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

92 found
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  1. added 2018-08-30
    Contingent Composition as Identity.Giorgio Lando & Massimiliano Carrara - forthcoming - Synthese:1-30.
    When the Necessity of Identity (NI) is combined with Composition as Identity (CAI), the contingency of composition (CC) is at risk. In the extant literature, either NI is seen as the basis for a refutation of CAI or CAI is associated with a theory of modality, such that: either NI is renounced (if counterpart theory is adopted); or CC is renounced (if the theory of modal parts is adopted). In this paper, we investigate the prospects of a new variety of (...)
  2. added 2018-07-29
    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.
  3. added 2018-07-29
    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 (...)
  4. added 2018-07-29
    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 (...)
  5. added 2018-07-14
    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, (...)
  6. added 2018-04-03
    Mereological Composition and Plural Quantifier Semantics.Manuel Lechthaler & Ceth Lightfield - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (4):943-958.
    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 (...)
  7. added 2018-03-05
    Composition as Abstraction.Jeffrey Sanford Russell - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (9):453-470.
    The existence of mereological sums can be derived from an abstraction principle in a way analogous to numbers. I draw lessons for the thesis that “composition is innocent” from neo-Fregeanism in the philosophy of mathematics.
  8. added 2018-03-05
    Composition as Identity. [REVIEW]A. R. J. Fisher - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (267):409-412.
  9. added 2018-02-17
    '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 (...)
  10. added 2018-02-17
    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.
  11. added 2018-02-16
    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 (...)
  12. added 2017-10-17
    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 (...)
  13. added 2017-03-07
    A Sudden Collapse to Nihilism.Roberto Loss - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (271):370-375.
    According to Composition is Identity, a whole is literally identical to the plurality of its parts. According to Mereological Nihilism, nothing has proper parts. In this note, it is argued that Composition is Identity can be shown to entail Mereological Nihilism in a much more simple and direct way than the one recently proposed by Claudio Calosi.
  14. added 2017-02-01
    Is a Whole Identical to its Parts?Theodore Scaltsas - 1990 - Mind 99 (396):583-598.
  15. added 2017-01-19
    Distinctness and Non-Identity.David H. Sanford - 2005 - Analysis 65 (4):269–274.
    The following statement (A) is usually abbreviated with symbols: (A) There are items X and Y, each is F, X is not identical to Y, and everything F is identical to X or is identical to Y. (A) is neither necessary nor sufficient for the existence of exactly two distinct things that are F. Some things are neither identical nor distinct. The difference between distinctness and nonidentity makes a difference in asking questions about counting, constitution, and persistence.
  16. added 2016-12-12
    Universalism entails Extensionalism.Achille C. Varzi - 2009 - Analysis 69 (4):599-604.
    I argue that Universalism (the thesis that mereological composition is unrestricted) entails Extensionalism (the thesis that sameness of composition is sufficient for identity) as long as the parthood relation is transitive and satisfies the Weak Supplementation principle (to the effect that whenever a thing has a proper part, it has another part disjoint from the first).
  17. added 2016-12-11
    A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1996 - 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 (...)
  18. added 2016-12-09
    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 (...)
  19. added 2016-12-08
    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 (...)
  20. added 2016-12-08
    The Extensionality of Parthood and Composition.Achille C. Varzi - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (230):108-133.
    I focus on three mereological principles: the Extensionality of Parthood (EP), the Uniqueness of Composition (UC), and the Extensionality of Composition (EC). These principles are not equivalent. Nonetheless, they are closely related (and often equated) as they all reflect the basic nominalistic dictum, No difference without a difference maker. And each one of them—individually or collectively—has been challenged on philosophical grounds. In the first part I argue that such challenges do not quite threaten EP insofar as they are either self-defeating (...)
  21. added 2016-11-12
    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.
  22. added 2016-11-12
    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 (...)
  23. added 2016-10-11
    Counting on Strong Composition as Identity to Settle the Special Composition Question.Joshua Spencer - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (4):857-872.
    Strong Composition as Identity is the thesis that necessarily, for any xs and any y, those xs compose y iff those xs are non-distributively identical to y. Some have argued against this view as follows: if some many things are non-distributively identical to one thing, then what’s true of the many must be true of the one. But since the many are many in number whereas the one is not, the many cannot be identical to the one. Hence is mistaken. (...)
  24. added 2016-08-11
    Composition as Identity Does Not Entail Universalism.Kris McDaniel - 2010 - Erkenntnis 73 (1):97-100.
  25. added 2016-05-06
    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 (...)
  26. added 2016-03-04
    ‘Identity’ as a Mereological Term.Jeroen Smid - 2017 - Synthese 194 (7):2367-2385.
    The mereological predicate ‘is part of’ can be used to define the predicate ‘is identical with’. I argue that this entails that mereological theories can be ideologically simpler than nihilistic theories that do not use the notion of parthood—contrary to what has been argued by Ted Sider. Moreover, if one accepts an extensional mereology, there are good philosophical reasons apart from ideological simplicity to give a mereological definition of identity.
  27. added 2016-01-19
    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. (...)
  28. added 2016-01-19
    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 (...)
  29. added 2016-01-19
    Aaron J. Cotnoir and Donald L. M. Baxter, Eds., Composition as Identity. Reviewed By.Cameron Gibbs - 2015 - Philosophy in Review 35 (6):287-289.
  30. added 2016-01-09
    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. (...)
  31. added 2015-12-09
    Parts Ground the Whole and Are Identical to It.Roberto Loss - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3):489-498.
    What is the relation between parts taken together and the whole that they compose? The recent literature appears to be dominated by two different answers to this question, which are normally thought of as being incompatible. According to the first, parts taken together are identical to the whole that they compose. According to the second, the whole is grounded in its parts. The aim of this paper is to make some theoretical room for the view according to which parts ground (...)
  32. added 2015-11-16
    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.
  33. added 2015-10-27
    On the Nature of Certain Philosophical Entities - Set Theoretic Constructionalism in the Metaphysics of David Lewis.Gideon Rosen - 2015 - In Barry Loewer & Jonathan Schaffer (eds.), A Companion to David Lewis. Willey Blackwell. pp. 382-398.
  34. added 2015-10-23
    The Ontological Parsimony of Mereology.Jeroen Smid - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (12):3253-3271.
    Lewis famously argued that mereology is ontologically innocent. Many who have considered this claim believe he was mistaken. Mereology is not innocent, because its acceptance entails the acceptance of sums, new objects that were not previously part of one’s ontology. This argument, the argument from ontological parsimony, has two versions: a qualitative and a quantitative one. I argue that the defender of mereology can neutralize both arguments by holding that, given mereology, a commitment to the parts of an object is (...)
  35. added 2015-08-24
    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.
  36. added 2015-05-11
    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 (...)
  37. added 2015-04-05
    Is a Thing Just the Sum of its Parts?Christopher Hughes - 1986 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 86:213-234.
  38. added 2015-04-04
    Composition as Identity: Part 1.Megan B. Wallace - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (11):804-816.
    Many of us think that ordinary objects – such as tables and chairs – exist. We also think that ordinary objects have parts: my chair has a seat and some legs as parts, for example. But once we are committed to the thesis that ordinary objects are composed of parts, we then open ourselves up to a whole host of philosophical problems, most of which center on what exactly the composition relation is. Composition as Identity is the view that the (...)
  39. added 2015-03-17
    Identity.Harold Noonan & Benjamin L. Curtis - 2014 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Much of the debate about identity in recent decades has been about personal identity, and specifically about personal identity over time, but identity generally, and the identity of things of other kinds, have also attracted attention. Various interrelated problems have been at the centre of discussion, but it is fair to say that recent work has focussed particularly on the following areas: the notion of a criterion of identity; the correct analysis of identity over time, and, in particular, the disagreement (...)
  40. added 2015-03-05
    Parts and Wholes.Kris McDaniel - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (5):412-425.
    Philosophical questions concerning parts and wholes have received a tremendous amount of the attention of contemporary analytic metaphysicians. In what follows, I discuss some of the central questions. The questions to be discussed are: how general is parthood? Are there different kinds of parthood or ways to be a part? Can two things be composed of the same parts? When does composition occur? Can material objects gain or lose parts? What is the logical form of the parthood relation enjoyed by (...)
  41. added 2015-03-05
    Objects and Persons.Trenton Merricks - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
    Objects and Persons presents an original theory about what kinds of things exist. Trenton Merricks argues that there are no non-living inanimate macrophysical objects -- no statues or rocks or chairs or stars -- because they would have no causal role over and above the causal role of their microphysical parts. Humans do exist: we have non-redundant causal powers. Along the way, Merricks has interesting things to say about mental causation, free will, and various philosophical puzzles. Anyone working in metaphysics (...)
  42. added 2015-02-13
    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:).
  43. added 2014-10-09
    Mereology.Achille C. Varzi - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    An overview of contemporary part-whole theories, with reference to both their axiomatic developments and their philosophical underpinnings.
  44. added 2014-10-09
    Counting and Countenancing.Achille C. Varzi - 2014 - In Aaron J. Cotnoir & Donald L. M. Baxter (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press. pp. 47–69.
    I endorse Composition as Identity, broadly and loosely understood as the thesis that a composite whole is nothing over and above its parts, and the parts nothing over and above the whole. Thus, given an object, x, composed of n proper parts, y1, ..., yn, I feel the tension between my Quinean heart and its Lewisian counterpart. I feel the tension between my obligation to countenance n+1 things, x and the y’s, each of which is a distinct portion of reality, (...)
  45. added 2014-04-02
    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.
  46. added 2014-03-22
    Is Mereology Ontologically Innocent?Byeong-Uk Yi - 1999 - Philosophical Studies 93 (2):141-160.
  47. added 2014-03-21
    Composition as Identity, Mereological Essentialism, and Counterpart Theory.Trenton Merricks - 1999 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (2):192 – 195.
  48. added 2014-03-20
    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.
  49. added 2014-03-20
    Composition and Vagueness.Trenton Merricks - 2005 - Mind 114 (455):615-637.
    says that there are some composite objects. And it says that some objects jointly compose nothing at all. The main threat to restricted composition is the in.uential and widely defended Vagueness Argument. We shall see that the Vagueness Argument fails. In seeing how this argument fails, we shall discover a new focus for the debate over composition's extent.
  50. added 2014-03-17
    On Composition as Identity.Meg Wallace - manuscript
    Some mereologists boast that their view of parts and wholes is ontologically innocent.[Lewis 1991: 72-87] They claim that a fusion is nothing over and above its parts; once you’ve committed to the parts, you get the fusion for free. In other words, fusions are not a further ontological commitment beyond the commitment to the parts. There are various proposals to explain how it is that fusions can come about so cheap. Perhaps the most straightforward of these explanations, and the one (...)
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