We start by presenting three different views that jointly imply that all people have a large number of conscious beings in their immediate vicinity, and that the number greatly varies from person to person. We then present and assess an argument to the conclusion that how confident people should be in these views should sensitively depend on how massive they happen to be. According to the argument, sometimes irreducibly de se observations can be powerful evidence for or against believing in (...) metaphysical theories. (shrink)
Thomas Aquinas embraces a controversial claim about the way in which parts of a substance depend on the substance’s substantial form. On his metaphysics, a ‘substantial form’ is not merely a relation among already existing things, in virtue of which (for example) the arrangement or configuration of those things would count as a substance. The substantial form is rather responsible for the identity or nature of the parts of the substance such a form constitutes. Aquinas’ controversial claim can be roughly (...) put as the view that things are members of their kind in virtue of their substantial form. To put it simply, Aquinas’ claim results in the implication that, every time the xs come to compose a y, those xs have to undergo a change in kind membership. -/- This has been called the “homonymy principle,” and it follows from Aquinas’ view of substantial forms, and specifically from the position that substantial forms inform prime matter, rather than substance-parts. The aim of this paper will be to defend that the Thomistic claim that substantial forms account for the determinate actuality of every part of a substance is plausible and coherent. After defending the Thomistic account, I propose that approaching problems of material composition as a Thomist has a significant, oft-overlooked advantage of involving a thorough-going naturalistic methodology that resolves such problems by appeal to empirical considerations. (shrink)
The thesis of Weak Unrestricted Composition says that every pair of objects has a fusion. This thesis has been argued by Contessa and Smith to be compatible with the world being junky and hence to evade an argument against the necessity of Strong Unrestricted Composition proposed by Bohn. However, neither Weak Unrestricted Composition alone nor the different variants of it that have been proposed in the literature can provide us with a satisfying answer to the special composition question, or so (...) we will argue. We will then go on to explore an alternative family of purely mereological rules in the vicinity of Weak Unrestricted Composition, Cardinal Composition: A plurality of pairwise non-overlapping objects composes an object iff the objects in the plurality are of cardinality smaller than $$\kappa $$ κ. As we will show, all the instances for infinite $$\kappa $$ κ s determine fusion and are compatible with junk, and every instance for a $$\kappa > \aleph _0$$ κ > ℵ 0 is furthermore compatible with gunk and dense chains of parthood. (shrink)
A compositional nihilist believes that the only objects that exist are simples. However, a non-nihilist believes in the existence of composite objects and challenges the nihilist to explain why there are true sentences about chairs, tables, etc., if composite objects do not exist. Different nihilist views have been suggested to explain this (the paraphrase strategy and the truthmaker theory), but I believe that they are unsuccessful (either they do not successfully paraphrase every sentence apparently about composite objects, or they are (...) not precise about the truthmakers of those sentences). I will suggest that a new truthmaker theory, which uses resources from Cameron’s truthmaker theory and van Inwagen’s paraphrase strategy, can give such an explanation and does not face the problems of other theories. Therefore, we have a good reason to accept this truthmaker theory as the best nihilist way to accommodate sentences apparently about composite objects. (shrink)
The Odd Universe Argument aims to show that from four intuitive assumptions about parts and wholes, we can conclude a priori that there is an odd number of things in the universe. This Element is an opinionated survey of philosophical issues involving parthood, composition, identity, and counting, guided by an investigation into where this argument has gone awry. We first walk through some general methodology, basic mereology, and plural logic. Next, we explore questions about the nature of composition and decomposition. (...) Does composition always occur? Never? Sometimes? Is the universe, at rock bottom, just many partless bits (simples)? Or do the parts have parts all the way down (gunk)? We then turn to arguments for and against the thesis that composition is identity, with a healthy bias in its favor. We conclude with a return to the odd universe argument, and my thoughts on how best to solve it. -/- *Free to download June 7 to June 21, 2023. (shrink)
The Discourse of Universalism , Moral Relativism & Utilitarianism Table of Contents: Chapter 1. Moral relativism: history and theory of moral relativism: Ancient Greece and Early Modern Era Chapter 2. Universalism and Relativism Chapter 3. Hume's Universalism Chapter 4. Plato's Universalism Chapter 5. Problems with Rawls Theory Chapter 6. Aristotle's Relativism Chapter 7. Is Aristotle an ethical relativist? Chapter 8. John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism Chapter 9. Mill and Principle of Utility Chapter 10. Kant and Moral Theory The historian Herodotus gives (...) the anecdote of Darius, King of Persia, who summoned the Greeks and asked them if they would be willing to eat the bodies of their dead fathers. They replied they would not for any money in the world. Later, Darius asked some Indians of the tribe called Callatiae, who do eat their dead parents’ bodies, if they would ever consider burning the bodies, as was the custom among Greeks. “One can see by this what custom can do” writes Herodotus. He draws the conclusion that this story vindicates the view some acts may be right for some and wrong for others, depending on their individual conceptions of morality. The Sophists were also associated with relativistic thinking, notably Protagoras who asserts that “man is the measure of all things”. However, this view was quite uncommon and moral relativism hardly flourished, as Plato and Aristotle both defended forms of moral absolutism. Ancient Greek philosophers acknowledged moral diversity, but more often under the form of moral scepticism, which states that there is no moral knowledge (rather than moral truth is relative to a culture). (shrink)
Radically permissive ontologies like mereological universalism and material plenitude are typically motivated by concerns about arbitrariness or anthropocentrism: it would be objectionably arbitrary, the thought goes, to countenance only those objects that we ordinarily take there to be. Despite the prevalence of this idea, it isn't at all clear what it is for a theory to be “objectionably arbitrary,” or what follows from a commitment to avoiding arbitrariness in metaphysics. This paper aims to clarify both questions, and examines whether arguments (...) from arbitrariness really are the proper foundations for one or both varieties of ontological permissivism. I argue that these considerations (even when made more precise) are far less successful at motivating radical forms of permissivism than we often take them to be. To do better, permissivists must either supply a much more developed metaphysics of material objects, or a controversial (but tempting) conception of what we're doing when we do metaphysics. (shrink)
On many currently popular ontologies of material objects, we share our place with numerous shorter-lived things that came into existence after we did or will go out of existence before we will. Subpeople are intrinsically indistinguishable from possible people, and as several authors pointed out, this raises grave ethical concerns: it threatens to make any sacrifice for long-term goals impermissible, as well as to undermine our standard practices of punishment, reward, grief, and utility calculation. The aim in this paper is (...) to offer a unified set of solutions to these problems. The paper’s starting point is the "self-making view," according to which our de se beliefs help determine our own spatiotemporal boundaries. This paper argues that the self-making view also plays a key role in the best treatment of the moral problems of subpeople. (shrink)
I argue that the growing-block theory of time and truthmaker maximalism jointly entail that some truthmakers undergo mereological change as time passes. Central to my argument is a grounding-based account of what I call the “purely incremental” nature of the growing-block theory of time. As I will show, the argument presented in this paper suggests that growing-block theorists endorsing truthmaker maximalism have reasons to take composition to be restricted and the “block” of reality to literally grow as time goes by.
If two self-connected individuals are connected, it follows in classical extensional mereotopology that the sum of those individuals is self-connected too. Since mainland Europe and mainland Asia, for example, are both self-connected and connected to each other, mainland Eurasia is also self-connected. In contrast, in non-extensional mereotopologies, two individuals may have more than one sum, in which case it does not follow from their being self-connected and connected that the sum of those individuals is self-connected too. Nevertheless, one would still (...) expect it to follow that a sum of connected self-connected individuals is self-connected too. In this paper, we present some surprising countermodels which show that this conjecture is incorrect. (shrink)
Amie Thomasson and Eli Hirsch have both attempted to deflate metaphysics, by combining Carnapian ideas with an appeal to ordinary language. My main aim in this paper is to critique such deflationary appeals to ordinary language. Focussing on Thomasson, I draw two very general conclusions. First: ordinary language is a wildly complicated phenomenon. Its implicit ontological commitments can only be tackled by invoking a context principle; but this will mean that ordinary language ontology is not a trivial enterprise. Second: ordinary (...) language often points in different directions simultaneously, so that a wide variety of existence questions cannot be deflated merely by appealing to ordinary language. (shrink)
Ned Markosian has recently defended a new theory of composition, which he calls regionalism : some material objects xx compose something if and only if there is a material object located at the fusion of the locations of xx. Markosian argues that regionalism follows from what he calls the subregion theory of parthood. Korman and Carmichael agree. We provide countermodels to show that regionalism does not follow from, even together with fourteen potentially implicit background principles. We then show that regionalism (...) does follow from five of those background principles together with and two additional principles connecting parthood and location, which we call and. While the additional principles are not uncontroversial, our conjecture is that many will find them attractive. We conclude by mentioning that fills a previously unnoticed gap in the formal theory of location presented in Parsons. (shrink)
In this thesis I argue against unrestricted mereological hybridism, the view that there are absolutely no constraints on wholes having parts from many different logical or ontological categories, an exemplar of which I take to be ‘mixed fusions’. These are composite entities which have parts from at least two different categories – the membered (as in classes) and the non-membered (as in individuals). As a result, mixed fusions can also be understood to represent a variety of cross-category summation such as (...) the abstract with the concrete, the physical with the non-physical, and the possible with the impossible, just to name a few. -/- Proposed by David Lewis (1991) alongside his defence of classical mereology (the major theory of parthood which permits such transcategorial composites through its principle of unrestricted composition) it is my contention that mixed fusions are an under-examined consequence of indiscriminate mereological fusion which harbour a multitude of complications. In my attempt to discern their substantive character, throughout this thesis I make a case study of mixed fusions and uncover several problematic consequences which I think follow from their most plausible assessment. -/- These include: (1) that mixed fusions’ probable membership relations may lead to dubious foundational loops in the mereological Universe, or (2) otherwise that mixed fusions oblige an implausible ontological priority of the mereological Universe as a whole; (3) that mixed fusions contradict the reductive account of set theory they are proposed within, by plausibly being seen to have the same members as their class parts, and (4) that mixed fusions therefore confound a mereological thesis of Composition as Identity, which some (including Lewis) use to support classical mereology – a consequence which is potentially self-defeating; (5) that mixed fusions as sums of abstract and concrete entities both subvert Lewis’s (1986) system of modal realism, while (6) also undermining less expansive theories of possible worlds; and finally, (7) that even where some of the foregoing is resisted, it remains implausible that mixed fusions are ontologically innocent, because their supposed distinction from their parts in this case ensures that they need to be counted as additional entities in one’s ontology. -/- To be clear, I do not advance a theory of mereological hybrid nihilism in the sense of denying all cases of transcategorial composition. (I only cover a few select instances of mereological hybridism via mixed fusions after all.) Rather, I deny that mereological hybridism is plausible in full generality, by demonstrating that any cases of it are at least limited by the constraints that I identify. This in turn vindicates a call for a restriction on parthood theories and composition principles which allow certain types of categorially mixed entities – including restricting classical mereology with its principle of unrestricted composition. -/- Although theories of parthood like the standard classical mereology are not ordinarily developed for the sake of mereological hybrids like mixed fusions, these and other transcategorial composites are still among the logical consequences of such parthood systems operating with sufficient generality. The significance of my thesis, then, comes from showcasing how some of these kinds of entities do not conform to the systems in which they are included as required, and hence I argue for the rejection of unrestricted mereological hybridism as well as any mereological principles which support it. (shrink)
A symposium on my *Objects: Nothing Out of the Ordinary* (2015). In response to Wallace, I attempt to clarify the dialectical and epistemic role that my arguments from counterexamples were meant to play, I provide a limited defense of the comparison to the Gettier examples, and I embrace the comparison to Moorean anti-skeptical arguments. In response to deRosset, I provide a clearer formulation of conservatism, explain how a conservative should think about the interaction between intuition and science, and discuss what (...) conservatives should say about scattered territories, clonal colonies, and arbitrary systems. In response to Tillman and Spencer, I fortify my original presentation of the debunking arguments by clarifying why, even while trees (if they exist) are paradigmatically causal, conservatives are meant to be rationally obstructed from believing that it is trees that are causing our tree beliefs. (shrink)
Mereological universalists, according to whom every plurality of entities has a fusion, usually claim that most quantifications are restricted to ordinary entities. However, there is no evidence that our usual quantifications over ordinary objects are restricted. In this article I explore an alternative way of reconciling Mereological Universalism with our usual quantifications. I resort to a modest form of ontological expansionism and to the so-called interpretational modalities. Quantifications over ordinary objects are the initial stages of the expansion. From these initial (...) stages, expansions can proceed upwards (fusions of entities in the domain of quantification are added), downwards (parts of entities in the domain are added), and sidewards (entities which are mereologically disjoint from the entities in the domain are added). These expansions are driven by a variety of epistemic and pragmatic reasons and raise different kinds of problems. At each stage, a modalized version of Mereological Universalism is true. By contrast, only at some especially rich stages, standard, non-modalized Mereological Universalism is true as well. Among these especially rich stages, there is a final, metaphysically pre-eminent stage of mereological plenitude. In the last part of the article I discuss some problems and limitations of expansionism. (shrink)
There has been a growing charge that perdurantism—with its bloated ontology of very person-like objects that coincide persons—implies the repugnant conclusion that we are morally obliged to be feckless. I argue that this charge critically overlooks the epistemic situation—what I call the ‘veil of ignorance’—that perdurantists find themselves in. Though the veil of ignorance still requires an alteration of our commonsense understanding of the demands on action, I argue for two conclusions. The first is that the alteration that is required (...) isn’t a moral one, but rather an alteration of prudential reasoning. Second, and more importantly, this alteration isn’t necessarily a repugnant one. In fact, given that it prudentially pushes one towards greater impartiality, it may be seen as a point in favor of perdurantism. (shrink)
U knjizi Pisanje knjige sveta (2011) Teodor Sajder tvrdi da na fundamentalnom nivou stvarnosti ne postoje objekti sastavljeni od delova, što njegovo gledište čini verzijom mereološkog nihilizma. Međutim, u prethodnoj knjizi pod naslovom Četvorodimenzionalizam (2001) Sajder zastupa mereološki univerzalizam, tezu da svaka klasa objekata ima mereološku fuziju, odnosno da postoji dodatni objekat koji sadrži date objekta kao svoje delove, koji igra suštinsku ulogu u njegovoj argumentu na osnovu nejasnosti u prilog perdurantizma, odnosno postojanja temporalnih delova materijalnih objekata. U ovom radu (...) pokušaću da odgovorim na pitanje da li Sajder može i dalje biti perdurantista uprkos njegovom najnovijem prihvatanju mereološkog nihilizma. (shrink)
The vagueness objection seems to block any moderate answer to the Special Composition Question leaving us with the two extreme alternatives that there either is no composite object or that any set of things compose an object. In this technical paper I introduce the notion of causal objects and a definition of a predicate that permits the set of all parts to be divided into equivalence classes. On this view we can use equivalence classes of parts to define the notion (...) of composite objects why vagueness is blocked. The block works in a hypothetical domain where all parts have a cause so the aim is not to suggest empirically detectable parts and composites, nor to claim any kind of existence of the things being defined, but to present a consistent account of a possible moderate answer to the Special Composition Question that avoids the vagueness objection. The underlying idea is that an object, as such, is not caused whereas its parts are. For example, if we have three caused parts A, B and C constituting the composite D, we have three things that are caused whereas the composite D has no cause over and above the three causes of A, B and C. (shrink)
We do not fully understand Hume’s account of space if we do not understand his view of determinations of extension, which is too much ignored a topic. In this paper, I argue for an interpretation that determinations of extension are unities in Hume’s view: single beings in addition to their components. This realist reading is reasonable on both textual and philosophical grounds. There is strong textual evidence for it and no textual reason to reject it. Realism makes perfect sense of (...) the metaphysics of determinations of extension along Humean lines and Hume’s view of spatial relations. (shrink)
Revisionary ontologies seem to go against our common sense convictions about which material objects exist. These views face the so-called Problem of Reasonableness: they have to explain why reasonable people don’t seem to accept the true ontology. Most approaches to this problem treat the mismatch between the ontological truth and ordinary belief as superficial or not even real. By contrast, I propose what I call the “uncompromising solution”. First, I argue that our beliefs about material objects were influenced by evolutionary (...) forces that were independent of the ontological truth. Second, I draw an analogy between the Problem of Reasonableness and the New Evil Demon Problem and argue that the revisionary ontologist can always find a positive epistemic status to characterize ordinary people’s beliefs about material objects. Finally, I address the worry that the evolutionary component of my story also threatens to undermine the best arguments for revisionary ontologies. (shrink)
Take any putative ordinary object which is divisible into a finite number of small units and tolerant to the loss of one of them. We can remove these units one at a time, and since our object definitely doesn’t exist when there are zero units, and since we cannot pinpoint which removal brings about this destruction, the Sorites Puzzle threatens common sense. We can rescue ordinary objects from its grip, but since independently motivated linguistic explanations of vagueness depend on there (...) being multiple candidate contents of vague terms, these efforts succeed only if there are multiple candidates that can be meant by ordinary object terms. Thus, many more objects than common sense accepts have to exist. The 'arguments from vagueness' also offer soritical reasons for object proliferation. Problematising the categories composite object and persisting thing (rather than specific object concepts), these show that either there are none of these (except simples) or every candidate for making up one, does. The latter, less revisionary alternative is plenitudinism. I defend Modally Full Plenitude, because it is three-dimensionalist and non-reductivist about de re modality – a distinct persisting object in any region, and for every modal profile satisfied by the matter in that region. (shrink)
Philosophers disagree whether composition as identity entails mereological universalism. Bricker :264–294, 2016) has recently considered an argument which concludes that composition as identity supports universalism. The key step in this argument is the thesis that any objects are identical to some object, which Bricker justifies with the principle of the universality of identity. I will spell out this principle in more detail and argue that it has an unexpected consequence. If the universality of identity holds, then composition as identity not (...) only leads us to universalism, but also leads to the view that there are no mereological atoms. (shrink)
The debate about the ontological innocence of mereology has generally been framed as a debate about the plausibility of Universal Fusion. Ontologically loaded fusions must be more than the sum of their parts, and this seems to violate parsimony if fusion is universal. Less attention has been paid to the question of what sort of emergence mereological fusions must exhibit if they are irreducible to their parts. The philosophy of science literature provides several models of such strong emergence. Examining those (...) models suggests that the difficulty with emergent fusions has at least as much to do with extensionality as it does with Universal Fusion. Some accounts of emergence fail to ensure irreducibility when combined with extensional mereologies. The most promising model for the strong emergence of ontologically loaded fusions fails to validate Anti-Symmetry, which naturally leads to failures of extensionality. These results suggest that the focus on Universal Fusion may have been misplaced. (shrink)
For Anaxagoras, both before the beginning of the world and in the present, “all is together” and “everything is in everything.” Various modern interpretations abound regarding the identity of this “mixture.” It has been explained as an aggregation of particles or as a continuous “fusion” of different sorts of ingredients. However—even though they are not usually recognized as a distinct group—there are a number of other scholars who, without seemingly knowing each other, have offered a different interpreta- tion: Anaxagoras’ mixture (...) as an “interpenetration” of different ingredients, which are as far-extended as the whole mixture is. As a result, there are different entities occupying the same place at the same time. This explanation assigns to Anaxagoras the same model of mixture which was later used by the Stoics. A new book by Marmodoro helps us to clarify this position. (shrink)
Zero and one is circumference and diameter (of an always-conserved circle) (an object-oriented singularity), demonstrating, and, therefore, proving, intelligent autonomy (the self) (self-referential recursion) in all disciplines.
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 (...) to a debate in which opponents frequently talk past one another. With the two views stated precisely, our investigation reveals the dependence of the mereologists’ ontological commitments on the semantics of plural quantifiers. Though we discuss the debate with respect to a simplified and idealized model, the insights provided will make more complex debates on composition more productive and deflationist criticisms of the debate less substantial. (shrink)
As I will use the term, an object is a mereological sum of some things just in case those things compose it simply in virtue of existing. In the first half of this paper, I argue that there are no sums. The key premise for this conclusion relies on a constraint on what, in certain cases, it takes for something to ground, or metaphysically explain, something else. In the second half, I argue that in light of my argument against sums, (...) Universalism, which is perhaps the most widely accepted answer to the Special Composition Question, is false. (shrink)
Which metaphysical theories are involved—whether presupposed or implied—in Marquis’ future-like-ours argument against abortion? Vogelstein has recently argued that the supporter of the FLO argument faces a problematic dilemma; in particular, Marquis, the main supporter of the argument, seems to have to either abandon diachronic universalism or acquiesce and declare that contraception is morally wrong. I argue that the premises of Marquis’ argument can be reasonably combined with a form of unrestricted composition and that the FLO argument is better viewed as (...) including animalism, i.e., the thesis that we are animals. (shrink)
The present volume is the first comprehensive reference work for research on part-whole relations. The Handbook of Mereology offers a wide scope, inclusive presentation of contemporary research on part-whole relations that draws out systematic, historical, and interdisciplinary trajectories, shows the subject’s fertility, and inspires future explorations. In particular, we want to impress that mereology is much more than the study of axiomatised systems. The relationship between part and whole is a basic schema of cognitive organisation that operates not only at (...) the level of language and propositional thought, but also at the level of sensory input processing, especially visual and auditory. In the natural, social, and human sciences, as well as in the Humanities, part-whole relations organize all three: data domains, methods, and theories. In short, part-whole relations play a fundamental role in how we perceive and interact with nature, how we speak and think about the world and ourselves, as societies and as individuals. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 28 This paper develops four proposals for explicating the notion of an ersatz part. It then evaluates each proposal with respect to a number of jobs for which ersatz parts are posited. We argue that each of the four notions of ersatz parthood do better with respect to some jobs, and worse with respect to others. Thus, we think, it’s horses for courses: which notion of ersatz part one chooses will be sensitive to which metaphysical project (...) one is pursuing. (shrink)
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.
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. (...) Although I am sympathetic to this objection, in this paper, I present two responses on behalf of the theorist. I also show that once the defender of accepts one of these two responses, that defender will be able to answer The Special Composition Question. (shrink)
(Mereological) nihilism states that there are no composite objects—there are only sub-atomic particles such as quarks. Nihilism’s biggest rival, (mereological) universalism, posits vast numbers of composite objects in addition to the sub-atomic particles, and so nihilism appears to be the more ontologically parsimonious of the two theories. If this is the case, it’s a significant result for the nihilist: ontological parsimony is almost always thought to be a theoretical virtue, so a nihilist victory in the parsimony stakes gives us a (...) defeasible reason to be nihilists. But things aren’t so straightforward. Karen Bennett (2009) has argued that nihilism is no more quantitatively parsimonious than universalism. Furthermore, her argument can be redirected so that it threatens the nihilist’s perceived advantage over universalism in the qualitative parsimony stakes too. I here argue that these arguments are flawed and that nihilism is indeed more quantitatively and qualitatively parsimonious than universalism. (shrink)
Some strange cases have gripped philosophers of mind. They have been deployed against materialism about human persons, functionalism about mentality, the possibility of artificial intelligence, and more. In this paper, I cry “foul”. It’s not hard to think that there’s something wrong with the cases. But what? My proposal: their proponents ignore questions about composition. And ignoring composition is a mistake. Indeed, materialists about human persons, functionalists about mentality, and believers in the possibility of artificial intelligence can plausibly deploy moderate (...) theories of composition in defense of their views. And as it turns out, these strange cases are an interesting source of evidence for moderate theories of composition. (shrink)
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.
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 (...) to identity are too weak to be interesting, lacking in metaphysical consequence. I defend a moderate version according to which composition is a kind of identity, and argue that the difference is metaphysically substantial, not merely terminological. I then consider whether the notion of generalized identity, though fundamental, can be elucidated in modal terms by reverse engineering Hume’s Dictum. Unfortunately, for realists about possible worlds, such as myself,... (shrink)
Does a commitment to mereological universalism automatically bring along a commitment to the controversial doctrine of mereological extensionalism—the view that objects with the same proper parts are identical? A recent argument suggests the answer is ‘yes’. This paper attempts a systematic response to the argument, considering nearly every available line of reply. It argues that only one approach—the mutual parts view—can yield a viable mereology where universalism does not entail extensionalism.
I reply to Hawthorne and Uzquiano’s arguments for the incompatibility between mereological universalism and plenitudinous co-location. I argue that a mereology in which antisymmetry for parthood fails is independently motivated, and allows for both universalism and plenitudinous co-location. There can be as many angels in a place as there are cardinalities.
The Problem of Overlappers is a puzzle about what makes it the case, and how we can know, that we have the parts we intuitively think we have. In this paper, I develop and motivate an overlooked solution to this puzzle. According to what I call the self-making view it is within our power to decide what we refer to with the personal pronoun ‘I’, so the truth of most of our beliefs about our parts is ensured by the very (...) mechanism of self-reference. Other than providing an elegant solution to the Problem of Overlappers, the view can be motivated on independent grounds. It also has wide-ranging consequences for how we should be thinking about persons. Among other things, it can help undermine an influential line of argument against the permissibility of elective amputation. After a detailed discussion and defence of the self-making view, I consider some objections to it. I conclude that none of these objections is persuasive and we should at the very least take seriously the idea that we are to some extent self-made. (shrink)
Don Marquis’s “future-like-ours” argument against the moral permissibility of abortion is widely considered the strongest anti-abortion argument in the philosophical literature. In this paper, I address the issue of whether the argument relies upon controversial metaphysical premises. It is widely thought that future-like-ours argument indeed relies upon controversial metaphysics, in that it must reject the psychological theory of personal identity. I argue that that thought is mistaken—the future-like-ours argument does not depend upon the rejection of such a theory. I suggest, (...) however, that given a widely-accepted view about contraception and abstinence, the argument is committed to contentious metaphysics after all, as it relies upon a highly controversial assumption about mereology. This commitment is not only relevant for those who are inclined to endorse the argument but reject the mereological view in question, but in addition entails dialectical and epistemological liabilities for the argument, which on some views will be fatal to the argument’s overall success. (shrink)
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)
A mereological structure is junky if and only if each of its elements is a proper part of some other. The young literature on junk has focused on junky worlds and whether they are counterexamples to unrestricted composition. The present note defends the possibility of junky structures that are not worlds. This possibility complicates a recent attempt in the literature to render junk consistent with a weakened form of unrestricted composition. The upshot is that junky non-worlds threaten the weakened form (...) of unrestricted composition as much as junky worlds threaten the traditional version. (shrink)
When do objects at different times compose a further object? This is the question of diachronic composition. The universalist answers, ‘under any conditions whatsoever’. Others argue for restrictions on diachronic composition: composition occurs only when certain conditions are met. Recently, some philosophers have argued that restrictions on diachronic compositions are motivated by our best physical theories. In Persistence and Spacetime and elsewhere, Yuri Balashov argues that diachronic compositions are restricted in terms of causal connections between object stages. In a recent (...) article, Nikk Effingham argues that the standard objections to views that endorse restrictions on composition do not apply to a view that restricts composition according to compliance with the laws of nature. On the face of it, such restrictions on diachronic composition preserve our common-sense ontology while eliminating from it scientifically revisionary objects that travel faster than the speed of light. I argue that these attempts to restrict diachronic composition by appealing to either causal or nomological constraints face insurmountable difficulties within the context of special relativity. I discuss how the universalist should best respond to Hudson’s argument for superluminal objects, and in doing so, I present and defend a new sufficient condition for motion that does not entail that such objects are in superluminal motion. 1 Introduction2 Diachronic Composition3 Diachronic Composition and Superluminal Objects4 Restricting Diachronic Composition5 Causal and Nomological Restrictions on Composition in a Relativistic Context6 Superluminal Objects and Motion7 Conclusion. (shrink)
Aristotle introduced in the history of the reception of Anaxagoras the term “homoiomerous”. This word refers to substances whose parts are similar to each other and to the whole. Although Aristotle’s explanations can be puzzling, the term “homoiomerous” may explain an authentic aspect of Anaxagoras’ doctrine reflected in the fragments of his work. Perhaps one should find a specific meaning for the term “homoiomerous” in Anaxagoras, somewhat different from the one present in Aristotle. This requires a review of the sense (...) of the two terms involved in it: “homoios” and “moira”. In other words, the following questions should be answered: what realities are named parts and to what whole do they belong? On the other hand, which similarity do they have to each another and to the whole? The author concludes that the parts are “all things”, which resemble each other and the universe as a whole because, according to Anaxagoras, they are all composed of all things. (shrink)