Sameness without identity: An aristotelian solution to the problem of material constitution

Ratio 11 (3):316–328 (1998)
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Abstract

In this paper, I present an Aristotelian solution to the problem of material constitution. The problem of material constitution arises whenever it appears that an object a and an object b share all of the same parts and yet are essentially related to their parts in different ways. (A familiar example: A lump of bronze constitutes a statue of Athena. The lump and the statue share all of the same parts, but it appears that the lump can, whereas the statue cannot, survive radical rearrangements of those parts.) I argue that if we are prepared to follow Aristotle in making a distinction between numerical sameness and identity, we can solve the problem of material constitution without recourse to co-location or contingent identity and without repudiating any of the familiar objects of common sense (such as lumps and statues) or denying that these objects have the essential properties we ordinarily think that they have.

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Michael Rea
University of Notre Dame

Citations of this work

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