On the explanatory demands of the Special Composition Question

Synthese:1-14 (forthcoming)

Authors
Joshua Spencer
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Abstract
The Special Composition Question may be formulated as follows: for any xs whatsoever, what are the metaphysically necessary and jointly sufficient conditions in virtue of which there is a y such that those xs compose y? But what is the scope of the sought after explanation? Should an answer merely explain compositional facts, or should it explain certain ontological facts as well? On one natural reading, the question seeks an explanation of both the compositional facts and the ontological; the question seeks to explain how composite objects exist; how there is a y such that the xs compose y. But it turns out that some answers to the Special Composition Question presuppose those ontological facts rather than explain those ontological facts. In this paper, I will indicate what I take to be the different explanatory demands met by the representative answers. I will argue that the wide scope explanatory demands can’t be satisfied. I will also show that this result has bearing on the current debate about composition.
Keywords Special Composition Question  van Inwagen  Explanation  Composition  Regionalism  Life  Ontological Fact  Compositional Fact
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-019-02147-3
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References found in this work BETA

Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-36.
Grounding: Necessary or Contingent?Kelly Trogdon - 2013 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (4):465-485.
Material Beings.Peter VAN INWAGEN - 1990 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (3):701-708.

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