About this topic
Summary A slogan form of the thesis of composition as identity says that a whole is the same as its parts. Beyond that, there is no agreement on what the thesis of composition as identity is. A strong version of it says that a whole is identical with its parts. More precisely, it says either that a whole is identical with each one of its parts distributively, but not with all of them collectively; or that a whole is identical with each one of its parts distributively and collectively; or that a whole is identical with all its parts collectively, but not distributively. Composition as identity is thus committed to, in some form or other, a revision or generalization of the traditional laws of identity. A weaker version of composition as identity says that composition is very much like, but not the same as, the identity relation.
Key works The classic readings are Baxter 1988, Baxter 1988, Lewis 1991 and Sider 2007
Introductions The only introductions to this topic are Wallace 2011, Wallace 2011 and Cotnoir 2014
Related categories

91 found
1 — 50 / 91
  1. A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - Cambridge University Press.
    In this important study D. M. Armstrong offers a comprehensive system of analytical metaphysics that synthesises but also develops his thinking over the last twenty years. Armstrong's analysis, which acknowledges the 'logical atomism' of Russell and Wittgenstein, makes facts the fundamental constituents of the world, examining properties, relations, numbers, classes, possibility and necessity, dispositions, causes and laws. All these, it is argued, find their place and can be understood inside a scheme of states of affairs. This is a comprehensive and (...)
  2. The Incompatibility of Composition as Identity, Priority Pluralism, and Irreflexive Grounding.Andrew M. Bailey - 2011 - Analytic Philosophy 52 (3):171-174.
    Some have it that wholes are, somehow, identical to their parts. This doctrine is as alluring as it is puzzling. But in this paper, I show that the doctrine is inconsistent with two widely accepted theses. Something has to go.
  3. Review of Objects and Persons, by Trenton Merricks. [REVIEW]Lynne Rudder Baker - 2003 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (4):597 – 598.
    Book Information Objects and Persons. Objects and Persons Trenton Merricks . Oxford: Clarendon Press , 2001 , pp. xii + 203 , £30 ( cloth ), £14.99 ( paper ) . By Trenton Merricks. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Pp. xii + 203. £30 (cloth:), £14.99 (paper:).
  4. Instantiation as Partial Identity: Replies to Critics. [REVIEW]Donald L. M. Baxter - 2013 - Axiomathes 23 (2):291-299.
    One of the advantages of my account in the essay “Instantiation as Partial Identity” was capturing the contingency of instantiation—something David Armstrong gave up in his experiment with a similar view. What made the contingency possible for me was my own non-standard account of identity, complete with the apparatus of counts and aspects. The need remains to lift some obscurity from the account in order to display its virtues to greater advantage. To that end, I propose to respond to those (...)
  5. Loose Identity and Becoming Something Else.Donald L. M. Baxter - 2001 - Noûs 35 (4):592–601.
    Armstrong has loose identity be an equivalence relation, yet in cases of something becoming something else, loose identity is not transitive. My alternate account has an attribution of loose identity be really two: a true attribution of an underlying relation (perhaps not transitive) and a false attribution--a Humean feigning-of strict identity. The feigning may become less appropriate as the underlying relation grows more distant. What makes it appropriate initially is that the underlying relation supports a predictable change in some collective. (...)
  6. Identity in the Loose and Popular Sense.Donald L. M. Baxter - 1988 - Mind 97 (388):575-582.
    This essay interprets Butler’s distinction between identity in the loose and popular sense and in the strict and philosophical sense. Suppose there are different standards for counting the same things. Then what are two distinct things counting strictly may be one and the same thing counting loosely. Within a given standard identity is one-one. But across standards it is many-one. An alternative interpretation using the parts-whole relation fails, because that relation should be understood as many-one identity. Another alternative making identity (...)
  7. Many-One Identity.Donald L. M. Baxter - 1988 - Philosophical Papers 17 (3):193-216.
    Two things become one thing, something having parts, and something becoming something else, are cases of many things being identical with one thing. This apparent contradiction introduces others concerning transitivity of identity, discernibility of identicals, existence, and vague existence. I resolve the contradictions with a theory that identity, number, and existence are relative to standards for counting. What are many on some standard are one and the same on another. The theory gives an account of the discernibility of identicals using (...)
  8. 'Nothing Over and Above' or 'Nothing'? On Eliminativism, Reductionism, and Composition.Jiri Benovsky - 2015 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 9 (2):7-17.
    In this article, I am interested in an issue concerning eliminativism about ordinary objects that can be put as the claim that the eliminativist is guilty of postulating the existence of something, but not of something that is identical to it. But, as we will see, this turns out to be a problem for everybody except the eliminativist. Indeed, this issue highlights a more general problem about the relationship between an entity and the parts the compose it. Furthermore, I am (...)
  9. Saving the Ship.John Biro - 2017 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 13 (2):43-54.
    In defending the startling claim that that there are no artifacts, indeed, no inanimate material objects of the familiar sort, Peter van Inwagen has argued that truths about such putative objects can be paraphrased as truths that do not make essential reference to them and that we should endorse only the ontological commitments of the paraphrase. In this note I argue that the paraphrases van Inwagen recommends cannot meet his condition. Read one way, they lose us some truths. Read another, (...)
  10. Composition as Identity: A Study in Ontology and Philosophical Logic.Einar Bohn - unknown
    In this work I first develop, motivate, and defend the view that mereological composition, the relation between an object and all its parts collectively, is a relation of identity. I argue that this view implies and hence can explain the logical necessity of classical mereology, the formal study of the part-whole relation. I then critically discuss four contemporary views of the same kind. Finally, I employ my thesis in a recent discussion of whether the world is fundamentally one in number.
  11. Composition as Identity and Plural Cantor's Theorem.Einar Duenger Bohn - 2016 - Logic and Logical Philosophy 25 (3).
    I argue that Composition as Identity blocks the plural version of Cantor's Theorem, and that therefore the plural version of Cantor's Theorem can no longer be uncritically appealed to. As an example, I show how this result blocks a recent argument by Hawthorne and Uzquiano.
  12. From Hume's Dictum Via Submergence to Composition as Identity or Mereological Nihilism.Einar Duenger Bohn - 2014 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (1):336-355.
    I show that a particular version of Hume's Dictum together with the falsity of Composition as Identity entails an incoherency, so either that version of Hume's Dictum is false or Composition as Identity is true. I conditionally defend the particular version of Hume's Dictum in play, and hence conditionally conclude that Composition as Identity is true. I end by suggesting an alternative way out for a persistent foe of Composition as Identity, namely mereological nihilism.
  13. Unrestricted Composition as Identity.Einar Duenger Bohn - 2014 - In Donald Baxter & Aaron Cotnoir (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press.
    In this paper I argue that composition as identity entails unrestricted composition. I also briefly consider a new take on the special composition question.
  14. Monism, Emergence, and Plural Logic.Einar Duenger Bohn - 2012 - Erkenntnis 76 (2):211-223.
    In this paper I argue that we need to take irreducibly plural logic more seriously in metaphysical debates due to the fact that the verdict of many metaphysical debates hangs on it. I give two examples. The main example I focus on is the debate recently revived by Jonathan Schaffer over the fundamental cardinality of the world. I show how the three main arguments provided by Schaffer are unsound in virtue of an employment of plural logic. The second example I (...)
  15. Commentary on "Parts of Classes".Einar Duenger Bohn - 2011 - Humana.Mente Journal of Philosophical Studies 19.
    In this short piece I provide an interpretation of David Lewis' thesis of Composition as Identity.
  16. The Logic of the Trinity.Einar Duenger Bohn - 2011 - Sophia 50 (3):363-374.
    Roughly, the problem of the Trinity is the problem of how God can be one and yet be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which are three, not one. That one thing is identical with three distinct things seems to violate traditional laws of identity. I propose a solution to this problem according to which it is just an ordinary claim of one-many identity. For example, one pair of shoes is identical with two shoes; and my one body (...)
  17. Counterpart Theory Vindicated: A Reply to Merricks.Andrea Borghini - 2005 - Dialectica 59 (1):67–73.
    The paper shows – contra what has been argued by Trenton Merricks – that counterpart theory, when conjoined with composition as identity, does not entail mereological essentialism. What Merrick’s argument overlooks is that contingent identity is but one of the effects of grounding identity across possible worlds on similarity.
  18. Mereological Monism and Humean Supervenience.Andrea Borghini & Giorgio Lando - forthcoming - Synthese:1-21.
    According to Lewis, mereology is the general and exhaustive theory of ontological composition, and every contingent feature of the world supervenes upon some fundamental properties instantiated by minimal entities. A profound analogy can be drawn between these two basic contentions of his metaphysics, namely that both can be intended as a denial of emergentism. In this essay, we study the relationships between Humean supervenience and two philosophical spin-offs of mereological monism: the possibility of gunk and the thesis of composition as (...)
  19. Composition as a Kind of Identity.Phillip Bricker - 2016 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (3):264-294.
    Composition as identity, as I understand it, is a theory of the composite structure of reality. The theory’s underlying logic is irreducibly plural; its fundamental primitive is a generalized identity relation that takes either plural or singular arguments. Strong versions of the theory that incorporate a generalized version of the indiscernibility of identicals are incompatible with the framework of plural logic, and should be rejected. Weak versions of the theory that are based on the idea that composition is merely analogous (...)
  20. Failure of Boredom: The Pendulum of Composition as Identity.Claudio Calosi - 2018 - American Philosophical Quarterly 55 (3):281-292.
    This paper provides new arguments for the following claim: either strong composition as identity cannot retain the full strength of both the logical principles of one-one identity and its semantical principles or it only delivers cases of boring composition in that it entails mereological nihilism.
  21. Composition, Identity, and Emergence.Claudio Calosi - 2016 - Logic and Logical Philosophy 25 (3):429-443.
    Composition as Identity is the thesis that a whole is, strictly and literally, identical to its parts, considered collectively. McDaniel [2008] argues against CAI in that it prohibits emergent properties. Recently Sider [2014] exploited the resources of plural logic and extensional mereology to undermine McDaniel’s argument. He shows that CAI identifies extensionally equivalent pluralities – he calls it the Collapse Principle – and then shows how this identification rescues CAI from the emergentist argument. In this paper I first give a (...)
  22. Composition is Identity and Mereological Nihilism.Claudio Calosi - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263):219-235.
    Composition is Identity is the thesis that a whole is, strict and literally, its parts considered collectively. Mereological Nihilism is the thesis that there are no composite objects whatsoever instead. This paper argues that they are equivalent, at least insofar as Composition is Identity is phrased in a particular way. It then addresses some consequences of such equivalence.
  23. Humean Supervenience, Composition as Identity and Quantum Wholes.Claudio Calosi & Matteo Morganti - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (6):1173-1194.
    In this paper, we focus on two related reductive theses in metaphysics—Humean Supervenience and Composition as Identity—and on their status in light of the indications coming from science, in particular quantum mechanics. While defenders of these reductive theses claim that they can be updated so as to resist the quantum evidence, we provide arguments against this contention. We claim that physics gives us reason for thinking that both Humean Supervenience and Composition as Identity are at least contingently false, as the (...)
  24. Parts Generate the Whole, but They Are Not Identical to It.Ross P. Cameron - 2014 - In Aaron J. Cotnoir & Donald L. M. Baxter (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press.
    The connection between whole and part is intimate: not only can we share the same space, but I’m incapable of leaving my parts behind; settle the nonmereological facts and you thereby settle what is a part of what; wholes don’t seem to be an additional ontological commitment over their parts. Composition as identity promises to explain this intimacy. But it threatens to make the connection too intimate, for surely the parts could have made a different whole and the whole have (...)
  25. Composition as Identity Doesn't Settle the Special Composition Question.Ross P. Cameron - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (3):531-554.
    Orthodoxy says that the thesis that composition is identity (CAI) entails universalism: the claim that any collection of entities has a sum. If this is true it counts in favour of CAI, since a thesis about the nature of composition that settles the otherwise intractable special composition question (SCQ) is desirable. But I argue that it is false: CAI is compatible with the many forms of restricted composition, and SCQ is no easier to answer given CAI than otherwise. Furthermore, in (...)
  26. The Contingency of Composition.Ross P. Cameron - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (1):99-121.
    There is widespread disagreement as to what the facts are concerning just when a collection of objects composes some further object; but there is widespread agreement that, whatever those facts are, they are necessary. I am unhappy to simply assume this, and in this paper I ask whether there is reason to think that the facts concerning composition hold necessarily. I consider various reasons to think so, but find fault with each of them. I examine the theory of composition as (...)
  27. Composition and Relative Counting.Massimiliano Carrara & Giorgio Lando - 2017 - Dialectica 71 (4):489-529.
    According to the so-called strong variant of Composition as Identity (CAI), the Principle of Indiscernibility of Identicals can be extended to composition, by resorting to broadly Fregean relativizations of cardinality ascriptions. In this paper we analyze various ways in which this relativization could be achieved. According to one broad variety of relativization, cardinality ascriptions are about objects, while concepts occupy an additional argument place. It should be possible to paraphrase the cardinality ascriptions in plural logic and, as a consequence, relative (...)
  28. Composition, Indiscernibility, Coreferentiality.Massimiliano Carrara & Giorgio Lando - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (1):119-142.
    According to strong composition as identity, the logical principles of one–one and plural identity can and should be extended to the relation between a whole and its parts. Otherwise, composition would not be legitimately regarded as an identity relation. In particular, several defenders of strong CAI have attempted to extend Leibniz’s Law to composition. However, much less attention has been paid to another, not less important feature of standard identity: a standard identity statement is true iff its terms are coreferential. (...)
  29. Composition as General Identity.A. J. Cotnoir - 2013 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. pp. 294-322.
  30. Composition as Identity.A. J. Cotnoir & Donald L. M. Baxter (eds.) - 2014 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Composition is the relation between a whole and its parts--the parts are said to compose the whole; the whole is composed of the parts. But is a whole anything distinct from its parts taken collectively? It is often said that 'a whole is nothing over and above its parts'; but what might we mean by that? Could it be that a whole just is its parts?This collection of essays is the first of its kind to focus on the relationship between (...)
  31. Composition as Identity: Framing the Debate.Aaron Cotnoir - 2014 - In Aaron Cotnoir & Donald Baxter (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press.
  32. Composition as Identity, Edited by A.J. Cotnoir and Donald L.M. Baxter. [REVIEW]Antony Eagle - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (1):190-193.
  33. Debunking a Mereological Myth: If Composition as Identity is True, Universalism Need Not Be.Nikk Effingham - unknown
    It is a common view that if composition as identity is true, then so is mereological universalism (the thesis that all objects have a mereological fusion). Various arguments have been advanced in favour of this: (i) there has been a recent argument by Merricks, (ii) some claim that Universalism is entailed by the ontological innocence of the identity relation, (or that ontological innocence undermines objections to universalism) and (iii) it is entailed by the law of selfidentity. After a preliminary introduction (...)
  34. Composition as Identity. [REVIEW]A. R. J. Fisher - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (267):409-412.
  35. Higher-Order One–Many Problems in Plato's Philebus and Recent Australian Metaphysics.S. Gibbons & C. Legg - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (1):119 - 138.
    We discuss the one?many problem as it appears in the Philebus and find that it is not restricted to the usually understood problem about the identity of universals across particulars that instantiate them (the Hylomorphic Dispersal Problem). In fact some of the most interesting aspects of the problem occur purely with respect to the relationship between Forms. We argue that contemporary metaphysicians may draw from the Philebus at least three different one?many relationships between universals themselves: instantiation, subkind and part, and (...)
  36. Aaron J. Cotnoir and Donald L. M. Baxter, Eds., Composition as Identity. Reviewed By.Cameron Gibbs - 2015 - Philosophy in Review 35 (6):287-289.
  37. Why the Social Sciences Are Irreducible.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2017 - Synthese:1-27.
    It is often claimed that the social sciences cannot be reduced to a lower-level individualistic science. The standard argument for this position is the Fodorian multiple realizability argument. Its defenders endorse token–token identities between “higher-level” social objects and pluralities/sums of “lower-level” individuals, but they maintain that the properties expressed by social science predicates are often multiply realizable, entailing that type–type identities between social and individualistic properties are ruled out. In this paper I argue that the multiple realizability argument for explanatory (...)
  38. Ontological Innocence.Katherine Hawley - 2014 - In A. J. Cotnoir & Donald L. M. Baxter (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press. pp. 70-89.
    In this chapter, I examine Lewis's ideas about ontological innocence, ontological commitment and double-counting, in his discussion of composition as identity in Parts of Classes. I attempt to understand these primarily as epistemic or methodological claims: how far can we get down this route without adopting radical metaphysical theses about composition as identity?
  39. Cut the Pie Any Way You Like? Cotnoir on General Identity.Katherine Hawley - 2013 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 8:323-30.
    This is a short response to Aaron Cotnoir's 'Composition as General Identity', in which I suggest some further applications of his ideas, and try to press the question of why we should think of his 'general identity relation' as a genuine identity relation.
  40. Two Defenses of Composition as Identity.Paul Hovda - manuscript
  41. Is a Thing Just the Sum of its Parts?Christopher Hughes - 1986 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 86:213-234.
  42. Many-One Identity and the Trinity.Shieva Kleinschmidt - 2012 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 4:84-96.
    Trinitarians claim there are three Divine persons each of which is God, and yet there is only one God. It seems they want three to equal one. It just so happens, some metaphysicians claim exactly that. They accept Composition as Identity: each fusion is identical to the plurality of its parts. I evaluate Composition as Identity's application to the doctrine of the Trinity, and argue that it fails to give the Trinitairan any options he or she didn't already have. Further, (...)
  43. The Structure of Objects.Kathrin Koslicki - 2008 - Oxford University Press.
    The objects we encounter in ordinary life and scientific practice - cars, trees, people, houses, molecules, galaxies, and the like - have long been a fruitful source of perplexity for metaphysicians. The Structure of Objects gives an original analysis of those material objects to which we take ourselves to be committed in our ordinary, scientifically informed discourse. Koslicki focuses on material objects in particular, or, as metaphysicians like to call them "concrete particulars", i.e., objects which occupy a single region of (...)
  44. What Do We Want to Know When We Ask the Simple Question?David Mark Kovacs - 2014 - Philosophical Quarterly 64 (255):254-266.
    The Simple Question (SQ) asks: “What are the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions any x must satisfy in order for it to be true that x is a simple?” The main motivation for asking SQ stems from the hope that it could teach us important lessons for material-object ontology. It is universally accepted that a proper answer to it has to be finite, complete and devoid of mereological expressions. This paper argues that we should stop treating SQ as the central (...)
  45. Any Sum or Parts Which Are Water is Water.Henry Laycock - 2011 - Humana Mente 19 (1):41-55.
    Mereological entities often seem to violate ‘ordinary’ ideas of what a concrete object can be like, behaving more like sets than like Aristotelian substances. However, the mereological notions of ‘part’, ‘composition’, and ‘sum’ or ‘fusion’ appear to find concrete realisation in the actual semantics of mass nouns. Quine notes that ‘any sum of parts which are water is water’; and the wine from a single barrel can be distributed around the globe without affecting its identity. Is there here, as some (...)
  46. Composition and Identities.Manuel Lechthaler - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Otago
    Composition as Identity is the view that an object is identical to its parts taken collectively. I elaborate and defend a theory based on this idea: composition is a kind of identity. Since this claim is best presented within a plural logic, I develop a formal system of plural logic. The principles of this system differ from the standard views on plural logic because one of my central claims is that identity is a relation which comes in a variety of (...)
  47. Mereological Composition and Plural Quantifier Semantics.Manuel Lechthaler & Ceth Lightfield - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-16.
    Mereological universalists and nihilists disagree on the conditions for composition. In this paper, we show how this debate is a function of one’s chosen semantics for plural quantifiers. Debating mereologists have failed to appreciate this point because of the complexity of the debate and extraneous theoretical commitments. We eliminate this by framing the debate between universalists and nihilists in a formal model where these two theses about composition are contradictory. The examination of the two theories in the model brings clarity (...)
  48. The Calculus of Individuals and its Uses.Henry S. Leonard & Nelson Goodman - 1940 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 5 (2):45-55.
  49. Many, but Almost One.David Lewis - 1993 - In Keith Cambell, John Bacon & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.), Ontology, Causality and Mind: Essays on the Philosophy of D. M. Armstrong. Cambridge University Press. pp. 23-38.
  50. Parts of Classes.David Lewis - 1991 - Blackwell.
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