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)
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)
‘Restricted composition’ says that there are some composite objects. And it says that some objects jointly compose nothing at all. The main threat to restricted composition is the influential and widely defended Vagueness Argument. We shall see that the Vagueness Argument fails. In seeing how this argument fails, we shall discover a new focus for the debate over composition's extent.
I argue for patternism, a new answer to the question of when some objects compose a whole. None of the standard principles of composition comfortably capture our natural judgments, such as that my cat exists and my table exists, but there is nothing wholly composed of them. Patternism holds, very roughly, that some things compose a whole whenever together they form a “real pattern”. Plausibly we are inclined to acknowledge the existence of my cat and my table but not (...) of their fusion, because the first two have a kind of internal organizational coherence that their putative fusion lacks. Kolmogorov complexity theory supplies the needed rigorous sense of “internal organizational coherence”. (shrink)
Some claim that Composition as Identity (CI) entails Mereological Essentialism (ME). If this is right, then we have an effective modus tollens against CI: ME is clearly false, so CI is, too. Rather than deny the conditional, I will argue that a CI theorist should embrace ME. I endorse a theory of modal parts such that ordinary objects are spatially, temporally, and modally extended. Accepting modal parts is certainly beneficial to CI theorists, but it also provides elegant solutions to (...) the traditional puzzles of constitution, making it a competitive move in its own right. (shrink)
Many say that ontological disputes are defective because they are unimportant or without substance. In this paper, we defend ontological disputes from the charge, with a special focus on disputes over the existence of composite objects. Disputes over the existence of composite objects, we argue, have a number of substantive implications across a variety of topics in metaphysics, science, philosophical theology, philosophy of mind, and ethics. Since the disputes over the existence of composite objects have these substantive implications, they are (...) themselves substantive. (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)
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)
In this paper, I present the thesis of Composition as Identity as I think it should be understood, and reply to some objections to it. My aim is not to argue that CAI is true, but to show how CAI can be true, and push the debate forward in the direction I think it must and should go in light of some new objections.
According to strong composition as identity, the logical principles of one–one and plural identity can and should be extended to the relation between a whole and its parts. Otherwise, composition would not be legitimately regarded as an identity relation. In particular, several defenders of strong CAI have attempted to extend Leibniz’s Law to composition. However, much less attention has been paid to another, not less important feature of standard identity: a standard identity statement is true iff its (...) terms are coreferential. We contend that, if coreferentiality is dropped, indiscernibility is no help in making composition a genuine identity relation. To this aim, we analyse as a case study Cotnoir’s theory of general identity, in which indiscernibility is obtained thanks to a revisionary semantics and true identity statements are allowed to connect non-coreferential terms. We extend Cotnoir’s strategy for indiscernibility to the relation of comaternity, and we show that, neither in the case of composition nor in that of comaternity, indiscernibility contibutes to show that they are genuine identity relations. Finally, we compare Cotnoir’s approach with other versions of strong CAI endorsed by Wallace, Bøhn, and Hovda, and canvass the extent to which they violate coreferentiality. The comparative analysis shows that, in order to preserve coreferentiality, strong CAI is forced to adopt a non-standard semantic treatment of the singular/plural distinction. (shrink)
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)
According to the so-called strong variant of Composition as Identity (CAI), the Principle of Indiscernibility of Identicals can be extended to composition, by resorting to broadly Fregean relativizations of cardinality ascriptions. In this paper we analyze various ways in which this relativization could be achieved. According to one broad variety of relativization, cardinality ascriptions are about objects, while concepts occupy an additional argument place. It should be possible to paraphrase the cardinality ascriptions in plural logic and, as a (...) consequence, relative counting requires the relativization either of quantifiers, or of identity, or of the is one of relation. However, some of these relativizations do not deliver the expected results, and others rely on problematic assumptions. In another broad variety of relativization, cardinality ascriptions are about concepts or sets. The most promising development of this approach is prima facie connected with a violation of the so-called Coreferentiality Constraint, according to which an identity statement is true only if its terms have the same referent. Moreover - even provided that the problem with coreferentiality can be fixed - the resulting analysis of cardinality ascriptions meets several difficulties. (shrink)
According to ‘Strong Composition as Identity’, if an entity is composed of a plurality of entities, it is identical to them. As it has been argued in the literature, SCAI appears to give rise to some serious problems which seem to suggest that SCAI-theorists should take their plural quantifier to be governed by some ‘weak’ plural comprehension principle and, thus, ‘exclude’ some kinds of pluralities from their plural ontology. The aim of this paper is to argue that, contrary to (...) what may appear at first sight, the assumption of a weak plural comprehension principle is perfectly compatible with plural logic and the common uses of plural quantification. As I aim to show, SCAI-theorists can simply claim that their theory must be understood as formulated by means of the most ‘joint-carving’ plural quantifier, thus leaving open the possibility of other, less joint-carving, ‘unrestricted’ plural quantifiers. In the final part of the paper I will also suggest that SCAI-theorists should not only allow for singular quantification over pluralities of entities, but also for plural quantification over ‘super-pluralities’ of entities. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the debate on Composition as Identity—the thesis that any composite object is identical to its parts—is deadlocked because both the defenders and the detractors of the claim have so far failed to take its philosophical core at face value and have, as a result, defended and criticized respectively something that is not Composition as Identity. After establishing how Composition as Identity should properly be understood and proposing for it a new interpretation (...) centered around the novel notion of metaphysical information, I set forth a strategy to defend it that crucially rests on the indefinite extensibility of the domain of quantification. I eventually suggest that “Composition as Analysis” is a name that better reflects the content and theoretical proposal of the thesis that Composition as Identity is supposed to be. (shrink)
Some mereologists boast that their view of parts and wholes is ontologically innocent.[Lewis 1991: 72-87] They claim that a fusion is nothing over and above its parts; once you’ve committed to the parts, you get the fusion for free. In other words, fusions are not a further ontological commitment beyond the commitment to the parts. There are various proposals to explain how it is that fusions can come about so cheap. Perhaps the most straightforward of these explanations, and the one (...) I will be concerned with in this paper, is to accept the Strong Composition Thesis:2, 3.. (shrink)
This paper defends a realist account of the composition of Newtonian forces, dubbed ‘residualism’. According to residualism, the resultant force acting on a body is identical to the component forces acting on it that do not prevent each other from bringing about its acceleration. Several reasons to favor residualism over alternative accounts of the composition of forces are advanced. (i) Residualism reconciles realism about component forces with realism about resultant forces while avoiding any threat of causal overdetermination. (ii) (...) Residualism provides a systematic semantics for the term ‘force’ within Newtonian mechanics. (iii) Residualism allows us to precisely apportion the causal responsibility of each component force in the ensuing acceleration. (iv) Residualism handles special cases such as null forces, single forces, and antagonistic forces in a natural way. (v) Residualism provides a neat picture of the causal powers of forces: each force essentially has two causal powers⎯the power to bring about accelerations (sometimes together with other co-directionnal forces) and the power to prevent other forces from doing so⎯exactly one of which is manifested at a time. (vi) Residualism avoids commitment to unobservable effects of forces: forces cause either stresses (tensile or compressive) or accelerations. (shrink)
I defend the thesis that Composition Entails Identity (CEI): that is, a whole is identical to all of its parts, taken together. CEI seems to be inconsistent, since it seems to require that the parts of a whole possess incompatible number properties (for instance, being one thing and being many things). I show that these number properties are, in fact, compatible.
On the grounds that there are no mereological composites, mereological nihilists deny that ordinary objects exist. Even if nihilism is true, however, I argue that tables and chairs exist anyway: for I deny that ordinary objects are the mereological sums the nihilist rejects. Instead, I argue, ordinary objects have a different nature; they are arrangements, not composites. My argument runs as follows. First, I defend realism about ordinary objects by showing that there is something that plays the role of ordinary (...) objects in perception and discourse, and that ordinary objects are whatever plays this role. Next, I argue that it is arrangements that play this role. It follows that ordinary objects exist- even if mereological nihilism is true. (shrink)
Abstract: The 'special composition question' is this: given objects O1, . . . , On, under what conditions is there an object O, such that O1, . . . , On compose O? This paper explores a heterodox answer to this question, one that casts composition as a secondary quality. According to the approach I want to consider, there is an O that O1, . . . , On compose (roughly) just in case a normal intuiter would, under (...) normal conditions, intuit that there is. (shrink)
This collection of essays is the first of its kind to focus on the relationship between composition and identity. Twelve original articles--written by internationally renowned scholars and rising stars in the field--argue for and against the controversial doctrine that composition is identity.--Provided by publisher.
The paper is an extended discussion of what I call the ‘dismissive attitude’ towards metaphysical questions. It has three parts. In the first part, I distinguish three quite different versions of dismissivism. I also argue that there is little reason to think that any of these positions is correct about the discipline of metaphysics as a whole; it is entirely possible that some metaphysical disputes should be dismissed and others should not be. Doing metametaphysics properly requires doing metaphysics first. I (...) then put two particular disputes on the table to be examined in the rest of the paper: the dispute over whether composite objects exist, and the dispute about whether distinct objects can be colocated. In the second part of the paper, I argue against the claim that these disputes are purely verbal disputes. In the third part of the paper, I present a new version of dismissivism, and argue that it is probably the correct view about the two disputes in question. They are not verbal disputes, and the discussion about them to date has not remotely been a waste of time. At this stage, however, our evidence has run out. I argue that neither side of either dispute is simpler than the other, and that the same objections in fact arise against both sides. (For example, the compositional nihilist does not in fact escape the problem of the many, and the one-thinger does not in fact escape the grounding problem.). (shrink)
Composition as Identity is the thesis that a whole is, strictly and literally, identical to its parts, considered collectively. McDaniel  argues against CAI in that it prohibits emergent properties. Recently Sider  exploited the resources of plural logic and extensional mereology to undermine McDaniel’s argument. He shows that CAI identifies extensionally equivalent pluralities – he calls it the Collapse Principle – and then shows how this identification rescues CAI from the emergentist argument. In this paper I first give (...) a new generalized version of both the arguments. It is more general in that it does not presuppose an atomistic mereology. I then go on to argue that the consequences of CP are rather radical. It entails mereological nihilism, the view that there are only mereological atoms. I finally show that, given a mild assumption about property instantiation, namely that there are no un-instantiated properties, this argument entails that CAI and emergent properties are incompatible after all. (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)
The general composition question asks “what are the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions any xs and any y must satisfy in order for it to be true that those xs compose that y?” Although this question has received little attention, there is an interesting and theoretically fruitful answer. Namely, strong composition as identity (SCAI): necessarily, for any xs and any y, those xs compose y iff those xs are identical to y. SCAI is theoretically fruitful because if it (...) is true, then there is an answer to one of the most difficult and intractable questions of mereology (The Simple Question). In this paper, I introduce the identity account of simplicity and argue that if SCAI is true then this identity account of simplicity is as well. I consider an objection to the identity account of simplicity. Ultimately, I find this objection unsuccessful. (shrink)
Composition is Identity is the thesis that a whole is, strict and literally, its parts considered collectively. Mereological Nihilism is the thesis that there are no composite objects whatsoever instead. This paper argues that they are equivalent, at least insofar as Composition is Identity is phrased in a particular way. It then addresses some consequences of such equivalence.
A recurrent theme in research on socially distributed cognition is to establish the claim that the cognitive phenomenon of transactive memory is grounded in a specific mode of organization: mechanistic compositional organization. My topic is the confluence of transactive remembering or transactive memory systems (TMSs) and mechanistic compositional organization. In relation to this confluence, the paper scrutinizes the claim that the kind of organization grounding TMSs and/or tokens of transactive remembering takes the specific form of mechanistic compositional organization – at (...) least as the latter is usually construed. It is argued (i) that the usual account of mechanistic compositional organization is based on a synchronic composition function, and (ii) that the organization of TMSs and/or transactive remembering is not well understood by way of synchronic composition. The positive account pursued is that TMSs and/or transactive remembering are better understood as grounded in a diachronic composition function. (shrink)
Natural languages are compositional in that the meaning of complex expressions depends on those of the parts and how they are put together. Here, I ask the following question: why are languages compositional? I answer this question by extending Lewis–Skyrms signaling games with a rudimentary form of compositional signaling and exploring simple reinforcement learning therein. As it turns out: in complex worlds, having compositional signaling helps simple agents learn to communicate. I am also able to show that learning the meaning (...) of a function word, once meanings of atomic words are known, presents no difficulty. (shrink)
Ned Markosian has recently defended a new theory of composition, which he calls regionalism : some material objects xx compose something if and only if there is a material object located at the fusion of the locations of xx. Markosian argues that regionalism follows from what he calls the subregion theory of parthood. Korman and Carmichael agree. We provide countermodels to show that regionalism does not follow from, even together with fourteen potentially implicit background principles. We then show that (...) regionalism does follow from five of those background principles together with and two additional principles connecting parthood and location, which we call and. While the additional principles are not uncontroversial, our conjecture is that many will find them attractive. We conclude by mentioning that fills a previously unnoticed gap in the formal theory of location presented in Parsons. (shrink)
Let’s begin with a simple example. Consider two quarks: one near the tip of your nose, the other near the center of Alpha Centauri. Here is a question about these two subatomic particles: Is there an object that has these two quarks as its parts and that has no other parts? According to one view of the matter (a view that is surprisingly endorsed by a great many contemporary philosophers), the answer to this question is Yes. But I think it (...) is fair to say that according to common sense, the answer to this question is really No, there is no object that has as its only two parts a quark near the tip of your nose and another quark near the center of Alpha Centauri. (shrink)
We describe a logic which is the same as first-order logic except that it allows control over the information that passes down from formulas to subformulas. For example the logic is adequate to express branching quantifiers. We describe a compositional semantics for this logic; in particular this gives a compositional meaning to formulas of the 'information-friendly' language of Hintikka and Sandu. For first-order formulas the semantics reduces to Tarski's semantics for first-order logic. We prove that two formulas have the same (...) interpretation in all structures if and only if replacing an occurrence of one by an occurrence of the other in a sentence never alters the truth-value of the sentence in any structure. (shrink)
According to ‘composition as identity’, a composite object is identical to all its parts taken together. Thus, a plurality of composite objects is identical to the plurality of those objects’ parts. This has the consequence that, e.g., the bricks which compose a brick wall are identical to the atoms which compose those bricks, and hence that the plurality of bricks must include each of those atoms. This consequence of CAI is in direct conflict with the standard analysis of plural (...) definite descriptions. According to that analysis, the denotation of ‘the bricks’ can include only bricks. It seems, then, that if CAI is true, ‘the bricks’ doesn’t denote anything; more generally, if CAI is true, there are fewer pluralities than we ordinarily think. I respond to this argument by developing an alternative analysis of plural descriptions which allows the denotation of ‘the bricks’ to include non-bricks. Thus, we can accept CAI, while still believing in all the pluralities we could want. As a bonus, my approach to plural descriptions and plural comprehension blocks recent arguments to the effect that CAI entails compositional nihilism. (shrink)
I argue that Composition as Identity blocks the plural version of Cantor's Theorem, and that therefore the plural version of Cantor's Theorem can no longer be uncritically appealed to. As an example, I show how this result blocks a recent argument by Hawthorne and Uzquiano.
The thesis of Weak Unrestricted Composition says that every pair of objects has a fusion. This thesis has been argued by Contessa and Smith to be compatible with the world being junky and hence to evade an argument against the necessity of Strong Unrestricted Composition proposed by Bohn. However, neither Weak Unrestricted Composition alone nor the different variants of it that have been proposed in the literature can provide us with a satisfying answer to the special (...) class='Hi'>composition question, or so we will argue. We will then go on to explore an alternative family of purely mereological rules in the vicinity of Weak Unrestricted Composition, Cardinal Composition: A plurality of pairwise non-overlapping objects composes an object iff the objects in the plurality are of cardinality smaller than $$\kappa $$ κ. As we will show, all the instances for infinite $$\kappa $$ κ s determine fusion and are compatible with junk, and every instance for a $$\kappa > \aleph _0$$ κ > ℵ 0 is furthermore compatible with gunk and dense chains of parthood. (shrink)
Van Inwagen proposes that besides simples only living organisms exist as composite objects. This paper suggests expanding van Inwagen’s ontology by also accepting composite objects in the case that physical bonding occurs (plus some extra conditions). Such objects are not living organ-isms but rather physical bodies. They include (approximately) the complete realm of inanimate ordinary objects, like rocks and tables, as well as inanimate scientific objects, like atoms and mol-ecules, the latter filling the ontological gap between simples and organisms in (...) van Inwagen’s origi-nal picture. We thus propose a compositional pluralism claiming that composition arises if and on-ly if bonding or life occurs. (shrink)
Many of us think that ordinary objects – such as tables and chairs – exist. We also think that ordinary objects have parts: my chair has a seat and some legs as parts, for example. But once we are committed to the (seemingly innocuous) thesis that ordinary objects are composed of parts, we then open ourselves up to a whole host of philosophical problems, most of which center on what exactly this composition relation is. Composition as Identity (CI) (...) is the view that the composition relation is the identity relation. While such a view has some advantages, there are many arguments against it. In this essay, I discuss several versions of the most common objection against CI, and show how the CI theorist can maintain that these arguments – contrary their initial intuitive appeal – are nonetheless unsound. (shrink)
One of the main motivations for compositional nihilism, the view that there are no composite material objects, concerns the many puzzles and problems associated with them. Nihilists claim that eliminating composites provides a unified solution to a slew of varied, difficult problems. However, numerous philosophers have questioned whether this is really so. While nihilists clearly avoid the usual, composite-featuring formulations of the puzzles, the concern is that the commitments that generate the problems are not eliminated along with composites. If this (...) is correct, it severely undercuts the motivation for the view. However, I argue that it is not correct. The aim of this paper is to explain exactly how and why eliminating composites dissolves substantive metaphysical puzzles. More generally, I aim to clarify the nihilist’s ontological commitments and the scope of the paraphrase strategy she employs. (shrink)
Many of us think that ordinary objects – such as tables and chairs – exist. We also think that ordinary objects have parts: my chair has a seat and some legs as parts, for example. But once we are committed to the thesis that ordinary objects are composed of parts, we then open ourselves up to a whole host of philosophical problems, most of which center on what exactly the composition relation is. Composition as Identity is the view (...) that the composition relation is the identity relation. While such a view has some advantages, there are many arguments against it. In this essay, I will briefly canvass three different varieties of Composition as Identity, and suggest why one of them should be preferred over the others. Then I will outline several versions of the most common objection against CI. I will suggest how a CI theorist can respond to these charges by maintaining that some of the arguments are invalid. (shrink)
This essay gives a new interpretation of Hume's second thoughts about minds in the Appendix, based on a new interpretation of his view of composition. In Book 1 of the Treatise, Hume argued that, as far as we can conceive it, a mind is a whole composed by all its perceptions. But—this essay argues—he also held that several perceptions form a whole only if the mind to which they belong supplies a “connexion” among them. In order to do so, (...) it must contain a further perception or perceptions. But when the perceptions in question are all of those belonging to a given mind—as in the section “Of personal identity” and the Appendix—there cannot be a further perception in that mind, and so those perceptions do not form a whole. Hence, Hume's views were inconsistent. This essay argues that, unlike most others, this interpretation explains his retreat to skepticism in the Appendix. (shrink)
We find "vertical" relations in many different realms, whether between atoms and molecules, words and sentences, neurons and brains, or individuals and societies. This book is the first to bring together, and comparatively assess, the exciting array of philosophical approaches to vertical relations that have independently sprung up in analytic metaphysics, the metaphysics of mind, and the philosophy of science. Analytic metaphysicians have recently focused on a relation of 'Ground' that is claimed to be found in aesthetics, ethics, logic, mathematics, (...) science, and semantics. Metaphysicians of mind have focussed on a vertical relation of 'realization' between properties, whilst philosophers of science associated with the rise of the 'New Mechanism' have renewed interest in vertical relations of scientific composition found in so-called "mechanistic explanations". This volume analyses the inter-relations between these different approaches to spark a range of new debates, including whether the various frameworks for vertical relations are independent, complementary or in even competition. (shrink)
Many of us think that ordinary objects – such as tables and chairs – exist. We also think that ordinary objects have parts: my chair has a seat and some legs as parts, for example. But once we are committed to the (seemingly innocuous) thesis that ordinary objects are composed of parts, we then open ourselves up to a whole host of philosophical problems, most of which center on what exactly the composition relation is. Composition as Identity (CI) (...) is the view that the composition relation is the identity relation. While such a view has some advantages, there are many arguments against it. In this essay, I will briefly canvass three different varieties of Composition as Identity, and suggest why one of them should be preferred over the others. Then I will outline several versions of the most common objection against CI. I will suggest how a CI theorist can respond to these charges by maintaining that some of the arguments are invalid. (In part 2, I show how a CI theorist can maintain that the remaining arguments, while valid, are unsound). (shrink)
Orthodoxy says that the thesis that composition is identity entails universalism: the claim that any collection of entities has a sum. If this is true it counts in favour of CAI, since a thesis about the nature of composition that settles the otherwise intractable special composition question is desirable. But I argue that it is false: CAI is compatible with the many forms of restricted composition, and SCQ is no easier to answer given CAI than otherwise. (...) Furthermore, in seeing why this is the case we reveal an objection to CAI: that it allows for the facts concerning what there is to be settled whilst leaving open the question about what is identical to what. (shrink)
Region R Question: How many objects — entities, things — are contained in R? Ignore the empty space. Our question might better be put, 'How many material objects does R contain?' Let's stipulate that A, B and C are metaphysical atoms: absolutely simple entities with no parts whatsoever besides themselves. So you don't have to worry about counting a particle's top half and bottom half as different objects. Perhaps they are 'point-particles', with no length, width or breadth. Perhaps they are (...) extended in space without possessing spatial parts (if that is possible). Never mind. We stipulate that A, B and C are perfectly simple. We also stipulate that they are connected as follows. A and B are stuck together in such a way that when a force is applied to one of them, they move together 'as a unit'. Moreover, the two of them together exhibit behavior that neither would exhibit on its own — Perhaps they emit a certain sound, or glow in the dark — whereas C is.. (shrink)
This paper offers a composite portrait of the concept of magnanimity in nineteenth-century America, focusing on Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau. A composite portrait, as a method in the history of philosophy, is designed to bring out characteristic features of a group's philosophizing in order to illuminate characteristic features that may still resonate in today's philosophy. Compared to more standard methods in the historiography of philosophy, the construction of a composite portrait de-privileges the views of individual (...) authors. These philosophers saw the virtue of magnanimity as a remedy for a number of modern ills. American philosophers suggest that the best sort of magnanimity is acquired by adopting the correct relation to the natural world, including new forms of inquiry, or by adopting a life of voluntary poverty. Magnanimous individuals are critics of capitalism and offer themselves as exemplars of a better, experimental life. (shrink)
Recently, some mechanists have embraced reductionism and some reductionists have endorsed mechanism. However, the two camps disagree sharply about the extent to which mechanistic explanation is a reductionistic enterprise. Reductionists maintain that cellular and molecular mechanisms can explain mental phenomena without necessary appeal to higher-level mechanisms. Mechanists deny this claim. I argue that this dispute turns on whether reduction is a transitive relation. I show that it is. Therefore, mechanistic explanations at the cellular and molecular level explain mental phenomena. I (...) make my case in part by noting that mechanisms at higher levels are composed of mechanisms at lower levels. Compositional relations are transitive. In addition, they are explanatory. I conclude that there are explanatory linkages from cellular and molecular mechanisms to mental phenomena within a hierarchy of nested mechanisms. (shrink)
Are Fregean thoughts compositionally complex and composed of senses? We argue that, in Begriffsschrift, Frege took 'conceptual contents' to be unstructured, but that he quickly moved away from this position, holding just two years later that conceptual contents divide of themselves into 'function' and 'argument'. This second position is shown to be unstable, however, by Frege's famous substitution puzzle. For Frege, the crucial question the puzzle raises is why "The Morning Star is a planet" and "The Evening Star is a (...) planet" have different contents, but his second position predicts that they should have the same content. Frege's response to this antinomy is of course to distinguish sense from reference, but what has not previously been noticed is that this response also requires thoughts to be compositionally complex, composed of senses. That, however, raises the question just how thoughts are composed from senses. We reconstruct a Fregean answer, one that turns on an insistence that this question must be understood as semantic rather than metaphysical. It is not a question about the intrinsic nature of residents of the third realm but a question about how thoughts are expressed by sentences. (shrink)
“Each and every important work of art leaves traces behind in its material and technique,” Theodor W. Adorno postulates in Aesthetic Theory, as he describes the way a composition is both a result of its own time and reacts critically to the time it belongs to. This quote demonstrates a reversal: rather than merely an expression or an outcome of an artist’s idea, art itself is regarded as a source for change. The work may come to affect its own (...) tools and materials and the social space around it. The primary question of this article is: what is it in musical composition that leaves the traces? This article attempts to move the focus away from discussion of finished works, and instead, depict how composition as a discipline engages in dialogue with its handcraft, historicity, and surrounding social world. I call this aspect of composition that possesses critical potential a lingering reflection. Slow and heteronomous in its nature, it presents a counterpoint to ideas that seem solid, are easily accessible and unquestioned. (shrink)
According to many, to have epistemic justification to believe P is just for it to be epistemically permissible to believe P. Others think it is for believing P to be epistemically good. Yet others think it has to do with being epistemically blameless in believing P. All such views of justification encounter problems. Here, a new view of justification is proposed according to which justification is a kind of composite normative status. The result is a view of justification that offers (...) hope of solving some longstanding epistemological problems. (shrink)