Spacetime and Mereology

Erkenntnis 74 (1):17-35 (2011)
Abstract
Unrestricted Composition (UC) is, roughly, the claim that given any objects at all, there is something which those objects compose. (UC) conflicts in an obvious way with common sense. It has as a consequence, for instance, that there is something which has as parts my nose and the moon. One of the more influential arguments for (UC) is Theodore Sider’s version of the Argument from Vagueness. (A version of the Argument from Vagueness was first presented by David Lewis (1986), pp. 212–213). That argument purports to show that some plausible claims concerning the nature of vagueness entail (UC). In this paper I will suggest a response to this argument. I will show that the proponent of Supersubstantivalism (SS)—the view that material objects are identical to regions of spacetime—can reject a premise of Sider’s argument without denying the plausible claims concerning vagueness. Doing so requires only rejecting a certain view concerning the relationship between the proper sub-region relation and the proper parthood relation. So, proponents of (SS) are in a better position than many of us to side with common sense regarding composition. In the first section of the paper, I will present Sider’s argument. In the second section, I will introduce (SS) and briefly discuss some reasons one might have to believe that it is true. In the third section, I will show how the proponent of (SS) can avoid commitment to (UC) and reject a premise of Sider’s argument. Last, I’ll briefly consider and respond to some objections
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