Almost identical, almost innocent

Philosophy (forthcoming)
Authors
Katherine Hawley
University of St. Andrews
Abstract
In his 1991 book, Parts of Classes, David Lewis discusses the idea that composition is identity, alongside the idea that mereological overlap is a form of partial identity. But this notion of partial identity does nothing to help Lewis achieve his goals in that book. So why does he mention it? I explore and resolve this puzzle, by comparing Parts of Classes with Lewis’s invocation of partial identity in his 1993 paper ‘Many But Almost One’, where he uses it to address Unger’s problem of the many. I raise some concerns about this way of thinking of partial identity, but conclude that, for Lewis, it is an important defence against accusations of ontological profligacy.
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