Material Objects

Edited by Noel Saenz (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
About this topic
Summary Material objects (basketballs, planets, buildings, tables, chairs, electrons, organisms, etc.) have proved philosophically fascinating. Though they might, at first, appear to be those kinds of objects that pose the least amount of philosophical trouble, puzzles and questions concerning their nature have proved just as interesting, and intractable, as puzzles and questions over abstract and non-existent objects. In this section, papers dealing with questions having to do with their existence, persistence, mereology, location, constitution, origin, modal features, mind-independence, grounding status, causal role, place in a quantum world and perceptibility can be found.
Key works For some key works on the existence, mereology, and constitution of material objects, see VAN INWAGEN 1990, Merricks 2001, Rea 1997, Thomasson 2007 and Koslicki 2008. For some key works on the persistence, location, and modal features of material objects, see Heller 1990, Sider 2001 and Hawley 2001.
Introductions For a nice introduction on the philosophical issues surrounding ordinary material objects, see Korman 2011.
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  1. Materiality, Parthood, and Possibility.Samuele Iaquinto & Giuliano Torrengo - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-7.
    This paper offers an argument in favour of a Lewisian version of concretism that maintains both the principle of material inheritance (according to which, if all the parts of an object x are material, then x is material) and the materiality-modality link (that is, the principle that, for every x, if x is material, then x is possible).
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  2. Levels of Ontology and Natural Language: The Case of the Ontology of Parts and Wholes.Friederike Moltmann - forthcoming - In James Miller (ed.), The Language of Ontology. Oxford University Press.
    It is common in contemporary metaphysics to distinguish two levels of ontology: the ontology of ordinary objects and the ontology of fundamental reality. This papers argues that natural language reflects not only the ontology of ordinary objects, but also a language-driven ontology, which is involved in the mass-count distinction and part-structure-sensitive semantic selection, as well as perhaps the light ontology of pleonastic entities. The paper recasts my older theory of situated part structures without situations, making use of a primitive notion (...)
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  3. Bundle Theory and the Identity of Indiscernibles.Philip Swenson & Bradley Rettler - 2019 - Res Philosophica 96 (4):495-508.
    A and B continue their conversation concerning the Identity of Indiscernibles. Both are aware of recent critiques of the principle that haven’t received replies; B summarizes those critiques, and A offers the replies that are due. B then raises a new worry.
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  4. What is an Extended Simple Region?Zachary Goodsell, Michael Duncan & Kristie Miller - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    The notion of an extended simple region (henceforth ESR) has recently been marshalled in the service of arguments for a variety of conclusions. Exactly how to understand the idea of extendedness as it applies to simple regions, however, has been largely ignored, or, perhaps better, assumed. In this paper we first (§1) outline what we take to be the standard way that philosophers are thinking about extendedness, namely as an intrinsic property of regions. We then introduce an alternative picture (§2), (...)
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  5. From Lot's Wife to a Pillar of Salt: Evidence That Physical Object is a Sortal Concept.Fei Xu - 1997 - Mind and Language 12 (3-4):365-392.
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  6. From Lot's Wife to a Pillar of Salt: Evidence That Physical Object is a Sortal Concept.Fei Xu - 1997 - Mind and Language 12 (3-4):365-392.
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  7. El conservadurismo realista acerca de la composición de Daniel Korman.Ezequiel Zerbudis - 2018 - Cuadernos de Filosofía 36:33-53.
    In this paper I first present Dan Korman’s (2015) recent defence of a conservative view as regards the existence and composition of material objects, and then go on to criticize some of his arguments. I will focus on two related issues: on the one hand, I argue that his defense of that kind of view by making use of what he calls “arguments from counterexamples” has some metaontological presuppositions that are indeed unacceptable for someone defending the revisionist views he opposes; (...)
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  8. Frames and the Ontology of Particular Objects.David Hommen - 2018 - Dialectica 72 (3):385-409.
    The theory of frames has recently been proposed as a universal format for knowledge representation in language, cognition and science. Frames represent categories as well as individual objects and events in terms of recursive attribute-value structures. In this paper, we would like to explore the potential ontological commitments of frame-based knowledge representations, with particular emphasis on the ontological status of the possessors of quality attributes in individual object frames. While not strictly incompatible with nominalistic, bundle- or substratum-theoretic approaches to the (...)
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  9. From Potency to Act: Hyloenergeism.Jeremy W. Skrzypek - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    Many contemporary proponents of hylomorphism endorse a version of hylomorphism according to which the form of a material object is a certain kind of complex relation or structure. Structural approaches to form, however, seem not to capture form’s traditional role as the guarantor of diachronic identity, since more “dynamically complex” material objects, such as living organisms, seem to undergo, and survive, various structural changes over the course of their existence. As a result, some contemporary hylomorphists have looked to alternative, non-structural (...)
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  10. Sympathy for the Scientist: Re-Calibrating a Heideggerian Critique of Metaphysics.Jonathan Morgan - manuscript
    This paper attempts to develop an ethico-aesthetic framework for enriching one's life and ethical outlook. Drawing primarily from Nietzsche, Foucault, and Heidegger, an argument is made that Heidegger's understanding of this issue was mistaken. The ontological crisis of modernity is not the overt influence of mathematics as a worldview over poetics and more traditionally aesthetic approaches. It is the rampant mis-and over-application of abstraction within one's view of the world while denying the material realities of life as we live it. (...)
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  11. Easy Ontology, Application Conditions and Infinite Regress.Andrew Brenner - 2018 - Analysis 78 (4):605-614.
    In a number of recent publications Thomasson has defended a deflationary approach to ontological disputes, according to which ontological disputes are relatively easy to settle, by either conceptual analysis, or conceptual analysis in conjunction with empirical investigation. Thomasson’s “easy” approach to ontology is intended to derail many prominent ontological disputes. In this paper I present an objection to Thomasson’s approach to ontology. Thomasson’s approach to existence assertions means that she is committed to the view that application conditions associated with any (...)
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  12. Toward Companion Objects.Anna Mudde - 2018 - PhaenEx 12 (2):59-80.
    In this paper, I take up Graham Harman’s critique of the philosophy of access as well as his proposed non-anthropocentric ontology, and I ask what it would be like for human beings to live or practice such a proposal. Drawing on Harman’s thinking about prehension, but shifting focus towards work in critical phenomenology and feminist science studies, I argue for the importance of human prehensive self-awareness within non-anthropocentric ontological practices, an awareness that emerges phenomenologically and in practice. Extending both Donna (...)
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  13. Structures as Relations.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2018 - Synthese:1-20.
    I shall explore in this article the hypothesis that structures are relations between the components of complex entities. After having introduced hylomorphism, its major advantages and the major views of the nature of structures, I shall introduce the distinctions between external and internal relations and the one between symmetrical and non-symmetrical relations. I shall also describe the theory of non-symmetrical relations that I accept, i.e., the O-Roles theory, as most structures seem to be external and non-symmetrical relations. Later on, I (...)
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  14. The Paradox of Decrease and Dependent Parts.Alex Moran - 2018 - Ratio 31 (3):273-284.
    This paper is concerned with the paradox of decrease. Its aim is to defend the answer to this puzzle that was propounded by its originator, namely, the Stoic philosopher Chrysippus. The main trouble with this answer to the paradox is that it has the seemingly problematic implication that a material thing could perish due merely to extrinsic change. It follows that in order to defend Chrysippus’ answer to the paradox, one has to explain how it could be that Theon is (...)
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  15. Macroscopic Objects: An Exercise in Duhemian Ontology.Paul Needham - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (2):205-224.
    Aristotelian ideas are presented in a favorable light in Duhem's historical works surveying the history of the notion of chemical combination (1902) and the development of mechanics (1903). The importance Duhem was later to ascribe to Aristotelian ideas as reflected in the weight he attached to medieval science is well known. But the Aristotelian influence on his own mature philosophical perspective, and more particularly on his concern for logical coherence and the development of his ontological views, is not generally acknowledged. (...)
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  16. Ideas, Persons, and Objects in the History of Ideas.Bennett Gilbert - 2019 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 13 (2):141-162.
    The history of ideas is most prominently understood as a highly specialized group of methods for the study of abstract ideas, with both diachronic and synchronic aspects. While theorizing the field has focused on the methods of study, defining the object of study – ideas – has been neglected. But the development of the theories behind material culture studies poses a sharp challenge to these narrow approaches. It both challenges the integrity of the notion of abstract ideas and also offers (...)
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  17. Object.Bradley Rettler & Andrew M. Bailey - 2017 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  18. Epistemicism, Distribution, and the Argument From Vagueness.Ofra Magidor - 2018 - Noûs 52 (1):144-170.
    This paper consists of two parts. The first concerns the logic of vagueness. The second concerns a prominent debate in metaphysics. One of the most widely accepted principles governing the ‘definitely’ operator is the principle of Distribution: if ‘p’ and ‘if p then q’ are both definite, then so is ‘q’. I argue however, that epistemicists about vagueness should reject this principle. The discussion also helps to shed light on the elusive question of what, on this framework, it takes for (...)
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  19. What Is the Essence of an Essence? Comparing Afro-Relational and Western-Individualist Ontologies.Thaddeus Metz - 2018 - Synthesis Philosophica 65 (1):209-224.
    The dominant view amongst contemporary Western philosophers about the essence of a natu­ ral object is that it is constituted by its intrinsic properties. The ontological approach salient in the African philosophical tradition, in contrast, accounts for a thing’s essence by appeal to its relational properties. The Afro­relational ontology is under­developed, with the primary aim of this article being to help rectify that weakness. Specifically, this article’s aims are: to articulate an African approach to understanding the essence of a concrete, (...)
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  20. Three Concerns for Structural Hylomorphism.Jeremy Skrzypek - 2017 - Analytic Philosophy 58 (4):360-408.
    Many contemporary proponents of hylomorphism, the view that at least some material objects are comprised of both matter and form, endorse a version of hylomorphism according to which the form of a material object is a certain complex relation or structure. In this paper, I introduce three sorts of concerns for this “structural” approach. First, I argue that, in countenancing an abundance of overlapping yet numerically distinct material objects, “structural hylomorphists” are committed to a certain sort of systematic causal overdetermination. (...)
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  21. Henri Poincaré, ciência e materialismo: o papel das hipóteses na oscilação entre atomismo e continuísmo.Andre Carli Philot & Antonio A. P. Videira - 2013 - Kairos: Revista de Filosofia and Ciência 7:167-186.
    This article was produced as an introduction to a Portuguese translation of an article by Henri Poincaré titled "The new conceptions of matter". The aim of this introduction was to shortly summarize Poincaré's scientific and philosophical production, to approach the circumstances on which the text was originally presented and, finally, to analyze the relationship - or the lack of it - that Poincaré establishes between science and materialism.
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  22. Debunking Arguments in Metaethics and Metaphysics.Daniel Z. Korman - 2019 - In Alvin Goldman & Brian McLaughlin (eds.), Metaphysics and Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 337-363.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments abound, but it is widely assumed that they do not arise for our perceptual beliefs about midsized objects, insofar as the adaptive value of our object beliefs cannot be explained without reference to the objects themselves. I argue that this is a mistake. Just as with moral beliefs, the adaptive value of our object beliefs can be explained without assuming that the beliefs are accurate. I then explore the prospects for other sorts of vindications of our object (...)
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  23. Almost‐Ontology: Why Epistemicism Cannot Help Us Avoid Unrestricted Composition or Diachronic Plenitude.İrem Kurtsal Steen - 2014 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (1):130-139.
    That any filled location of spacetime contains a persisting thing has been defended based on the ‘argument from vagueness.’ It is often assumed that since the epistemicist account of vagueness blocks the argument from vagueness it facilitates a conservative ontology without gerrymandered objects. It doesn't. The epistemic vagueness of ordinary object predicates such as ‘bicycle’ requires that objects that can be described as almost‐but‐not‐quite‐bicycle exist even though they fall outside the predicate's sharp extension. Since the predicates that begin with ‘almost’ (...)
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  24. Hylemorphism and the Recent Views of the Constitution of Matter.William H. Kane - 1935 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 11:61.
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  25. The Location of Physical Objects.Olaf Stapledon - 1929 - Journal of Philosophical Studies 4 (13):64-75.
    Common sense holds that a physical object is confined to a definite region of space, and that it endures through a definite period of time. It scatters effects through other regions and periods, but it is the cause of those effects, and is just where it is and not everywhere. Physically its existence may entail other objects, but logically it entails nothing whatever beyond the limits of a certain volume.
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  26. The Parts and the Whole: Collapse Theories and Systems with Identical Constituents.GianCarlo Ghirardi - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (1):40-47.
    The very formal structure of quantum mechanics implies the loss of individuality of physical systems and it requires to look at the Universe as an unbroken whole. The main reason for which, within such a theory, one must renounce to a clear identification of the parts and the whole is the superposition principle which stays at the basis of the theory. It implies, as well known, the phenomenon of entanglement which, in the most extreme case, entails that the constituents of (...)
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  27. Naturoids: From Representations to Concrete Realizations.Massimo Negrotti - 2004 - Pragmatics and Cognition 12 (1):37-56.
    It is a commonplace to maintain that technology will never be able to reproduce a natural object in full detail. Nevertheless, if one tries to rigorously demonstrate the methodological foundation on which such an assumption is based, one finds a number of interesting problems to clarify. This paper attempts to provide a general framework for the understanding of naturoids, arguing that every naturoid — and the cognitive model upon which it is based — is the result of a reduction in (...)
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  28. Comment on Lowe.Crispin Wright - 1984 - Analysis 44 (4):183.
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  29. Constatations sur la composition de la 4e bucolique de Virgile.Jean-G. Préaux - 1963 - Revue Belge de Philologie Et D’Histoire 41 (1):63-79.
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  30. Aquinas on the Essential Composition of Objects.Meixner Uwe - unknown
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  31. Composition and Constitution: Heidegger’s Hammer.David R. Cerbone - 1999 - Philosophical Topics 27 (2):309-329.
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  32. Composition.A. L. Peck - 1928 - The Classical Review 42 (1):3-5.
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  33. The Paradox of Increase.Eric T. Olson - 2006 - The Monist 89 (3):390-417.
    The paradox of increase in an ancient argument purporting to show that nothing can grow by acquiring new parts. If it is sound, similar reasoning leads to the more general conclusion that nothing can ever change its parts. After discussing the implicationsof this principle, the paper lays out the paradox in a way that reveals the premises that figure in it. It emerges that the paradox has no easy solution, and can be resisted only by taking on one of five (...)
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  34. Peter Unger: Science and the Possibility of Philosophy.Alex Guerrero - 2001 - The Harvard Review of Philosophy 9 (1):46-56.
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  35. Material Difficulties: Matter and the Metaphysics of Resurrection in Early Modern Natural Philosophy.Christia Mercer - 2005 - Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 26 (2):123-135.
    When Bruno was burned at the stake in 1600, philosophers were still inclined to offer natural explanations in Aristotelian terms. Neither the physical proposals of Bruno himself, nor those of other prominent non-Aristotelians like Paracelsus had diminished the power of the explanatory model offered by the scholastics. For those philosophers watching the demise of Bruno in the Campo dei Fiori in Rome, the burning of the wood and its subsequent effects would have been explained adequately in terms of matter and (...)
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  36. Part Three: Issues Common to Parts One and Two.Ulrich Drobnig & Christian von Bar - 2009 - In Ulrich Drobnig & Christian von Bar (eds.), The Interaction of Contract Law and Tort and Property Law in Europe: A Comparative Study. Sellier de Gruyter.
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  37. 3. Material Und Methoden.Pia Bergmann - 2008 - In Regionalspezifische Intonationsverläufe Im Kölnischenspecific Regional Intonation Patterns in the German of Cologne. Formal and Functional Analyses of Rise-Fall Contours: Formale Und Funktionale Analysen Steigend-Fallender Konturen. Walter de Gruyter – Max Niemeyer Verlag.
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  38. The Composition and Redaction of the Book of Amos.Tchavdar S. Hadjiev - 2009 - Walter de Gruyter.
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  39. Placement Permissivism and Logics of Location.Shieva Kleinschmidt - 2016 - Journal of Philosophy 113 (3):117-136.
    All of the current leading theories of location are parsimonious: they have at most one locative primitive, and the definitions of all of the other locative relations appeal to nothing beyond that primitive, mereological properties and relations, and basic logic. I argue that if we believe there can be extended, mereologically simple regions, we can construct cases that are incompatible with every possible parsimonious theory of location. In these cases, an object is contained within a simple region that is larger (...)
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  40. The Non-Physicalness of Material Objects.Benedikt Schick, Edmund Runggaldier & Ludger Honnefelder - 2009 - In Benedikt Schick, Edmund Runggaldier & Ludger Honnefelder (eds.), Unity and Time in Metaphysics. Walter de Gruyter.
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  41. Material Beings.Michael Tye - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (4):881.
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  42. Material Objects.David Keyt - 1969 - Philosophical Review 78 (1):110.
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  43. The Constitution of Selves.Christopher Williams & Marya Schechtman - 1998 - Philosophical Review 107 (4):641.
    Can we understand what makes someone the same person without understanding what it is to be a person? Prereflectively we might not think so, but philosophers often accord these questions separate treatments, with personal-identity theorists claiming the first question and free-will theorists the second. Yet much of what is of interest to a person—the possibility of survival over time, compensation for past hardships, concern for future projects, or moral responsibility—is not obviously intelligible from the perspective of either question alone. Marya (...)
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  44. Dharmakośa. Rājanītikāṇḍa. Vol. IV, Parts V-VIDharmakosa. Rajanitikanda. Vol. IV, Parts V-VI.Ludwik Sternbach & Laxmanshastri Joshi - 1981 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 101 (4):482.
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  45. The Composition of the Book of Proverbs.Tova Forti & R. N. Whybray - 1996 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 116 (3):544.
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  46. The Composition of Mutanabbī's Panegyrics to Sayf Al-DawlaThe Composition of Mutanabbi's Panegyrics to Sayf Al-Dawla.Renate Jacobi, Andras Hamori, Mutanabbī & Mutanabbi - 1994 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 114 (4):685.
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  47. The Nāradasmṛti, Parts I and IIThe Naradasmrti, Parts I and II.Barend van Nooten & Richard W. Lariviere - 1992 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 112 (1):150.
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  48. La Statue de Tell Fekherye Et Son Inscription Bilingue assyroaraméenneLa Statue de Tell Fekherye Et Son Inscription Bilingue Assyroarameenne.Stephen A. Kaufman, A. Abou-Assaf, P. Bordreuil & A. Millard - 1984 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 104 (3):571.
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  49. On the Composition of the NāṭyaśāstraOn the Composition of the Natyasastra.Edwin Gerow & Srinivasa Ayya Srinivasan - 1983 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 103 (4):781.
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  50. An Elegant Composition Concerning Relief After Adversity.Roy P. Mottahedeh, Nissim ben Jacob ibn Shāhīn, William M. Brinner & Nissim ben Jacob ibn Shahin - 1983 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 103 (4):771.
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