Parts as counterparts

Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 2 (3):228-241 (2013)
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Mereological nihilists are faced with a difficult challenge: explaining ordinary talk about material objects. Popular paraphrase strategies involve plurals, arrangements of particles, or fictions. In this paper, a new paraphrase strategy is put forward that has distinct advantages over its rivals: it is compatible with gunk and emergent properties of macro-objects. The only assumption is a commitment to a liberal view of the nature of simples; the nihilist must be willing to accept the possibility of heterogeneous extended simples. The author suggests reinterpreting the parthood and composition relations as modal. According to this paraphrase, composition is a kind of counterpart relation. The author shows that one can accept that mereological nihilism is metaphysically necessary, while endorsing all the claims of classical mereology. As a result, the nihilists are in exactly the same position as the classical mereologist when it comes to explaining talk about ordinary objects, but without the additional ontology.



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Author's Profile

A. J. Cotnoir
University of St. Andrews

Citations of this work

Ordinary objects.Daniel Z. Korman - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Emergence for Nihilists.Richard L. J. Caves - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (1):2-28.
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Two Geometrical Models for Pixelism.Fabio Patrone - 2020 - Metaphysica (1):99-113.
What is an Ersatz Part?Kristie Miller & Johann Hariman - 2017 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 94 (4):524-551.

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References found in this work

Material Beings.Peter Van Inwagen - 1990 - Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.
Objects and Persons.Trenton Merricks - 2001 - New York: Oxford University Press.
All the World’s a Stage.Theodore Sider - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (3):433 – 453.
From nihilism to monism.Jonathan Schaffer - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):175 – 191.
The Doctrine Of Arbitrary Undetached Parts.Peter Van Inwagen - 1981 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 62 (2):123-137.

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