Science and the special composition question

Synthese 195 (2):657-678 (2018)
Authors
Andrew Brenner
University of Gothenburg
Abstract
Mereological nihilism is the thesis that composition never occurs. Some philosophers have thought that science gives us compelling evidence against nihilism. In this article I respond to this concern. An initial challenge for nihilism stems from the fact that composition is such a ubiquitous feature of scientific theories. In response I motivate a restricted form of scientific anti-realism with respect to those components of scientific theories which make reference to composition. A second scientifically based worry for nihilism is that certain specific scientific phenomena might require ineliminable quantification over composite objects. I address these concerns, and argue that there seem to be nihilist-friendly construals of the scientific phenomena in question.
Keywords Composition  Special composition question  Mereological nihilism  Compositional nihilism  Quantum entanglement  Natural selection
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1234-6
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References found in this work BETA

Monism: The Priority of the Whole.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (1):31-76.
Against Parthood.Theodore Sider - 2013 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 8:237–293.
The Philosophy of Philosophy.Timothy Williamson - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 145 (3):455-464.
How to Have a Radically Minimal Ontology.Ross P. Cameron - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (2):249 - 264.
From Nihilism to Monism.Jonathan Schaffer - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):175 – 191.

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Citations of this work BETA

Mereological Nihilism and Personal Ontology.Andrew Brenner - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268).

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