Mereological Nihilism and Theoretical Unification

Analytic Philosophy 56 (4):318-337 (2015)
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Abstract

Mereological nihilism (henceforth just "nihilism") is the thesis that composition never occurs. Nihilism has often been defended on the basis of its theoretical simplicity, including its ontological simplicity and its ideological simplicity (roughly, nihilism's ability to do without primitive mereological predicates). In this paper I defend nihilism on the basis of the theoretical unification conferred by nihilism, which is, roughly, nihilism's capacity to allow us to take fewer phenomena as brute and inexplicable. This represents a respect in which nihilism enjoys greater theoretical simplicity than its rivals which has not yet been explored, and which is immune to many of the objections which have been leveled against previous arguments for nihilism from nihilism's theoretical simplicity. Composition as identity might be thought to confer a similar degree of theoretical unification as nihilism. I end the paper by arguing that this is not the case.

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Andrew Brenner
Hong Kong Baptist University

Citations of this work

Simplicity as a Criterion of Theory Choice in Metaphysics.Andrew Brenner - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2687-2707.
Ordinary Objects.Daniel Z. Korman - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Mereological Nihilism and Puzzles About Material Objects.Bradley Rettler - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (4):842-868.
Mereology and Ideology.Andrew Brenner - 2020 - Synthese 198 (8):7431-7448.
Why Composition Matters.Andrew M. Bailey & Andrew Brenner - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (8):934-949.

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References found in this work

Physicalism, or Something Near Enough.Jaegwon Kim - 2005 - Princeton University Press.
Monism: The Priority of the Whole.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (1):31-76.
Parts: A Study in Ontology.Peter Simons - 1987 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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