I discuss a general limitative consequence of the unrestricted mereological composition thesis. The unrestrictedcomposition thesis, which is roughly the assertion that every plurality of objects possesses a fusion or sum, is shown to be in conflict with general existence-conditions for certain categories of mereologically non-composite objects. The conclusion is that the unrestrictedcomposition thesis, which is a maximizing principle about what aggregates exist, places sharp limits on what unaggregated items can exist.
Many of those who accept the universalist thesis that mereological composition is unrestricted also maintain that the folk typically restrict their quantifiers in such a way as to exclude strange fusions when they say things that appear to conflict with universalism. Despite its prima facie implausibility, there are powerful arguments for universalism. By contrast, there is remarkably little evidence for the thesis that strange fusions are excluded from the ordinary domain of quantification. Furthermore, this reconciliatory strategy seems hopeless (...) when applied to the more fundamental conflict between universalism and the intuitions that tell against it. (shrink)
Many metaphysicians accept the view that, necessarily, any collection of things composes some further thing. Necessarily, my arms, legs, head, and torso compose my body; necessarily, my arms, my heart, and the table compose something y; necessarily, my heart and the sun compose something z; and so on. 1 Though there have been a few recent attempts to argue against the necessity of this principle of unrestrictedcomposition the consensus is that if it is true, it is necessarily (...) true. 2In what follows I will join the few dissenters and argue that this principle of unrestrictedcomposition is not necessarily true. If I am right, it follows that either some principle of restricted composition is necessarily true or the existence of composite objects is a contingent matter. I will end by indicating why the latter option seems the most plausible. 3I proceed by reductio. Assume the following: Unrestrictedcomposition is necessarily true.That is, assume that necessarily, any collection of things composes something. Then, necessarily, the collection of everything composes something. That is, necessarily, there exists a universal object U having all things as parts, not itself being a proper part of anything. Hence, by our assumption, we get: There must be a universal object U.It is important to note that this is so whether the world is finite or infinite. Holding that in worlds of finite cardinality there is a universal object U while in worlds of infinite cardinality there is no universal object U amounts to accepting a restricted form of composition. 4Now consider the following scenario. Everything in this world is spatially extended and just one half of something else that is also spatially extended. That is, for any thing in this world, there is something else of which …. (shrink)
That any filled location of spacetime contains a persisting thing has been defended based on the ‘argument from vagueness.’ It is often assumed that since the epistemicist account of vagueness blocks the argument from vagueness it facilitates a conservative ontology without gerrymandered objects. It doesn't. The epistemic vagueness of ordinary object predicates such as ‘bicycle’ requires that objects that can be described as almost-but-not-quite-bicycle exist even though they fall outside the predicate's sharp extension. Since the predicates that begin with ‘almost’ (...) are vague as well, epistemicism's ontological backdrop is far from the conservative picture it is thought to enable. (shrink)
That any filled location of spacetime contains a persisting thing has been defended based on the ‘argument from vagueness.’ It is often assumed that since the epistemicist account of vagueness blocks the argument from vagueness it facilitates a conservative ontology without gerrymandered objects. It doesn't. The epistemic vagueness of ordinary object predicates such as ‘bicycle’ requires that objects that can be described as almost‐but‐not‐quite‐bicycle exist even though they fall outside the predicate's sharp extension. Since the predicates that begin with ‘almost’ (...) are vague as well, epistemicism's ontological backdrop is far from the conservative picture it is thought to enable. (shrink)
David Lewis famously endorsed UnrestrictedComposition. His defense of such a controversial principle builds on the alleged innocence of mereology. This innocence defense has come under different attacks in the last decades. In this paper I pursue another line of defense, that stems from some early remarks by van Inwagen. I argue that UnrestrictedComposition leads to a better metaphysics. In particular I provide new arguments for the following claims: UnrestrictedComposition entails extensionality of (...)composition, functionality of location and four-dimensionalism in the metaphysics of persistence. Its endorsement yields an impressively coherent and powerful metaphysical picture. This picture shows a universe that might not be innocent but it is certainly elegant. (shrink)
There is a general form of an argument which I call the ‘argument from vagueness’ which attempts to show that objects persist by perduring, via the claim that vagueness is never ontological in nature and thus that composition is unrestricted. I argue that even if we grant that vagueness is always the result of semantic indeterminacy rather than ontological vagueness, and thus also grant that composition is unrestricted, it does not follow that objects persist by perduring. (...)Unrestricted mereological composition lacks the power to ensure that there exist instantaneous objects that wholly overlap persisting objects at times, and thus lacks the power to ensure that there exists anything that could be called a temporal part. Even if we grant that such instantaneous objects exist, however, I argue that it does not follow that objects perdure. To show this I briefly outline a coherent version of three dimensionalism that grants just such an assumption. Thus considerations pertaining to the nature of vagueness need not lead us inevitably to accept perdurantism. (shrink)
Standard animalists are committed to a stringent form of restricted composition, thereby denying the existence of brains, hands, and other proper parts of an organism . One reason for positing this near-nihilistic ontology comes from various challenges to animalism such as the Thinking Parts Argument, the Unity Argument, and the Argument from the Problem of the Many. In this paper, I show that these putatively distinct arguments are all instances of a more general problem, which I call the ‘Too (...) Many Candidates Problem’ . Given my formulation of the problem, it is evident that standard animalists are mistaken in believing that restricting composition is the only solution. I show that there is another option for solving the TMC. The advantage of such a position, which I call ‘unrestricted animalism’, is that it is compatible with unrestrictedcomposition and the existence of brains and other proper parts of an organism. I conclude by sketching several strategies one can take regarding this latter solution to the TMC. (shrink)
It is argued that philosophers who adopt the perdurance theory of persistence and who subscribe to the principle of Unrestricted Mereological Composition (UMC) are in a position to regard “Phosphorus is Hesperus” as false.
The paper defends a combination of perdurantism with mereological universalism by developing semantics of temporary predications of the sort ’some P is/was/will be (a) Q’. We argue that, in addition to the usual application of causal and other restrictions on sortals, the grammatical form of such statements allows for rather different regimentations along three separate dimensions, according to: (a) whether ‘P’ and ‘Q’ are being used as phase or substance sortal terms, (b) whether ‘is’, ‘was’, and ‘will be’ are the (...) ‘is’, ‘was’, ‘will be’ of identity or of constitution, and (c) whether ‘Q’ is being used as a subject or predicate term. We conclude that this latitude is beneficial, as it conforms with linguistic reality (i.e., the multiple uses actually in place) and also enables one to turn what is ordinarily perceived as a problem for universalist perdurantism viz., a commitment to all sorts of weird and gerrymandered temporally extended entities, into an advantage, for the richness in questions allows us to make sense of. (shrink)
The paper argues that very different part-whole relations hold between different kinds of entities. While these relations share most of their formal properties, they need not share all of them. Nor need other mereological principles be true of all kinds of part–whole pairs. In particular, it is argued that the principle of unrestrictedcomposition, that any two or more entities have a mereological sum, while true of sets and propositions, is false of things and events.
In this paper I respond to Trenton Merricks's (2005) paper ‘Composition and Vagueness’. I argue that Merricks's paper faces the following difficulty: he claims to provide independent motivation for denying one of the premisses of the Lewis-Sider vagueness argument for unrestrictedcomposition, but the alleged motivation he provides begs the question.
In this paper I present two new arguments against the possibility of an omniscient being. My new arguments invoke considerations of cardinality and resemble several arguments originally presented by Patrick Grim. Like Grim, I give reasons to believe that there must be more objects in the universe than there are beliefs. However, my arguments will rely on certain mereological claims, namely that Classical Extensional Mereology is necessarily true of the part-whole relation. My first argument is an instance of a problem (...) first noted by Gideon Rosen and requires an additional assumption about the mereological structure of certain beliefs. That assumption is that an omniscient being’s beliefs are mereological simples. However, this assumption is dropped when I present my second argument. Thus, I hope to show that if Classical Extensional Mereology is true of the part-whole relation, there cannot be an omniscient being. (shrink)
The main goal of Sider’s book, Four-Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time, is to show why his version of four- dimensionalism, the stage-theory, on balance, should be preferred over its main competitors: it is, in his view, the theory which presents the best unified treatment of a wide range of central metaphysical puzzles; the theory which has, on balance, “the most important advantages and the least serious drawbacks” (ibid., p. 140). I argue in this paper that, when we add (...) up all the evidence for and against the stage-theory, a different assessment of the dialectical situation recommends itself. As it turns out, everything depends on the argument from vagueness, the dialectical fulcrum of Sider’s book. If it were not for the argument from vagueness (so I suggest in outline in Section 2 of this paper), the situation would be relatively even-handed between the three-dimensionalist and the four-dimensionalist. But the argument from vagueness (as I show in more detail in Section 3) suffers from a crucial, and arguably fatal, weakness: no independent, non-question-begging justification has been provided for its most controversial premise, the non-vagueness of mereological composition. (shrink)
The Vagueness Argument for universalism only works if you think there is a good reason not to endorse nihilism. Sider's argument from the possibility of gunk is one of the more popular reasons. Further, Hawley has given an argument for the necessity of everything being either gunky or composed of mereological simples. I argue that Hawley's argument rests on the same premise as Sider's argument for the possibility of gunk. Further, I argue that that premise can be used to demonstrate (...) the possibility of simples. Once you stick it all together, you get an absurd consequence. I then survey the possible lessons we could draw from this, arguing that whichever one you take yields an interesting result. (shrink)
There’s an argument around from so-called “linguistic theories of vagueness”, plus some relatively uncontroversial considerations, to powerful metaphysical conclusions. David Lewis employs this argument to support the mereological principle of unrestrictedcomposition, and Theodore Sider employs a similar argument not just for unrestrictedcomposition but also for the doctrine of temporal parts. This sort of argument could be generalised, to produce a lot of other less palatable metaphysical conclusions. However, arguments to Lewis’s and Sider’s conclusions on (...) the basis of considerations about vagueness are uncompelling, even if we accept the crucial premises about vagueness. And a good thing too, since the generalised form of the argument would prove far too much. (shrink)
According to a popular line of reasoning, diachronic vagueness creates a problem for the endurantist conception of persistence. Some authors have replied that this line of reasoning is inconclusive, since the endurantist can subscribe to a principle of Diachronic UnrestrictedComposition (DUC) that is perfectly parallel to the principle required by the perdurantist’s semantic account. I object that the endurantist should better avoid DUC. And I argue that even DUC, if accepted, would fail to provide the endurantist with (...) the necessary resources for explaining diachronic vagueness in familiar semantic terms. (shrink)
Those who accept the necessity of mereological universalism face what has come to be known as the ‘junk argument’ due to Bohn , which proceeds from the incompatibility of junk with universalism and the possibility of junk, to conclude that mereological universalism isn't metaphysically necessary. Most attention has focused on ; however, recent authors have cast doubt on . This paper undertakes a defence of premise against three main objections. The first is a new objection to the effect that Bohn's (...) defence of that premise presupposes far too much. I show that one can defend premise from a much weaker set of assumptions. The second objection, due to Contessa , is that those who accept unrestrictedcomposition should only accept the existence of binary sums rather than infinitary fusions. I argue that this conception of unrestrictedcomposition is problematic: it is in conflict with an intuitive remainder principle. The final objection is .. (shrink)
A plausible desideratum for an account of the nature of objects, at, and across time, is that it accommodate the phenomenon of vagueness without locating vagueness in the world. A series of arguments have attempted to show that while universalist perdurantism -- which combines a perdurantist account of persistence with an unrestricted mereological account of composition -- meets this desideratum, endurantist accounts do not. If endurantists reject unrestrictedcomposition then they must hold that vagueness is ontological. (...) But if they embrace unrestrictedcomposition they are faced with the problem of the many, and cannot plausibly accommodate vagueness. This paper disambiguates two related sub-problems of the problem of the many, and argues that universalist perdurantism is not superior to universalist endurantism with respect to either of these. (shrink)
A mereological structure is junky if and only if each of its elements is a proper part of some other. The young literature on junk has focused on junky worlds and whether they are counterexamples to unrestrictedcomposition. The present note defends the possibility of junky structures that are not worlds. This possibility complicates a recent attempt in the literature to render junk consistent with a weakened form of unrestrictedcomposition. The upshot is that junky non-worlds (...) threaten the weakened form of unrestrictedcomposition as much as junky worlds threaten the traditional version. (shrink)
other things, that the Vagueness Argument for unrestrictedcomposition fails. In ‘Vagueness and Arbitrariness: Merricks on Composition’, Elizabeth Barnes objects to my argument. This paper replies to Barnes, and also offers further support for the views defended in my original paper.
A plausible desideratum for an account of the nature of objects, at, and across time, is that it accommodate the phenomenon of vagueness without locating vagueness in the world. A series of arguments have attempted to show that while universalist perdurantism – which combines a perdurantist account of persistence with an unrestricted mereological account of composition – meets this desideratum, endurantist accounts do not. If endurantists reject unrestrictedcomposition then they must hold that vagueness is ontological. (...) But if they embrace unrestrictedcomposition they are faced with the problem of the many, and cannot plausibly accommodate vagueness. This paper disambiguates two related sub-problems of the problem of the many, and argues that universalist perdurantism is not superior to universalist endurantism with respect to either of these. (shrink)
UnrestrictedComposition (UC) is, roughly, the claim that given any objects at all, there is something which those objects compose. (UC) conflicts in an obvious way with common sense. It has as a consequence, for instance, that there is something which has as parts my nose and the moon. One of the more influential arguments for (UC) is Theodore Sider’s version of the Argument from Vagueness. (A version of the Argument from Vagueness was first presented by David Lewis (...) (1986), pp. 212–213). That argument purports to show that some plausible claims concerning the nature of vagueness entail (UC). In this paper I will suggest a response to this argument. I will show that the proponent of Supersubstantivalism (SS)—the view that material objects are identical to regions of spacetime—can reject a premise of Sider’s argument without denying the plausible claims concerning vagueness. Doing so requires only rejecting a certain view concerning the relationship between the proper sub-region relation and the proper parthood relation. So, proponents of (SS) are in a better position than many of us to side with common sense regarding composition. In the first section of the paper, I will present Sider’s argument. In the second section, I will introduce (SS) and briefly discuss some reasons one might have to believe that it is true. In the third section, I will show how the proponent of (SS) can avoid commitment to (UC) and reject a premise of Sider’s argument. Last, I’ll briefly consider and respond to some objections. (shrink)
In “Proof-Theoretic Justiﬁcation of Logic”, building on work by Dummett and Prawitz, I show how to construct use-based meaning-theories for the logical constants. The assertability-conditional meaning-theory takes the meaning of the logical constants to be given by their introduction rules; the consequence-conditional meaning-theory takes the meaning of the logical constants to be given by their elimination rules. I then consider the question: given a set of introduction rules \, what are the strongest elimination rules that are validated by an assertability (...) conditional meaning-theory based on \? I prove that the intuitionistic introduction rules are the strongest rules that are validated by the intuitionistic elimination rules. I then prove that intuitionistic logic is the strongest logic that can be given either an assertability-conditional or consequence-conditional meaning-theory. In “Grounding Grounding” I discuss the notion of grounding. My discussion revolves around the problem of iterated grounding-claims. Suppose that \ grounds \; what grounds that \ grounds that \? I argue that unless we can get a satisfactory answer to this question the notion of grounding will be useless. I discuss and reject some proposed accounts of iterated grounding claims. I then develop a new way of expressing grounding, propose an account of iterated grounding-claims and show how we can develop logics for grounding. In “Is the Vagueness Argument Valid?” I argue that the Vagueness Argument in favor of unrestrictedcomposition isn’t valid. However, if the premisses of the argument are true and the conclusion false, mereological facts fail to supervene on non-mereological facts. I argue that this failure of supervenience is an artifact of the interplay between the necessity and determinacy operators and that it does not mean that mereological facts fail to depend on non-mereological facts. I sketch a deﬂationary view of ontology to establish this. (shrink)
This is an overview of my book, Four-Dimensionalism. The spatiotemporal metaphysics of Russell, Smart, Quine and Lewis is a blend of separable components concerning time, persistence, mereology, and even semantics, unified by the theme that space and time are analogous: eternalism ; the reducibility of tense ; four-dimensionalism: temporal parts exist; unrestrictedcomposition , and the "worm view" . My book defends each component except the last.
Universalism (the thesis that distinct objects always compose a further object) has come under much scrutiny in recent years. What has been largely ignored is its role in the metaphysics of classes. Not only does universalism provide ways to deal with classes in a metaphysically pleasing fashion, its success on these grounds has been offered as a motivation for believing it. This paper argues that such treatments of classes can be achieved without universalism, examining theories from Goodman and Quine, Armstrong (...) and Lewis. In the case of each theory, universalism is drafted in to ensure that there are enough material objects to play a particular role. I argue that, for each theory, there's a better theory that ditches universalism and instead uses an alternative principle of composition demanding that the unrestrictedcomposition of entities other than material objects (respectively: regions, states of affairs and singletons) play that role instead. I conclude that (1) non-universalists can consider accepting such theories of classes and (2) we should ignore any alleged motivation for universalism on the basis of dealing with classes. (shrink)
In the process of arguing against all theories of extended material objects made up of simples, Dean Zimmerman has recently argued against the compossibility of continuous closed and continuous open material objects. But it is surely undeniable that point-like material objects are possible; plausible principles of recombination and the principle of unrestrictedcomposition then lead to the possibility Zimmerman rejects. Fortunately, Zimmerman’s arguments can be resisted: what appear to be implausible modal consequences of the compossibility of open and (...) closed continuous material objects turn out to be merely the results of a decision to use ‘material object’ in a certain way. (shrink)
Four-dimensionalism, the stage theory version in particular, has been defended as the best solution for avoiding vagueness in regards to composition, persistence and identity. Stage theory is highly problematic by itself, and the two views usually packed with it, unrestrictedcomposition and counterpart theory, are a heavy burden. However, dispensing with these two views, four-dimensionalism could avoid vague persistence by issuing a criterion that would establish sharp temporal boundaries for the existence of genuine entities (simples, molecules and (...) living organisms). This would avoid vague existence and vague identity, but in a way that is still compatible with endurantism. Nevertheless, a minimal (substantialist) four-dimensionalism, a worm perdurantist ontology, would fit better with the unique way in which organisms persist: by retaining both identity and intrinsic change. (shrink)
The rich resources of the Four-Dimensional metaphysics have been brought to bear upon many traditional philosophical problems in recent years. Alas, the implications of Four-Dimensionalism for bioethics have gone largely unexplored. Hud Hudson is the rare exception. Relying upon a Four- Dimensional metaphysics of temporal parts and a belief in unrestrictedcomposition, he argues that there is little reason to identify the perduring human embryonic animal and the perduring human person. He makes the intriguing claim that if abortion (...) is wrong, then it is not because the human animal within its motherâ€™s womb is a person. This he rightly claims â€œis a very significant resultâ€ for â€œan overwhelming amount of the literature on abortion and infanticide (as well as much of the public debate on these topics) seems to turn on the question of whether or not the human fetus is a person.â€ [3, p. 153]. (shrink)
Chapter 1: “Ordinary Objects and the Argument from Strange Concepts.” Chapter 2: “Restricted Composition Without Sharp Cut-Offs.” Chapter 3: “Three Solutions to the Grounding Problem for Coincident Objects.” Chapter 4: “Ordinary Objects Without Overdetermination.” Chapter 5: “Eliminativism and the Challenge from Folk Belief.” Chapter 6: “UnrestrictedComposition and Restricted Quantification.”.
This article explores how the diversity of board resources and the number of women on boards affect firms' corporate social responsibility (CSR) ratings, and how, in turn, CSR influences corporate reputation. In addition, this article examines whether CSR ratings mediate the relationships among board resource diversity, gender composition, and corporate reputation. The OLS regression results using lagged data for independent and control variables were statistically significant for the gender composition hypotheses, but not for the resource diversitybased hypotheses. CSR (...) ratings had a positive impact on reputation and mediated the relationship between the number of women on the board and corporate reputation. (shrink)
According to standard, pre-philosophical intuitions, there are many composite objects in the physical universe. There is, for example, my bicycle, which is composed of various parts - wheels, handlebars, molecules, atoms, etc. Recently, a growing body of philosophical literature has concerned itself with questions about the nature of composition.1 The main question that has been raised about composition is, roughly, this: Under what circumstances do some things compose, or add up to, or form, a single object? It turns (...) out that it is surprisingly difficult to give a satisfactory answer to this question that accords with standard, pre-philosophical intuitions about the universe's composite objects. In fact, the three rival views in response to this question that have received the most support in the literature are (i) that there are no objects composed of two or more parts (which means that there are no stars, chairs, humans, or bicycles);2 (ii) that the only objects composed of two or more parts are living organisms (which still means no stars. (shrink)
The special composition question is the question, ‘When do some things compose something?’ The answers to this question in the literature have largely been at odds with common sense, either by allowing that any two things compose something, or by denying the existence of most ordinary composite objects. I propose a new ‘series-style’ answer to the special composition question that accords much more closely with common sense, and I defend this answer from van Inwagen's objections. Specifically, I will (...) argue that the proposed answer entails the transitivity of parthood, that it is non-circular, and that it casts some light on the ancient puzzle about the Ship of Theseus. (shrink)
There is widespread disagreement as to what the facts are concerning just when a collection of objects composes some further object; but there is widespread agreement that, whatever those facts are, they are necessary. I am unhappy to simply assume this, and in this paper I ask whether there is reason to think that the facts concerning composition hold necessarily. I consider various reasons to think so, but find fault with each of them. I examine the theory of (...) class='Hi'>composition as identity, but argue that the version of this doctrine that entails universalism is implausible. I consider the claim that the a priority of such facts leads to their necessity, but give a defence of substantial contingent a priori truths. I ask whether the contingency of such facts would lead to unwelcome possibilities, but argue that the worrying looking possibilities can be blocked if it is desired. Next, I argue against the thought that the Lewis-Sider argument against restricted composition might give us reason to accept the necessity of universalism. Lastly, I respond to two objections from the 2006 BSPC. I conclude in favour of the contingency of the facts concerning when some things compose some thing. (shrink)
The special composition question asks, roughly, under what conditions composition occurs. The common sense view is that composition only occurs among some things and that all and only ‘ordinary objects’ exist. Peter van Inwagen has marshaled a devastating argument against this view. The common sense view appears to commit one to giving what van Inwagen calls a ‘series-style answer’ to the special composition question, but van Inwagen argues that series-style answers are impossible because they are inconsistent (...) with the transitivity of parthood. In what follows I answer this objection in addition to other, less troubling objections raised by van Inwagen. (shrink)
Mereological nihilism is the thesis that composition never occurs. Some philosophers have thought that science gives us compelling evidence against nihilism. In this article I respond to this concern. An initial challenge for nihilism stems from the fact that composition is such a ubiquitous feature of scientific theories. In response I motivate a restricted form of scientific anti-realism with respect to those components of scientific theories which make reference to composition. A second scientifically based worry for nihilism (...) is that certain specific scientific phenomena might require ineliminable quantification over composite objects. I address these concerns, and argue that there seem to be nihilist-friendly construals of the scientific phenomena in question. (shrink)
When some objects are the parts of another object, they compose that object and that object is composite. This article is intended as an introduction to the central questions about composition and a highly selective overview of various answers to those questions. In §1, we review some formal features of parthood that are important for understanding the nature of composition. In §2, we consider some answers to the question: which pluralities of objects together compose something? As we will (...) see, the dominant answers are all of them and none of them. In §§3-4, we examine one of the main arguments that has driven philosophers to these extreme answers: the argument from vagueness. In §5, we turn to the question of whether composition is unique: is it sometimes the case that some things compose more than one thing? Finally, in §6, we turn from the question of which composites exist to the question of which composites exist fundamentally. (shrink)
Although the composition of the board of directors has important implications for different aspects of firm performance, prior studies tend to focus on financial performance. The effects of board composition on corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance remain an under-researched area, particularly in the period following the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). This article specifically examines two important aspects of board composition (i.e., the presence of outside directors and the presence of women directors) and their (...) relationship with CSR performance in the Post-SOX era. With data covering over 500 of the largest companies listed on the U.S. stock exchanges and spanning 64 different industries, we find empirical evidence showing that greater presence of outside and women directors is linked to better CSR performance within a firm’s industry. Treating CSR performance as the reflection of a firm’s moral legitimacy, our study suggests that deliberate structuring of corporate boards may be an effective approach to enhance a firm’s moral legitimacy. (shrink)
Rose and Schaffer (forthcoming) argue that teleological thinking has a substantial influence on folk intuitions about composition. They take this to show (i) that we should not rely on folk intuitions about composition and (ii) that we therefore should not reject theories of composition on the basis of intuitions about composition. We cast doubt on the teleological interpretation of folk judgments about composition; we show how their debunking argument can be resisted, even on the assumption (...) that folk intuitions have a teleological source; and we argue that, even if folk intuitions about composition carry no weight, theories of composition can still be rejected on the basis of the intuitions of metaphysicians. (shrink)
I defend coincidentalism (the view that some pluralities have more than one mereological fusion) and restricted composition (the view that some pluralities lack mereological fusions) against recent arguments due to Theodore Sider.
Some authors claim that restricted quantification occurs in all contexts and that our quantifiers are never completely unrestricted. I will argue against these claims and defend the possibility of unrestricted quantification. I will also argue that unrestricted quantification does not imply the existence of a collection with absolutely everything.
The literature on material composition has largely ignored the composition of actions and events. I argue that this is a mistake. I present a set of individually plausible yet jointly inconsistent claims regarding the connection between quantification and existence, the composition of physical entities and the logical forms of action sentences.
I argue that Universalism (the thesis that mereological composition is unrestricted) entails Extensionalism (the thesis that sameness of composition is sufficient for identity) as long as the parthood relation is transitive and satisfies the Weak Supplementation principle (to the effect that whenever a thing has a proper part, it has another part disjoint from the first).
David Lewis (1986) criticizes moderate views of composition on the grounds that a restriction on composition must be vague, and vague composition leads, via a precisificational theory of vagueness, to an absurd vagueness of existence. I show how to resist this argument. Unlike the usual resistance, however, I do not jettison precisificational views of vagueness. Instead, I blur the connection between composition and existence that Lewis assumes. On the resulting view, in troublesome cases of vague (...) class='Hi'>composition, there is an object, which definitely exists, about which it is vague whether the relevant borderline parts compose it. (shrink)
I focus on three mereological principles: the Extensionality of Parthood (EP), the Uniqueness of Composition (UC), and the Extensionality of Composition (EC). These principles are not equivalent. Nonetheless, they are closely related (and often equated) as they all reflect the basic nominalistic dictum, No difference without a difference maker. And each one of them—individually or collectively—has been challenged on philosophical grounds. In the first part I argue that such challenges do not quite threaten EP insofar as they are (...) either self-defeating or unsupported. In the second part I argue that they hardly undermine the tenability of EC and UC as well. (shrink)
Composition as identity, as I understand it, is a theory of the composite structure of reality. The theory’s underlying logic is irreducibly plural; its fundamental primitive is a generalized identity relation that takes either plural or singular arguments. Strong versions of the theory that incorporate a generalized version of the indiscernibility of identicals are incompatible with the framework of plural logic, and should be rejected. Weak versions of the theory that are based on the idea that composition is (...) merely analogous to identity are too weak to be interesting, lacking in metaphysical consequence. I defend a moderate version according to which composition is a kind of identity, and argue that the difference is metaphysically substantial, not merely terminological. I then consider whether the notion of generalized identity, though fundamental, can be elucidated in modal terms by reverse engineering Hume’s Dictum. Unfortunately, for realists about possible worlds, such as myself,... (shrink)