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A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person

Cornell University Press (2018)

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  1. Priority Perdurantism.Jeremy W. Skrzypek - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-26.
    In this paper, I introduce a version of perdurantism called Priority Perdurantism, according to which perduring, four-dimensional objects are ontologically fundamental and the temporal parts of those objects are ontologically derivative, depending for their existence and their identity on the four-dimensional wholes of which they are parts. I argue that by switching the order of the priority relations this opens up new solutions to the too-many-thinkers problem and the personite problem – solutions that are more ontologically robust than standard maximality (...)
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  • Fusion First.Shieva Kleinschmidt - 2019 - Noûs 53 (3):689-707.
    Logics of part/whole relations frequently take parthood or proper parthood as primitive, defining the remaining mereological properties and relations in terms of them. I argue from considerations involving Weak Supplementation for the conclusion that we should take fusion as our mereological primitive. I point out that the intuitions supporting Weak Supplementation also support a stronger principle, Weak Supplementation of Pluralities, and that the principle can only do the work demanded by our intuitions when formulated in terms of a notion of (...)
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  • What If We Contain Multiple Morally Relevant Subjects?Dustin Crummett - forthcoming - Utilitas:1-18.
    First, I introduce the concept of a “non-agential subject,” where a non-agential subject exists within an organism and has phenomenally conscious experiences in a morally significant way, but is not morally responsible for the organism's voluntary actions. Second, I argue that it's a live possibility that typical adult humans contain non-agential subjects. Finally, I argue that, if there are non-agential subjects, this has important and surprising implications for a variety of ethical issues. Accordingly, ethicists should pay more attention to whether (...)
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  • Multilocation and Parsimony.Justin Mooney - 2018 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 7 (3):153-160.
    One objection to the thesis that multilocation is possible claims that, when combined with a preference for parsimonious theories, it leads to the absurd result that we ought to believe the material universe is composed of just one simple particle. I argue that this objection fails.
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  • Homunculi Are People Too! Lewis's Definition of Personhood Debugged.Cody Gilmore - 2017 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 6 (1):54-60.
    David Lewis defends the following "non-circular definition of personhood": "something is a continuant person if and only if it is a maximal R-interrelated aggregate of person-stages. That is: if and only if it is an aggregate of person-stages, each of which is R-related to all the rest (and to itself), and it is a proper part of no other such aggregate." I give a counterexample, involving a person who is a part of another, much larger person, with a separate mental (...)
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  • Unextended Complexes.Martin Pickup - 2016 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (3):257-264.
    Extended simples are fruitfully discussed in metaphysics. They are entities which are located in a complex region of space but do not themselves have parts. In this paper, I will discuss unextended complexes: entities which are not located at a complex region of space but do themselves have parts. In particular, I focus on one type of unextended complex: pointy complexes. Four areas are indicated where pointy complexes might prove philosophically useful. Unextended complexes are therefore philosophically fruitful, in much the (...)
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  • Naming the Stages.Achille C. Varzi - 2003 - Dialectica 57 (4):387–412.
    Standard lore has it that a proper name is a temporally rigid designator. It picks out the same entity at every time at which it picks out an entity at all. If the entity in question is an enduring continuant then we know what this means, though we are also stuck with a host of metaphysical puzzles concerning endurance itself. If the entity in question is a perdurant then the rigidity claim is trivial, though one is left wondering how it (...)
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  • No Hope in the Dark: Problems for Four-Dimensionalism.Jonathan J. Loose - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 11 (3):31-47.
    Whether or not it is coherent to place hope in a future life beyond the grave has become a central question in the larger debate about whether a materialist view of human persons can accommodate Christian belief. Hud Hudson defends a four-dimensional account of resurrection in order to avoid persistent difficulties experienced by three-dimensionalist animalism. I present two difficulties unique to Hudson’s view. The first problem of counterpart hope is a manifestation of a general weakness of four-dimensional views to accommodate (...)
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  • Enduring Through Gunk.Matt Leonard - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (4):753-771.
    According to one of the more popular endurantist packages on the market, a package I will call multilocational endurantism, enduring objects are exactly located at multiple instantaneous regions of spacetime. However, for all we know, the world might turn out to be spatiotemporally gunky and spatiotemporal gunk entails that this package is false. The goal of this paper is to sketch a view which retains the spirit of multilocational endurantism while also recognizing the possibility of certain types of objects which (...)
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  • Building Enduring Objects Out of Spacetime.Cody Gilmore - 2014 - In Claudio Calosi & Pierluigi Graziani (eds.), Mereology and the Sciences: Parts and Wholes in the Contemporary Scientific Context. Springer. pp. 5-34.
    Endurantism, the view that material objects are wholly present at each moment of their careers, is under threat from supersubstantivalism, the view that material objects are identical to spacetime regions. I discuss three compromise positions. They are alike in that they all take material objects to be composed of spacetime points or regions without being identical to any such point or region. They differ in whether they permit multilocation and in whether they generate cases of mereologically coincident entities.
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  • Why Parthood Might Be a Four Place Relation, and How It Behaves If It Is.Cody Gilmore - 2009 - In Ludger Honnefelder, Benedikt Schick & Edmund Runggaldier (eds.), Unity and Time in Metaphysics. de Gruyter. pp. 83--133.
  • Location and Mereology.Cody Gilmore - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • An Elegant Universe.Claudio Calosi - 2017 - Synthese:1-16.
    David Lewis famously endorsed Unrestricted Composition. His defense of such a controversial principle builds on the alleged innocence of mereology. This innocence defense has come under different attacks in the last decades. In this paper I pursue another line of defense, that stems from some early remarks by van Inwagen. I argue that Unrestricted Composition leads to a better metaphysics. In particular I provide new arguments for the following claims: Unrestricted Composition entails extensionality of composition, functionality of location and four-dimensionalism (...)
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  • What Matters in Survival: Self-Determination and The Continuity of Life Trajectories.Heidi Savage - manuscript
    In this paper, I argue that standard psychological continuity theory does not account for an important feature of what is important in survival – having the property of personhood. I offer a theory that can account for this, and I explain how it avoids the implausible consequences of standard psychological continuity theory, as well as having certain other advantages over that theory.
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  • Responding to N.T. Wright's Rejection of the Soul.Brandon L. Rickabaugh - 2018 - Heythrop Journal 59 (2):201-220.
    At a 2011 meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers, N. T. Wright offered four reasons for rejecting the existence of soul. This was surprising, as many Christian philosophers had previously taken Wright's defense of a disembodied intermediate state as a defense of a substance dualist view of the soul. In this paper, I offer responses to each of Wright's objections, demonstrating that Wright's arguments fail to undermine substance dualism. In so doing, I expose how popular arguments against dualism fail, (...)
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  • An elegant universe.Claudio Calosi - 2020 - Synthese 197 (11):4767-4782.
    David Lewis famously endorsed Unrestricted Composition. His defense of such a controversial principle builds on the alleged innocence of mereology. This innocence defense has come under different attacks in the last decades. In this paper I pursue another line of defense, that stems from some early remarks by van Inwagen. I argue that Unrestricted Composition leads to a better metaphysics. In particular I provide new arguments for the following claims: Unrestricted Composition entails extensionality of composition, functionality of location and four-dimensionalism (...)
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  • The Challenge of Many Logics: A New Approach to Evaluating the Role of Ideology in Quinean Commitment.Jody Azzouni - 2019 - Synthese 196 (7):2599-2619.
    Can Quine’s criterion for ontological commitment be comparatively applied across different logics? If so, how? Cross-logical evaluations of discourses are central to contemporary philosophy of mathematics and metaphysics. The focus here is on the influential and important arguments of George Boolos and David Lewis that second-order logic and plural quantification don’t incur additional ontological commitments over and above those incurred by first-order quantifiers. These arguments are challenged by the exhibition of a technical tool—the truncation-model construction of notational equivalents—that compares the (...)
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  • Three-Dimensionalist’s Semantic Solution to Diachronic Vagueness.Irem Kurtsal Steen - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (1):79-96.
    A standard response to the problem of diachronic vagueness is ‘the semantic solution’, which demands an abundant ontology. Although it is known that the abundant ontology does not logically preclude endurantism, their combination is rejected because it necessitates massive coincidence between countless objects. In this paper, I establish that the semantic solution is available not only to perdurantists but also to endurantists by showing that there is no problem with such ubiquitous and principled coincidence.
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  • The Problem of the Many.Brian Weatherson - 2014 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2016.
    As anyone who has flown out of a cloud knows, the boundaries of a cloud are a lot less sharp up close than they can appear on the ground. Even when it seems clearly true that there is one, sharply bounded, cloud up there, really there are thousands of water droplets that are neither determinately part of the cloud, nor determinately outside it. Consider any object that consists of the core of the cloud, plus an arbitrary selection of these droplets. (...)
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  • 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.
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  • Monism.Jonathan Schaffer - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This entry focuses on two of the more historically important monisms: existence monism and priority monism . Existence monism targets concrete objects and counts by tokens. This is the doctrine that exactly one concrete object exists. Priority monism also targets concrete objects, but counts by basic tokens. This is the doctrine that exactly one concrete object is basic, which will turn out to be the classical doctrine that the whole is prior to its parts.
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  • Ordinary Objects.Daniel Z. Korman - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    An encyclopedia entry which covers various revisionary conceptions of which macroscopic objects there are, and the puzzles and arguments that motivate these conceptions: sorites arguments, the argument from vagueness, the puzzles of material constitution, arguments against indeterminate identity, arguments from arbitrariness, debunking arguments, the overdetermination argument, and the problem of the many.
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  • Animalism.Stephan Blatti - 2014 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Among the questions to be raised under the heading of “personal identity” are these: “What are we?” (fundamental nature question) and “Under what conditions do we persist through time?” (persistence question). Against the dominant neo-Lockean approach to these questions, the view known as animalism answers that each of us is an organism of the species Homo sapiens and that the conditions of our persistence are those of animals. Beyond describing the content and historical background of animalism and its rivals, this (...)
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  • The Multi-location Trilemma.Damiano Costa & Claudio Calosi - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (3):1063-1079.
    The possibility of multi-location—of one entity having more than one exact location—is required by several metaphysical theories such as the immanentist theory of universals and three-dimensionalism about persistence. One of the most pressing challenges for multi-location theorists is that of making sense of exact location—in that extant definitions of exact location entail a principle called ‘functionality’, according to which nothing can have more than one exact location. Recently in a number of promising papers, Antony Eagle has proposed and defended a (...)
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  • Modal Mereology and Modal Supervenience.Sean Drysdale Walsh - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 159 (1):1-20.
    David Lewis insists that restrictivist composition must be motivated by and occur due to some intuitive desiderata for a relation R among parts that compose wholes, and insists that a restrictivist’s relation R must be vague. Peter van Inwagen agrees. In this paper, I argue that restrictivists need not use such examples of relation R as a criterion for composition, and any restrictivist should reject a number of related mereological theses. This paper critiques Lewis and van Inwagen (and others) on (...)
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  • Many as One.Thomas Sattig - 2010 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 5:145-178.
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  • Strange Kinds, Familiar Kinds, and the Charge of Arbitrariness.Daniel Z. Korman - 2010 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics:119-144.
    Particularists in material-object metaphysics hold that our intuitive judgments about which kinds of things there are and are not are largely correct. One common argument against particularism is the argument from arbitrariness, which turns on the claim that there is no ontologically significant difference between certain of the familiar kinds that we intuitively judge to exist (snowballs, islands, statues, solar systems) and certain of the strange kinds that we intuitively judge not to exist (snowdiscalls, incars, gollyswoggles, the fusion of the (...)
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  • Johnston Versus Johnston.Kacper Kowalczyk - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-19.
    Personites are like continuant people but shorter-lived. Johnston argues that personites do not exist since otherwise personites would have the same moral status as persons, which is untenable. I argue that Johnston’s arguments fail. To do that I propose an alternative way to understand intrinsicness and I clarify the meaning of reductionism about persons. I also argue that a plausible ethical theory is possible even if personites have the same moral status as persons. My arguments draw on Johnston’s earlier debate (...)
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  • Structure and Transition: Towards an Accretivist Theory of Time.David Preston Taylor - unknown
    This dissertation is a defense of a particular theory of the metaphysics of time which I call "accretivism", but which is popularly known in a form usually called the "Growing Block Theory". The goal of a metaphysics of time is to incorporate the various aspects of our temporal experience into a single, comprehensive whole. To this end I delineate five aspects of our ordinary experience of time: 1) The Tensed Aspect, in virtue of which objects are presented to us as (...)
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  • Why Psychological Accounts of Personal Identity Can Accept a Brain Death Criterion and Biological Definition of Death.David B. Hershenov - 2019 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (5):403-418.
    Psychological accounts of personal identity claim that the human person is not identical to the human animal. Advocates of such accounts maintain that the definition and criterion of death for a human person should differ from the definition and criterion of death for a human animal. My contention is instead that psychological accounts of personal identity should have human persons dying deaths that are defined biologically, just like the deaths of human animals. Moreover, if brain death is the correct criterion (...)
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  • Personal Identity and the Possibility of Autonomy.David B. Hershenov & Adam P. Taylor - 2017 - Dialectica 71 (2):155-179.
    We argue that animalism is the only materialist account of personal identity that can account for the autonomy that we typically think of ourselves as possessing. All the rival materialist theories suffer from a moral version of the problem of too many thinkers when they posit a human person that overlaps a numerically distinct human animal. The different persistence conditions of overlapping thinkers will lead them to have interests that conflict, which in many cases prevents them both from autonomously forming (...)
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  • Is There a Conservative Solution to the Many Thinkers Problem?David Mark Kovacs - 2010 - Ratio 23 (3):275-290.
    On a widely shared assumption, our mental states supervene on our microphysical properties – that is, microphysical supervenience is true. When this thesis is combined with the apparent truism that human persons have proper parts, a grave difficulty arises: what prevents some of these proper parts from being themselves thinkers as well? How can I know that I am a human person and not a smaller thinker enclosed in a human person? Most solutions to this puzzle make radical, if not (...)
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  • Thinking Animals or Thinking Brains?David Hershenov - 2021 - Acta Analytica 36 (1):11-24.
    Animalism offers a more attractive account of the human person than the Embodied Mind Account. If people are not animals, but small proper parts of animals, then there is a threat of spatially coincident thinkers. This will likely have to be avoided at the cost of the sparsest of ontologies, one in which there are no larger entities that can become reduced to the size of the brain or cerebrum-size thinker. This will be a rather implausible ontology as such thinkers (...)
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  • The Metaphysical Basis of a Liberal Organ Procurement Policy.David B. Hershenov & James J. Delaney - 2010 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (4):303-315.
    There remains a need to properly analyze the metaphysical assumptions underlying two organ procurement policies: presumed consent and organ sales. Our contention is that if one correctly understands the metaphysics of both the human body and material property, then it will turn out that while organ sales are illiberal, presumed consent is not. What we mean by illiberal includes violating rights of bodily integrity, property, or autonomy, as well as arguing for or against a policy in a manner that runs (...)
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  • Self-Made People.David Mark Kovacs - 2016 - Mind 125 (500):1071-1099.
    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 (...)
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  • Emergence for Nihilists.Richard L. J. Caves - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (1):2-28.
    I defend mereological nihilism, the view that there are no composite objects, against a challenge from ontological emergence, the view that some things have properties that are ‘something over and above’ the properties of their parts. As the nihilist does not believe in composite wholes, there is nothing in the nihilist's ontology to instantiate emergent properties – or so the challenge goes. However, I argue that some simples can collectively instantiate an emergent property, so the nihilist's ontology can in fact (...)
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  • The Vagueness Argument for Mereological Universalism.Donald Smith - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (3):357–368.
    In this paper, I critically discuss one of the more influential arguments for mereological universalism, what I will call ‘the Vagueness Argument’. I argue that a premise of the Vagueness Argument is not well supported and that there are at least two good reasons for thinking that the premise in question is false.
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  • Perdure and Murder.David B. Hershenov - unknown
    The rich resources of the Four-Dimensional metaphysics have been brought to bear upon many traditional philosophical problems in recent years. Alas, the implications of Four-Dimensionalism for bioethics have gone largely unexplored. Hud Hudson is the rare exception. Relying upon a Four- Dimensional metaphysics of temporal parts and a belief in unrestricted composition, he argues that there is little reason to identify the perduring human embryonic animal and the perduring human person. He makes the intriguing claim that if abortion is wrong, (...)
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  • Double-Counting and the Problem of the Many.David Liebesman - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (1):209-234.
    There is a defeasible constraint against double counting. When I count colours, for instance, I can’t freely count both a colour and its shades. Once we properly grasp this constraint, we can solve the problem of the many. Unlike other solutions, this solution requires us to reject neither our counting judgments, nor the metaphysical principles that seemingly conflict with them. The key is recognizing that the judgments and principles are compatible due to the targeted effects of the defeasible constraint.
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  • We Do Not Count by Identity.David Liebesman - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (1):21-42.
    It is widely assumed in psychology, philosophy, and linguistics that we count by identity. For example, to count the dogs by identity, we correlate each dog that isn't identical to the rest with a natural number, starting with one and assigning each successive dog the successive natural number. When we run out of distinct dogs, we've yielded a correct count. I argue that this model of counting is incorrect. We do not count by identity.
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  • Eliminativism and the Challenge From Folk Belief.Daniel Z. Korman - 2009 - Noûs 43 (2):242-264.
    Virtually everyone agrees that, even after having presented the arguments for their positions, proponents of revisionary philosophical theories are required to provide some sort of account of the conflict between their theories and what the folk believe. I examine various strategies for answering the challenge from folk belief. The examination proceeds as a case study, whose focus is eliminativism about ordinary material objects. I critically assess eliminativist attempts to explain folk belief by appeal to paraphrase, experience, and intuition.
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  • The Hard Problem of the Many.Jonathan A. Simon - 2017 - Philosophical Perspectives 31 (1):449-468.
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  • ‘How Do Things Persist.Thomas Pashby - 2016 - Dialectica 70 (3):269-309.
    This paper investigates the use of theories of mechanics to provide answers to questions in the metaphysics of spatial location and persistence. Investigating spatial location, I find that in classical physics bodies pertend the region of space at which they are exactly located, while a quantum system spans a region at which it is exactly located. Following this analysis, I present a ‘no-go’ result which shows that quantum mechanics restricts the available options for locational persistence theories in an interesting way: (...)
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  • Mereological Nihilism and Puzzles About Material Objects.Bradley Rettler - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (4):842-868.
    Mereological nihilism is the view that no objects have proper parts. Despite how counter‐intuitive it is, it is taken quite seriously, largely because it solves a number of puzzles in the metaphysics of material objects – or so its proponents claim. In this article, I show that for every puzzle that mereological nihilism solves, there is a similar puzzle that (a) it doesn’t solve, and (b) every other solution to the original puzzle does solve. Since the solutions to the new (...)
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  • Part‐Intrinsicality.J. Robert G. Williams - 2013 - Noûs 47 (3):431-452.
    In some sense, survival seems to be an intrinsic matter. Whether or not you survive some event seems to depend on what goes on with you yourself —what happens in the environment shouldn’t make a difference. Likewise, being a person at a time seems intrinsic. The principle that survival seems intrinsic is one factor which makes personal fission puzzles so awkward. Fission scenarios present cases where if survival is an intrinsic matter, it appears that an individual could survive twice over. (...)
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  • The Argument From Vagueness.Daniel Z. Korman - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (10):891-901.
    A presentation of the Lewis-Sider argument from vagueness for unrestricted composition and possible responses.
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  • Parthood.Theodore Sider - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (1):51-91.
    There will be a few themes. One to get us going: expansion versus contraction. About an object, o, and the region, R, of space(time) in which o is exactly located,1 we may ask: i) must there exist expansions of o: objects in filled superregions2 of R? ii) must there exist contractions of o: objects in filled subregions of..
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  • A New Taxonomy of Persisting (Relativistic) Objects.Claudio Calosi & Vincenzo Fano - 2015 - Topoi 34 (1):283-294.
    The paper presents a thorough exploration of the problem of persistence in a relativistic context. Using formal methods such as mereology, formal theories of location and the so called intrinsic formulation of special relativity we provide a new, more rigorous and more comprehensive taxonomy of persisting entities. This new taxonomy differs significantly from the ones that are present in the recent literature.
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  • Extensionality, Multilocation, Persistence.Claudio Calosi - 2014 - Dialectica 68 (1):121-139.
    The paper addresses various questions about the logical and metaphysical relations between notions of parthood, location and persistence. In particular it argues that the conjunction of mereological extensionalism and multilocation, is highly problematic, if not utterly inconsistent. It thus provides an alternate route to reject multilocation, one that does not rely on Barker and Dowe's well known argument, at least for those who endorse extensionality of parthood. It then argues that other major metaphysical theses such as three-dimensionalism turn out to (...)
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  • Multilocation and Mereology.Shieva Kleinschmidt - 2011 - Philosophical Perspectives 25 (1):253-276.
    Multilocation and Minimal Mereology do not mix well. It has been pointed out that Three-Dimensionalism, which can be construed as multilocation-friendly, runs into trouble with Weak Supplementation. But in fact, regardless of one’s theory of persistence, if someone posits the possibility of any one of several kinds of multilocation, he or she will not be able to maintain the necessity of any of the three axioms of Minimal Mereology: the Transitivity of Proper Parthood, the Asymmetry of Proper Parthood, and Weak (...)
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