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Objects and Persons

New York: Oxford University Press (2001)

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  1. Why compositional nihilism dissolves puzzles.Holly Kantin - 2020 - Synthese 197 (10):4319-4340.
    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 (...)
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  • Mereological Nihilism: Quantum Atomism and the Impossibility of Material Constitution.Jeffrey Grupp - 2006 - Axiomathes 16 (3):245-386.
    Mereological nihilism is the philosophical position that there are no items that have parts. If there are no items with parts then the only items that exist are partless fundamental particles, such as the true atoms (also called philosophical atoms) theorized to exist by some ancient philosophers, some contemporary physicists, and some contemporary philosophers. With several novel arguments I show that mereological nihilism is the correct theory of reality. I will also discuss strong similarities that mereological nihilism has with empirical (...)
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  • Is Ontological Revisionism Uncharitable?Chris Daly & David Liggins - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (3):405-425.
    Some philosophers deny the existence of composite material objects. Other philosophers hold that whenever there are some things, they compose something. The purpose of this paper is to scrutinize an objection to these revisionary views: the objection that nihilism and universalism are both unacceptably uncharitable because each of them implies that a great deal of what we ordinarily believe is false. Our main business is to show how nihilism and universalism can be defended against the objection. A secondary point is (...)
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  • Expressivism Without Mentalism in Meta-Ontology.Mirco Sambrotta & Pedro Antonio García Jorge - 2018 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 26 (5):781-800.
    ABSTRACTCarnap famously argued that there are two kinds of questions and claims concerning the existence or reality of entities: internal and external ones. We focus on Carnapian external ontological claims of the form: ‘Xs really exist’, where ‘X’ stands for some traditional metaphysical category, such as ‘substance’, ‘fact’ or ‘structure’. While Carnap considered them as meaningless, we consider them as faultlessly meaningful. However, in line with an expressivist guise, we do not claim that they have the meaning they have in (...)
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  • Overdetermination and Elimination.Steinvör Thöll Árnadóttir - 2015 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 23 (4):479-503.
    I focus on two arguments, due to Jaegwon Kim and Trenton Merricks, that move from claims about the sufficiency of one class of causes to the reduction or elimination of another class of entity, via claims about overdetermination. I argue that in order to validate their move from sufficiency to reduction or elimination, both Kim and Merricks must assume that there can be no ‘weak overdetermination’; i.e., that no single effect can have numerically distinct but dependently sufficient causes occurring at (...)
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  • Two solutions to the neural discernment problem.Bradford Saad - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (10):2837-2850.
    Interactionists hold that minds are non-physical objects that interact with brains. The neural discernment problem for interactionism is that of explaining how non-physical minds produce behavior and cognition by exercising different causal powers over physiologically similar neurons. This paper sharpens the neural discernment problem and proposes two interactionist models of mind-brain interaction that solve it. One model avoids overdetermination while the other respects the causal closure of the physical domain.
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  • Computational Models of Emergent Properties.John Symons - 2008 - Minds and Machines 18 (4):475-491.
    Computational modeling plays an increasingly important explanatory role in cases where we investigate systems or problems that exceed our native epistemic capacities. One clear case where technological enhancement is indispensable involves the study of complex systems.1 However, even in contexts where the number of parameters and interactions that define a problem is small, simple systems sometimes exhibit non-linear features which computational models can illustrate and track. In recent decades, computational models have been proposed as a way to assist us in (...)
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  • What is a Complex System?James Ladyman, James Lambert & Karoline Wiesner - 2013 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (1):33-67.
    Complex systems research is becoming ever more important in both the natural and social sciences. It is commonly implied that there is such a thing as a complex system, different examples of which are studied across many disciplines. However, there is no concise definition of a complex system, let alone a definition on which all scientists agree. We review various attempts to characterize a complex system, and consider a core set of features that are widely associated with complex systems in (...)
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  • A New Puppet Puzzle.Andrew M. Bailey & Joshua Rasmussen - 2020 - Philosophical Explorations 23 (3):202-213.
    We develop a new puzzle concerning a material being's relationship to the smallest parts of the material world. In particular, we investigate how a being could be responsible for anything if its be...
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  • Debunking Rationalist Defenses of Common-Sense Ontology: An Empirical Approach.Robert Carry Osborne - 2016 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (1):197-221.
    Debunking arguments typically attempt to show that a set of beliefs or other intensional mental states bear no appropriate explanatory connection to the facts they purport to be about. That is, a debunking argument will attempt to show that beliefs about p are not held because of the facts about p. Such beliefs, if true, would then only be accidentally so. Thus, their causal origins constitute an undermining defeater. Debunking arguments arise in various philosophical domains, targeting beliefs about morality, the (...)
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  • Against Grounding Necessitarianism.Alexander Skiles - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (4):717-751.
    Can there be grounding without necessitation? Can a fact obtain wholly in virtue of metaphysically more fundamental facts, even though there are possible worlds at which the latter facts obtain but not the former? It is an orthodoxy in recent literature about the nature of grounding, and in first-order philosophical disputes about what grounds what, that the answer is no. I will argue that the correct answer is yes. I present two novel arguments against grounding necessitarianism, and show that grounding (...)
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  • Defending Contingentism in Metaphysics.Kristie Miller - 2009 - Dialectica 63 (1):23-49.
    Metaphysics is supposed to tell us about the metaphysical nature of our world: under what conditions composition occurs; how objects persist through time; whether properties are universals or tropes. It is near orthodoxy that whichever of these sorts of metaphysical claims is true is necessarily true. This paper looks at the debate between that orthodox view and a recently emerging view that claims like these are contingent, by focusing on the metaphysical debate between monists and pluralists about concrete particulars. This (...)
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  • The Contingency of Composition.Ross P. Cameron - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (1):99-121.
    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 composition as (...)
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  • Composition as Identity: A Study in Ontology and Philosophical Logic.Einar Bohn - unknown
    In this work I first develop, motivate, and defend the view that mereological composition, the relation between an object and all its parts collectively, is a relation of identity. I argue that this view implies and hence can explain the logical necessity of classical mereology, the formal study of the part-whole relation. I then critically discuss four contemporary views of the same kind. Finally, I employ my thesis in a recent discussion of whether the world is fundamentally one in number.
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  • Ostrich Presentism.Giuliano Torrengo - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 170 (2):255-276.
    Ostrich presentists maintain that we can use all the expressive resources of the tensed language to provide an explanation of why true claims about the past are true, without thereby paying any price in terms of ontology or basic ideology. I clarify the position by making a distinction between three kinds of explanation, which has general interest and applicability. I then criticize the ostrich position because it requires an unconstrained version of the third form of explanation, which is out of (...)
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  • The Constitution Question.Ryan Wasserman - 2004 - Noûs 38 (4):693 - 710.
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  • The Supervenience Solution to the Too-Many-Thinkers Problem.C. S. Sutton - 2014 - Philosophical Quarterly 64 (257):619-639.
    Persons think. Bodies, time-slices of persons, and brains might also think. They have the necessary neural equipment. Thus, there seems to be more than one thinker in your chair. Critics assert that this is too many thinkers and that we should reject ontologies that allow more than one thinker in your chair. I argue that cases of multiple thinkers are innocuous and that there is not too much thinking. Rather, the thinking shared between, for example, persons and their bodies is (...)
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  • Maximality and Microphysical Supervenience.Theodore Sider - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (1):139-149.
    A property, F, is maximal i?, roughly, large parts of an F are not themselves Fs. Maximal properties are typically extrinsic, for their instantiation by x depends on what larger things x is part of. This makes trouble for a recent argument against microphysical superve- nience by Trenton Merricks. The argument assumes that conscious- ness is an intrinsic property, whereas consciousness is in fact maximal and extrinsic.
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  • On Three Arguments Against Endurantism.Greg Janzen - 2011 - Metaphysica 12 (2):101-115.
    Judith Thomson, David Lewis, and Ted Sider have each formulated different arguments that apparently pose problems for our ordinary claims of diachronic sameness, i.e., claims in which we assert that familiar, concrete objects survive (or persist) through time by enduring as numerically the same entity despite minor changes in their intrinsic or relational properties. In this paper, I show that all three arguments fail in a rather obvious way--they beg the question--and so even though there may be arguments that provide (...)
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  • Undermining Motivations for Universalism.Nikk Effingham - 2011 - Noûs 45 (4):696-713.
    Universalism (the thesis that for any ys, those ys compose a further object) is an answer to the Special Composition Question. In the literature there are three arguments – what I call the arguments from elegance – that universalists often rely upon, but which are rarely examined in-depth. I argue that these motivations cannot be had by the perdurantist, for to avoid a commitment to badly behaved superluminal objects perdurantists must answer the ‘Proper Continuant Question’. Any answer to that question (...)
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  • Fundamental Indeterminacy.Elizabeth Barnes - 2014 - Analytic Philosophy 55 (4):339-362.
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  • Esistenza e Persistenza.Damiano Costa - 2018 - Milan, IT: Mimesis.
    Nel nostro universo, qualunque cosa, dalla più piccola particella alla più smisurata galassia, esiste in un qualche tempo e in un qualche luogo. Ma cosa significa esistere in un qualche tempo? Il fenomeno dell’esistenza temporale gioca un ruolo fondamentale nella comprensione dell’universo e di noi stessi quali creature temporali. Eppure è un fenomeno profondamente misterioso. L’esistenza temporale è da intendersi come una relazione? Che legami ha con l’esistenza dell’ontologia? L’esistenza temporale e la localizzazione spaziale sono due fenomeni essenzialmente differenti o (...)
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  • Unrestricted Animalism and the Too Many Candidates Problem.Eric Yang - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (3):635-652.
    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 (...)
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  • In Dialogue with Augustine’s Soliloquia. Interpreting and Recovering a Theory of Illumination.Anthony Dupont & Matthew W. Knotts - 2013 - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 74 (5):432-465.
    The task of this article is a two-fold approach to Augustine’s theory of knowledge, often called that of ‘divine illumination’, with particular attention to one of its seminal sources, his Soliloquia. The first approach is historical- and text-critical; we consider the text of the Soliloquia, its meaning and significance, the questions to which Augustine was implicitly responding at the time, and especially how this work broaches themes which are revisited and further developed in Augustine’s later works. In the second part, (...)
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  • Against Mereological Nihilism.Jonathan Tallant - 2014 - Synthese 191 (7):1511-1527.
    I argue that mereological nihilism fails because it cannot answer the special arrangement question: when is it true that the xs are arranged F-wise? I suggest that the answers given in the literature fail and that the obvious responses that could be made look to undermine the motivations for adopting nihilism in the first place.
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  • Fundamental and Derivative Truths.J. R. G. Williams - 2010 - Mind 119 (473):103 - 141.
    This article investigates the claim that some truths are fundamentally or really true — and that other truths are not. Such a distinction can help us reconcile radically minimal metaphysical views with the verities of common sense. I develop an understanding of the distinction whereby Fundamentality is not itself a metaphysical distinction, but rather a device that must be presupposed to express metaphysical distinctions. Drawing on recent work by Rayo on anti-Quinean theories of ontological commitments, I formulate a rigourous theory (...)
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  • Composition is Identity and Mereological Nihilism.Claudio Calosi - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263):219-235.
    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.
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  • The Challenge to Nihilism.Harold Noonan - 2019 - Analytic Philosophy 60 (1):55-66.
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  • Grounding and the Myth of Ontological Innocence.Jonathan Barker - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-16.
    According to the Ontological Innocence Thesis (OIT), grounded entities are ontologically innocent relative to their full grounds. I argue that OIT entails a contradiction, and therefore must be discarded. My argument turns on the notion of “groundmates,” two or more numerically distinct entities that share at least one of their full grounds. I argue that, if OIT is true, then it is both the case that there are groundmates and that there are no groundmates. Therefore, so I conclude, OIT is (...)
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  • Virtual Reality: Digital or Fictional?Neil McDonnell & Nathan Wildman - 2019 - Disputatio 11 (55):371-397.
    Are the objects and events that take place in Virtual Reality genuinely real? Those who answer this question in the affirmative are realists, and those who answer in the negative are irrealists. In this paper we argue against the realist position, as given by Chalmers, and present our own preferred irrealist account of the virtual. We start by disambiguating two potential versions of the realist position—weak and strong— and then go on to argue that neither is plausible. We then introduce (...)
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  • Kim’s Dilemma: Why Mental Causation is Not Productive.Andrew Russo - 2016 - Synthese 193 (7):2185-2203.
    Loewer has argued that the nonreductive physicalist should respond to the exclusion problem by endorsing the overdetermination entailed by their view. Kim’s argument against this reply is based on the premise that mental causation must be a productive relation in order to sustain human agency. In this paper, I challenge the premise that mental causation is a productive relation by appealing to the underlying double prevention structure of the physiological mechanisms of human action. Since the causal pathways from an agent’s (...)
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  • Intensional Composition as Identity.Manuel Lechthaler - 2020 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 97 (2):294-318.
    Composition as Identity claims that a composite object is identical to its parts taken collectively. This is often understood as reducing the identity of composite objects to the identity of their parts. The author argues that Composition as Identity is not such a reduction. His central claim is that an intensional notion of composition, which is sensitive to the arrangement of the composing objects, avoids criticisms based on an extensional understanding of composition. The key is to understand composition as an (...)
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  • Ontological Innocence.Katherine Hawley - 2014 - In A. J. Cotnoir & Donald L. M. Baxter (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press. pp. 70-89.
    In this chapter, I examine Lewis's ideas about ontological innocence, ontological commitment and double-counting, in his discussion of composition as identity in Parts of Classes. I attempt to understand these primarily as epistemic or methodological claims: how far can we get down this route without adopting radical metaphysical theses about composition as identity?
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  • Could a Middle Level Be the Most Fundamental?Sara Bernstein - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-14.
    Debates over what is fundamental assume that what is most fundamental must be either a “top” level (roughly, the biggest or highest-level thing), or a “bottom” level (roughly, the smallest or lowest-level things). Here I sketch an alternative to top-ism and bottom-ism, the view that a middle level could be the most fundamental, and argue for its plausibility. I then suggest that the view satisfies the desiderata of asymmetry, irreflexivity, transitivity, and well-foundedness of fundamentality, that the view has explanatory power (...)
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  • The Impossibility of Temporal Relations Between Non-Identical Times: New Arguments for Presentism.Jeffrey Grupp - 2005 - Disputatio 1 (18):1-35.
    I argue that relations between non-identical times, such as the relations, earlier than, later than, or 10 seconds apart, involve contradiction, and only co-temporal relations are non-contradictory, which would leave presentism the only non-contradictory theory of time. The arguments I present are arguments that I have not seen in the literature.
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  • Simples and Gunk.Hud Hudson - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (2):291–302.
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  • What Photographs Are (and What They Are Not).Jiri Benovsky - 2011 - Disputatio 4 (31):239 - 254.
    For the metaphysician, photographs are very puzzling entities indeed. And even from the non-philosopher's intuitive point of view, it is not that clear what sort of thing a photograph is. Typically, if a client wants to purchase a photograph, she can mean very different things by 'buying a photograph' : she can mean to buy a print or a number of prints, or she can mean to buy a negative (when traditional film photographs are concerned) or a file (when digital (...)
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  • Can an Appeal to Constitution Solve the Exclusion Problem.Alyssa Ney - 2007 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (4):486–506.
    Jaegwon Kim has argued that unless mental events are reducible to subvening physical events, they are at best overdeterminers of their effects. Recently, nonreductive physicalists have endorsed this consequence claiming that the relationship between mental events and their physical bases is tight enough to render any such overdetermination nonredundant, and hence benign. I focus on instances of this strategy that appeal to the notion of constitution. Ultimately, I argue that there is no way to understand the relationship between irreducible mental (...)
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  • Exclusion Again.Karen Bennett - 2008 - In Jakob Hohwy & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation. Oxford University Press. pp. 280--307.
    I think that there is an awful lot wrong with the exclusion problem. So, it seems, does just about everybody else. But of course everyone disagrees about exactly _what_ is wrong with it, and I think there is more to be said about that. So I propose to say a few more words about why the exclusion problem is not really a problem after all—at least, not for the nonreductive physicalist. The genuine _dualist_ is still in trouble. Indeed, one of (...)
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  • Overdetermination Underdetermined.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (1):17-40.
    Widespread causal overdetermination is often levied as an objection to nonreductive theories of minds and objects. In response, nonreductive metaphysicians have argued that the type of overdetermination generated by their theories is different from the sorts of coincidental cases involving multiple rock-throwers, and thus not problematic. This paper pushes back. I argue that attention to differences between types of overdetermination discharges very few explanatory burdens, and that overdetermination is a bigger problem for the nonreductive metaphysician than previously thought.
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  • No Work for a Theory of Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):535-579.
    It has recently been suggested that a distinctive metaphysical relation— ‘Grounding’—is ultimately at issue in contexts in which some goings-on are said to hold ‘in virtue of’’, be ‘metaphysically dependent on’, or be ‘nothing over and above’ some others. Grounding is supposed to do good work in illuminating metaphysical dependence. I argue that Grounding is also unsuited to do this work. To start, Grounding alone cannot do this work, for bare claims of Grounding leave open such basic questions as whether (...)
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  • Modal Realism and the Possibility of Island Universes: Why There Are No Possible Worlds.Jiri Benovsky - forthcoming - Metaphysica.
    I defend Lewisian modal realism against objections arising from the possibility of 'Island Universes' and other similar cases. The problem comes from Lewis' claim that possible worlds are spatio-temporally isolated. I suggest a modification of Lewisian modal realism in order to avoid this family of objections. This modification may sound quite radical since it amounts to abandoning the very notion of a possible world, but as radical as it may sound it in fact remains well in the spirit of Lewis' (...)
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  • Toward a Commonsense Answer to the Special Composition Question.Chad Carmichael - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (3):475-490.
    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 (...)
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  • The Super-Overdetermination Problem.John Donaldson - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Glasgow
    I examine the debate between reductive and non-reductive physicalists, and conclude that if we are to be physicalists, then we should be reductive physicalists. I assess how both reductionists and non-reductionists try to solve the mind-body problem and the problem of mental causation. I focus on the problem of mental causation as it is supposed to be faced by non-reductionism: the so-called overdetermination problem. I argue that the traditional articulation of that problem is significantly flawed, and I show how to (...)
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  • Composition.Daniel Z. Korman & Chad Carmichael - 2016 - Oxford Handbooks Online.
    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 (...)
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  • No Physical Particles for a Dispositional Monist?Baptiste Le Bihan - 2015 - Philosophical Papers 44 (2):207-232.
    A dispositional monist believes that all properties are essentially causal. Recently, an overdetermination argument has been proposed by Trenton Merricks to support nihilism about ordinary objects. I argue that this argument can be extended to target both nihilism about ordinary objects and nihilism about physical particles when dispositional monism is assumed. It implies that a philosopher who both endorses dispositional monism and takes seriously the overdetermination argument should not believe in the existence of physical particles. I end up by discussing (...)
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  • Against Universal Mereological Composition.Crawford Elder - 2008 - Dialectica 62 (4):433-454.
    This paper opposes universal mereological composition (UMC). Sider defends it: unless UMC were true, he says, it could be indeterminate how many objects there are in the world. I argue that there is no general connection between how widely composition occurs and how many objects there are in the world. Sider fails to support UMC. I further argue that we should disbelieve in UMC objects. Existing objections against them say that they are radically unlike Aristotelian substances. True, but there is (...)
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  • Causal Overdetermination and Kim’s Exclusion Argument.Michael Roche - 2014 - Philosophia 42 (3):809-826.
    Jaegwon Kim’s influential exclusion argument attempts to demonstrate the inconsistency of nonreductive materialism in the philosophy of mind. Kim’s argument begins by showing that the three main theses of nonreductive materialism, plus two additional considerations, lead to a specific and familiar picture of mental causation. The exclusion argument can succeed only if, as Kim claims, this picture is not one of genuine causal overdetermination. Accordingly, one can resist Kim’s conclusion by denying this claim, maintaining instead that the effects of the (...)
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  • Composition as Identity: Part 1.Megan B. Wallace - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (11):804-816.
    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 (...)
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  • Folk Mereology is Teleological.David Rose & Jonathan Schaffer - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):238-270.
    When do the folk think that mereological composition occurs? Many metaphysicians have wanted a view of composition that fits with folk intuitions, and yet there has been little agreement about what the folk intuit. We aim to put the tools of experimental philosophy to constructive use. Our studies suggest that folk mereology is teleological: people tend to intuit that composition occurs when the result serves a purpose. We thus conclude that metaphysicians should dismiss folk intuitions, as tied into a benighted (...)
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