A Spatial Approach to Mereology

In Shieva Kleinschmidt (ed.), Mereology and Location. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2014)
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When do several objects compose a further object? The last twenty years have seen a great deal of discussion of this question. According to the most popular view on the market, there is a physical object composed of your brain and Jeremy Bentham’s body. According to the second-most popular view on the market, there are no such objects as human brains or human bodies, and there are also no atoms, rocks, tables, or stars. And according to the third-ranked view, there are human bodies, but still no brains, atoms, rocks, tables, or stars. Although it’s pleasant to have so many crazy-sounding views around, I think it would also be nice to have a commonsense option available. The aim of this paper is to offer such an option. The approach I offer begins by considering a mereological question other than the standard one that has been the focus of most discussions in the literature. I try to show that the road to mereological sanity begins with giving the most straightforward and commonsensical answer to this other question, and then extending that answer to further questions about the mereology of physical objects. On the approach I am recommending, it turns out that all of the mereological properties and relations of physical objects are determined by their spatial properties and relations.



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Ned Markosian
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Citations of this work

Ordinary objects.Daniel Z. Korman - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Location and Mereology.Cody Gilmore, Claudio Calosi & Damiano Costa - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Toward a Commonsense Answer to the Special Composition Question.Chad Carmichael - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (3):475-490.

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Unity of Science as a Working Hypothesis.Paul Oppenheim & Hilary Putnam - 1958 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 2:3-36.
Brutal Composition.Ned Markosian - 1998 - Philosophical Studies 92 (3):211 - 249.
What we disagree about when we disagree about ontology.Cian Dorr - 2005 - In Mark Eli Kalderon (ed.), Fictionalism in Metaphysics. New York: Oxford University Press UK. pp. 234--86.
There are no ordinary things.Peter Unger - 1979 - Synthese 41 (2):117 - 154.

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