniel Giberman (2012). T-Gunk and Exact Occupation. American Philosophical Quarterly 49 (2):165-174.
    David Liggins (2008). Nihilism Without Self-Contradiction. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 62 (62):177-196.
    Jacek Brzozowski (2008). 9. On Locating Composite Objects. In Dean W. Zimmerman (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. 4--193.
    Peter Hawke (2011). Van Inwagen's Modal Skepticism. Philosophical Studies 153 (3):351-364.
    Ned Markosian (1998). Brutal Composition. Philosophical Studies 92 (3):211 - 249.
    Ned Markosian (1998). Brutal Composition. Philosophical Studies 92 (3):211-249.
    Ned Markosian (1998). Brutal Composition. Philosophical Studies 92 (3):211-249.

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    78 ( #13,999 of 1,089,047 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    14 ( #8,006 of 1,089,047 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.