The special composition question is the question, ‘When do some things compose something?’ The answers to this question in the literature have largely been at odds with common sense, either by allowing that any two things compose something, or by denying the existence of most ordinary composite objects. I propose a new ‘series-style’ answer to the special composition question that accords much more closely with common sense, and I defend this answer from van Inwagen's objections. Specifically, I will argue that (...) the proposed answer entails the transitivity of parthood, that it is non-circular, and that it casts some light on the ancient puzzle about the Ship of Theseus. (shrink)
The ancient puzzle of Dion and Theon has given rise to a surprising array of apparently implausible views. For example, in order to solve the puzzle, several philosophers have been led to deny the existence of their own feet, others have denied that objects can gain and lose parts, and large numbers of philosophers have embraced the thesis that distinct objects can occupy the same space, having all their material parts in common. In this paper, I argue for an alternative (...) approach: I claim that human beings have ordinary parts—hands, heads, feet, and so on—but no extraordinary parts, such as ‘foot-complements’, the existence of which is essential to the puzzle. I rebut three objections to this approach: an objection that it is unacceptably metaphysically arbitrary, an objection that the view is incompatible with versions of the puzzle involving decapitation, and an objection concerning masses of matter. If we can believe that there are such things as hands and feet without involving ourselves in paradox, and without accepting large numbers of co-located material objects that share all their material parts, then that is what we should do. My view is the only known alternative which allows this. (shrink)
According to the traditional bundle theory, particulars are bundles of compresent universals. I think we should reject the bundle theory for a variety of reasons. But I will argue for the thesis at the core of the bundle theory: that all the facts about particulars are grounded in facts about universals. I begin by showing how to meet the main objection to this thesis (which is also the main objection to the bundle theory): that it is inconsistent with the possibility (...) of distinct qualitative indiscernibles. Here, the key idea appeals to a non-standard theory of haecceities as non-well-founded properties of a certain sort. I will then defend this theory from a number of objections, and finally argue that we should accept it on the basis of considerations of parsimony about the fundamental. (shrink)
When some objects are the parts of another object, they compose that object and that object is composite. This article is intended as an introduction to the central questions about composition and a highly selective overview of various answers to those questions. In §1, we review some formal features of parthood that are important for understanding the nature of composition. In §2, we consider some answers to the question: which pluralities of objects together compose something? As we will see, the (...) dominant answers are all of them and none of them. In §§3-4, we examine one of the main arguments that has driven philosophers to these extreme answers: the argument from vagueness. In §5, we turn to the question of whether composition is unique: is it sometimes the case that some things compose more than one thing? Finally, in §6, we turn from the question of which composites exist to the question of which composites exist fundamentally. (shrink)
Rose and Schaffer (forthcoming) argue that teleological thinking has a substantial influence on folk intuitions about composition. They take this to show (i) that we should not rely on folk intuitions about composition and (ii) that we therefore should not reject theories of composition on the basis of intuitions about composition. We cast doubt on the teleological interpretation of folk judgments about composition; we show how their debunking argument can be resisted, even on the assumption that folk intuitions have a (...) teleological source; and we argue that, even if folk intuitions about composition carry no weight, theories of composition can still be rejected on the basis of the intuitions of metaphysicians. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that there are universals. I begin (Sect. 1) by proposing a sufficient condition for a thing’s being a universal. I then argue (Sect. 2) that some truths exist necessarily. Finally, I argue (Sects. 3 and 4) that these truths are structured entities having constituents that meet the proposed sufficient condition for being universals.
David Lewis (1986) criticizes moderate views of composition on the grounds that a restriction on composition must be vague, and vague composition leads, via a precisificational theory of vagueness, to an absurd vagueness of existence. I show how to resist this argument. Unlike the usual resistance, however, I do not jettison precisificational views of vagueness. Instead, I blur the connection between composition and existence that Lewis assumes. On the resulting view, in troublesome cases of vague composition, there is an object, (...) which definitely exists, about which it is vague whether the relevant borderline parts compose it. (shrink)
This book serves as a concise introduction to some main topics in modern formal logic for undergraduates who already have some familiarity with formal languages. There are chapters on sentential and quantificational logic, modal logic, elementary set theory, a brief introduction to the incompleteness theorem, and a modern development of traditional Aristotelian Logic.
Relative to an ordinary context, an utterance of the sentence ‘Everything is in the car’ communicates a proposition about a restricted domain. But how does this work? One possibility is that quantifier expressions like 'everything' are context sensitive and range over different domains in different contexts. Another possibility is that quantifier expressions are not context sensitive, but have a fixed, absolutely general meaning, and ordinary utterances communicate a restricted content via Gricean mechanisms. I argue that, contrary to received opinion, the (...) latter view has both a number of methodological and also intuitive advantages over the former. I then reply to three objections to the latter view: the binding argument (due to Stanley and Szabo), the availability-based attack (due to Recanati), and an argument based on Recanati’s scope principle. (shrink)
In this ambitious work, John Heil presents a fundamental ontology (chapters 1-8) consisting of finitely many substances and their properties (which he thinks of as particular, trope-like things), together with an account of causation, truthmaking, and a chapter on relations generally. He then applies this ontology (chapters 9-12) to a number of outstanding problems about reductionism, kinds, essences, emergence, consciousness, cognition, and much else. A final chapter reprises the main points about fundamental ontology from the first chapters.
The idea of transformative and troublesome ‘threshold concepts’ has been popular and influential in higher education. This article reports how teachers with different disciplinary affiliations responded to the ‘concept of thresholds’ in the course of a cross-disciplinary research project. It describes how the idea was territorialised and enacted through established materialising discourses in different disciplinary settings and enacted through pedagogical practice, technology and assessment. This has implications for professional development and pedagogical practice and endeavours to create ‘self-organising classrooms’ along Deleuzian (...) lines. (shrink)