Mereological Singularism and Paradox

Erkenntnis:1-20 (2021)
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The primary argument against mereological singularism—the view that definite plural noun phrases like ‘the students’ refer to “set-like entities”—is that it is ultimately incoherent. The most forceful form of this charge is due to Barry Schein, who argues that singularists must accept a certain comprehension principle which entails the existence of things having the contradictory property of being both atomic and non-atomic. The purpose of this paper is to defuse Schein’s argument, by noting three necessary and independently motivated restrictions on the metalinguistic predicates ‘atom’ and ‘non-atom’: both are sort, property, and context-relative. With these restrictions in place, Schein’s problematic assumption becomes evident: his presumed singularist analysis of ‘non-atom’ conflates the metalanguage with the meta-metalanguage, i.e. the language used to talk about the metalanguage.



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Author Profiles

Eric Snyder
Ashoka University
Stewart Shapiro
Ohio State University

Citations of this work

Group nouns and pseudo‐singularity.Eric Snyder & Stewart Shapiro - 2021 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 10 (1):66-77.
Groups, sets, and paradox.Eric Snyder & Stewart Shapiro - 2022 - Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (6):1277-1313.

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References found in this work

Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy.Bertrand Russell - 1919 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 89:465-466.

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