The ontological parsimony of mereology

Philosophical Studies 172 (12):3253-3271 (2015)
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Abstract

Lewis famously argued that mereology is ontologically innocent. Many who have considered this claim believe he was mistaken. Mereology is not innocent, because its acceptance entails the acceptance of sums, new objects that were not previously part of one’s ontology. This argument, the argument from ontological parsimony, has two versions: a qualitative and a quantitative one. I argue that the defender of mereology can neutralize both arguments by holding that, given mereology, a commitment to the parts of an object is not an extra ontological commitment, made in addition to the commitment to the object; and that if the parts of an object are ‘ontologically innocent’, then sums cannot fail to be innocent either

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Jeroen Smid
University of Amsterdam

Citations of this work

Mereology.Achille C. Varzi - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Mereological Nihilism and Theoretical Unification.Andrew Brenner - 2015 - Analytic Philosophy 56 (4):318-337.
‘Identity’ as a mereological term.Jeroen Smid - 2017 - Synthese 194 (7):2367-2385.

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A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - Cambridge University Press.
Parts: A Study in Ontology.Peter Simons - 1987 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Monism: The Priority of the Whole.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (1):31-76.
A World of States of Affairs.D. Armstrong - 1993 - Philosophical Perspectives 7:429-440.

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