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Parts: A Study in Ontology

Oxford University Press (1987)

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  1. Essence, Modality, and Intrinsicality.Gaétan Bovey - 2021 - Synthese 198 (8):7715-7737.
    Kit Fine famously objected against the idea that essence can be successfully analyzed in terms of de re necessity. In response, I want to explore a novel, interesting, but controversial modal account of essence in terms of intrinsicality and grounding. In the first section, I will single out two theoretical requirements that any essentialist theory should meet—the essentialist desideratum and the essentialist challenge—in order to clarify Fine’s objections. In the second section, I will assess Denby’s improved modal account, which appeals (...)
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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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  • The Location of Properties.Nikk Effingham - 2015 - Noûs 49 (4):846-866.
    This paper argues that, assuming properties exist and must be located in spacetime, the prevailing view that they are exactly located where their instances are is false. Instead a property is singularly located at just one region, namely the union of its instance's locations. This bears not just on issues in the metaphysics of properties, but also on the debate over whether multi-location is conceivable and/or possible.
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  • Plurals and Mereology.Salvatore Florio & David Nicolas - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (3):415-445.
    In linguistics, the dominant approach to the semantics of plurals appeals to mereology. However, this approach has received strong criticisms from philosophical logicians who subscribe to an alternative framework based on plural logic. In the first part of the article, we offer a precise characterization of the mereological approach and the semantic background in which the debate can be meaningfully reconstructed. In the second part, we deal with the criticisms and assess their logical, linguistic, and philosophical significance. We identify four (...)
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  • Is Mereology Ontologically Innocent? Well, It Depends….Christian Feldbacher-Escamilla - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (2):395-424.
    Mereology, the theory of parts and wholes, is sometimes used as a framework for categorisation because it is regarded as ontologically innocent in the sense that the mereological fusion of some entities is nothing over and above the entities. In this paper it is argued that an adequate answer to the question of whether the thesis of the ontological innocence of mereology holds relies crucially on the underlying theory of reference. It is then shown that upholding the thesis comes at (...)
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  • What is it to be located?Matt Leonard - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-19.
    The literature suggests two main answers to the question of what it is for a material object to be located at a region of spacetime. Both have a number of virtues. However, both suffer from well-known problems. According to one answer, location is a primitive relation with no informative metaphysical analysis. But this makes a number of necessary truths seem mysterious and leaves them unexplained. According to the other answer, to be located at a region is just to be identical (...)
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  • Is absence of evidence of pain ever evidence of absence?Deborah J. Brown & Brian Key - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    Absence of evidence arguments are indispensable to comparative neurobiology. The absence in a given species of a homologous neural architecture strongly correlated with a type of conscious experience in humans should be able to be taken as a prima facie reason for concluding that the species in question does not have the capacity for that conscious experience. Absence of evidence reasoning is, however, widely disparaged for being both logically illicit and unscientific. This paper argues that these concerns are unwarranted. There (...)
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  • A Novel Interpretation of Plato’s Theory of Forms.P. X. Monaghan - 2010 - Metaphysica 11 (1):63-78.
    In several recent issues of this journal, I argued for an account of property possession as strict, numerical identity. While this account has stuck some as being highly idiosyncratic in nature, it is not entirely something new under the sun, since as I will argue in this paper, it turns out to have a historic precedent in Plato⠀™ s theory of forms. Indeed, the purpose of this paper is twofold. The first is to show that my account of property (...)
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  • Endurance Per Se in B-Time.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2009 - Metaphysica 10 (2):175-183.
    Three arguments for the conclusion that objects cannot endure in B-time even if they remain intrinsically unchanged are examined: Carter and Hestevolds enduring-objects-as-universals argument (American Philosophical Quarterly 31(4):269-283, 1994) and Barker and Dowe's paradox 1 and paradox 2 (Analysis 63(2):106-114, 2003, Analysis 65(1):69-74, 2005). All three are shown to fail.
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  • Persistence of Simple Substances.Markku Keinänen & Jani Hakkarainen - 2010 - Metaphysica 11 (2):119-135.
    In this paper, we argue for a novel three-dimensionalist solution to the problem of persistence, i.e. cross-temporal identity. We restrict the discussion of persistence to simple substances, which do not have other substances as their parts. The account of simple substances employed in the paper is a trope-nominalist strong nuclear theory, which develops Peter Simons' trope nominalism. Regarding the distinction between three dimensionalism and four dimensionalism, we follow Michael Della Rocca's formulation, in which 3D explains persistence in virtue of same (...)
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  • Proof of the Existence of Universals—and Roman Ingarden’s Ontology.Ingvar Johansson - 2009 - Metaphysica 10 (1):65-87.
    The paper ends with an argument that says: necessarily, if there are finitely spatially extended particulars, then there are monadic universals. Before that, in order to characterize the distinction between particulars and universals, Roman Ingarden’s notions of existential moments and modes (ways) of being are presented, and a new pair of such existential moments is introduced: multiplicity–monadicity. Also, it is argued that there are not only real universals, but instances of universals (tropes) and fictional universals too.
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  • Properties That Four-Dimensional Objects Cannot Have.Ariel Meirav - 2009 - Metaphysica 10 (2):135-148.
    The paper argues that four-dimensionalism is incompatible with the existence of additively cumulative properties, including mass, volume, and electrical charge. These properties add up over disjoint objects: for example, the mass of a whole composed of two disjoint objects is a sum of the individual masses of the objects. The difficulty with such properties for four-dimensionalism stems from the way this theory makes persistence depend on the existence of disjoint objects at disjoint times. I consider various possible responses to this (...)
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  • The Principle of Summation.Ariel Meirav - 2009 - Erkenntnis 71 (2):175-190.
    The principle of Summation, which is a technically sharpened version of the familiar claim that a whole is a sum of its parts, is presented by Peter van Inwagen as a trivial truth. I argue to the contrary, that it is incompatible with the natural assumption that a whole may gain or lose parts non-instantaneously. For, as I show, the latter assumption implies that something can be determinately a whole without being determinately a sum of parts, and this, in turn, (...)
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  • A Novel Category of Vague Abstracta.Jeffrey Goodman - 2007 - Metaphysica 8 (1):79-96.
    Much attention has been given to the question of ontic vagueness, and the issues usually center around whether certain paradigmatically concrete entities – cats, clouds, mountains, etc. – are vague in the sense of having indeterminate spatial boundaries. In this paper, however, I wish to focus on a way in which some abstracta seem to be locationally vague. To begin, I will briefly cover some territory already covered regarding certain types of “traditional” abstracta and the ways they are currently alleged (...)
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  • Mereological Essentialism Restricted.Dallas Willard - 1994 - Axiomathes 5 (1):123-144.
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  • The Disappearance of Change: Towards a Process Account of Persistence.Anne Sophie Meincke - 2019 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 27 (1):12-30.
    This paper aims to motivate a new beginning in metaphysical thinking about persistence by drawing attention to the disappearance of change in current accounts of persistence. I defend the claim that the debate is stuck in a dilemma which results from neglecting the constructive role of change for persistence. Neither of the two main competing views, perdurantism and endurantism, captures the idea of persistence as an identity through time. I identify the fundamental ontological reasons for this, namely the shared commitment (...)
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  • Some Stuffs Are Not Sums of Stuff.David Barnett - 2004 - Philosophical Review 113 (1):89-100.
    Milk, sand, plastic, uranium, wood, carbon, and oil are kinds of stuff. The sand in Hawaii, the uranium in North Korea, and the oil in Iraq are portions of stuff. Not everyone believes in portions of stuff.1 Those who do are likely to agree that, whatever their more specific natures, portions of stuff can at least be identified with mereological sums of their subportions.2 It seems after all trivial that a given portion of stuff just is all of its subportions (...)
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  • Kant’s Philosophy of Mathematics and the Greek Mathematical Tradition.Daniel Sutherland - 2004 - Philosophical Review 113 (2):157-201.
    The aggregate EIRP of an N-element antenna array is proportional to N 2. This observation illustrates an effective approach for providing deep space networks with very powerful uplinks. The increased aggregate EIRP can be employed in a number of ways, including improved emergency communications, reaching farther into deep space, increased uplink data rates, and the flexibility of simultaneously providing more than one uplink beam with the array. Furthermore, potential for cost savings also exists since the array can be formed using (...)
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  • The Niche.Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi - 1999 - Noûs 33 (2):214-238.
    The concept of niche (setting, context, habitat, environment) has been little studied by ontologists, in spite of its wide application in a variety of disciplines from evolutionary biology to economics. What follows is a first formal theory of this concept, a theory of the relations between objects and their niches. The theory builds upon existing work on mereology, topology, and the theory of spatial location as tools of formal ontology. It will be illustrated above all by means of simple biological (...)
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  • Boundaries, Continuity, and Contact.Achille C. Varzi - 1997 - Noûs 31 (1):26-58.
    There are conflicting intuitions concerning the status of a boundary separating two adjacent entities (or two parts of the same entity). The boundary cannot belong to both things, for adjacency excludes overlap; and it cannot belong to neither, for nothing lies between two adjacent things. Yet how can the dilemma be avoided without assigning the boundary to one thing or the other at random? Some philosophers regard this as a reductio of the very notion of a boundary, which should accordingly (...)
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  • Numbers and Propositions Versus Nominalists: Yellow Cards for Salmon & Soames. [REVIEW]Rafal Urbaniak - 2012 - Erkenntnis 77 (3):381-397.
    Salmon and Soames argue against nominalism about numbers and sentence types. They employ (respectively) higher-order and first-order logic to model certain natural language inferences and claim that the natural language conclusions carry commitment to abstract objects, partially because their renderings in those formal systems seem to do that. I argue that this strategy fails because the nominalist can accept those natural language consequences, provide them with plausible and non-committing truth conditions and account for the inferences made without committing themselves to (...)
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  • No Time, No Wholes: A Temporal and Causal-Oriented Approach to the Ontology of Wholes. [REVIEW]Riccardo Manzotti - 2009 - Axiomathes 19 (2):193-214.
    What distinguishes a whole from an arbitrary sum of elements? I suggest a temporal and causal oriented approach. I defend two connected claims. The former is that existence is, by every means, coextensive with being the cause of a causal process. The latter is that a whole is the cause of a causal process with a joint effect. Thus, a whole is something that takes place in time. The approach endorses an unambiguous version of Restricted Composition that suits most commonsensical (...)
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  • Construction Area (No Hard Hat Required).Karen Bennett - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 154 (1):79-104.
    A variety of relations widely invoked by philosophers—composition, constitution, realization, micro-basing, emergence, and many others—are species of what I call ‘building relations’. I argue that they are conceptually intertwined, articulate what it takes for a relation to count as a building relation, and argue that—contra appearances—it is an open possibility that these relations are all determinates of a common determinable, or even that there is really only one building relation.
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  • Three Trope Theories.Paweł Rojek - 2008 - Axiomathes 18 (3):359-377.
    Universals are usually considered to be universal properties. Since tropes are particular properties, if there are only tropes, there are no universals. However, universals might be thought of not only as common properties, but also as common aspects (“determinable universals”) and common wholes (“concrete universals”). The existence of these two latter concepts of universals is fully compatible with the assumption that all properties are particular. This observation makes possible three different trope theories, which accept tropes and no universals, tropes and (...)
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  • Tropes and Ordinary Physical Objects.Kris McDaniel - 2001 - Philosophical Studies 104 (3):269-290.
    I argue that a solution to puzzles concerning the relationship ofobjects and their properties – a version of the `bundle' theory ofparticulars according to which ordinary objects are mereologicalfusions of monadic and relational tropes – is also a solution topuzzles of material constitution involving the allegedco-location of material objects. Additionally, two argumentsthat have played a prominent role in shaping the current debate,Mark Heller's argument for Four Dimensionalism and Peter vanInwagen's argument against Mereological Universalism, are shownto be unsound given this version (...)
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  • A Survival Guide to Fission.Mark Moyer - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 141 (3):299 - 322.
    The fission of a person involves what common sense describes as a single person surviving as two distinct people. Thus, say most metaphysicians, this paradox shows us that common sense is inconsistent with the transitivity of identity. Lewis’s theory of overlapping persons, buttressed with tensed identity, gives us one way to reconcile the common sense claims. Lewis’s account, however, implausibly says that reference to a person about to undergo fission is ambiguous. A better way to reconcile the claims of common (...)
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  • Part Structures in Situations: The Semantics of 'Individual' and 'Whole'.Friederike Moltmann - 2005 - Linguistics and Philosophy 28 (5):599 - 641.
    This paper develops the notion of a situated part structure and applies it to the semantics of the modifiers 'whole' and 'individual'. It argues that the ambiguity of 'whole' should be traced to two different conceptions of part structures of objects being at play: one according to which the parts of an objects are just the material parts and another, Aristotelian conception according to which the parts of an object include properties of form.
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  • Summation Relations and Portions of Stuff.Maureen Donnelly & Thomas Bittner - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 143 (2):167 - 185.
    According to the prevalent 'sum view' of stuffs, each portion of stuff is a mereological sum of its subportions. The purpose of this paper is to re-examine the sum view in the light of a modal temporal mereology which distinguishes between different varieties of summation relations. While admitting David Barnett's recent counter-example to the sum view, we show that there is nonetheless an important sense in which all portions of stuff are sums of their subportions. We use our summation relations (...)
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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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  • Biological-Mereological Coincidence.Judith K. Crane - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 161 (2):309-325.
    This paper presents and defends an account of the coincidence of biological organisms with mereological sums of their material components. That is, an organism and the sum of its material components are distinct material objects existing in the same place at the same time. Instead of relying on historical or modal differences to show how such coincident entities are distinct, this paper argues that there is a class of physiological properties of biological organisms that their coincident mereological sums do not (...)
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  • The Conceptual Elusiveness of Engineering Functions. [REVIEW]Pieter E. Vermaas, Dingmar Eck & Peter Kroes - 2013 - Philosophy and Technology 26 (2):159-185.
    In this paper, we describe the conceptual elusiveness of the notion of function as used in engineering practice. We argue that it should be accepted as an ambiguous notion, and then review philosophical argumentations in which engineering functions occur in order to identify the consequences of this ambiguity. Function is a key notion in engineering, yet is used by engineers systematically in a variety of meanings. First, we demonstrate that this ambiguous use is rational for engineers by considering the role (...)
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  • Sharing the Background.Titus Stahl - 2013 - In Michael Schmitz, Beatrice Kobow & Hans Bernhard Schmid (eds.), The Background of Social Reality. Springer. pp. 127--146.
    In regard to the explanation of actions that are governed by institutional rules, John R. Searle introduces the notion of a mental “background” that is supposed to explain how persons can acquire the capacity of following such rules. I argue that Searle’s internalism about the mind and the resulting poverty of his conception of the background keep him from putting forward a convincing explanation of the normative features of institutional action. Drawing on competing conceptions of the background of Heidegger and (...)
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  • A Mereological Look at Motion.Erdinç Sayan - 1996 - Philosophical Studies 84 (1):75 - 89.
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  • Intuitionistic Mereology.Paolo Maffezioli & Achille C. Varzi - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    Two mereological theories are presented based on a primitive apartness relation along with binary relations of mereological excess and weak excess, respectively. It is shown that both theories are acceptable from the standpoint of constructive reasoning while remaining faithful to the spirit of classical mereology. The two theories are then compared and assessed with regard to their extensional import.
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  • Maximalism and the Structure of Acts.Campbell Brown - 2018 - Noûs (4):752-771.
    Suppose we believe that a property F is coextensive with moral permissibility. F may be, for example, the property of having the best consequences, if we are Consequentialists, or that of conforming to a universalisable maxim, if we are Kantians, and so on. This may raise the following problem. It is plausible that permissibility is “closed under implication”: any act that is implied by a permissible act must itself be permissible. Yet, in some cases, F might not be closed under (...)
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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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  • Endurantism Vs. Perdurantism?: A Debate Reconsidered.Ofra Magidor - 2016 - Noûs 50 (3):509-532.
    One of the central debates in contemporary metaphysics has been the debate between endurantism and perdurantism about persistence. In this paper I argue that much of this debate has been misconstrued: most of the arguments in the debate crucially rely on theses which are strictly orthogonal to the endurantism/perdurantism debate. To show this, I note that the arguments in the endurantism/perdurantism debate typically take the following form: one presents a challenge that endurantists allegedly have some trouble addressing, and to which (...)
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  • Does Universalism Entail Extensionalism?Aaron Cotnoir - 2016 - Noûs 50 (1):121-132.
    Does a commitment to mereological universalism automatically bring along a commitment to the controversial doctrine of mereological extensionalism—the view that objects with the same proper parts are identical? A recent argument suggests the answer is ‘yes’. This paper attempts a systematic response to the argument, considering nearly every available line of reply. It argues that only one approach—the mutual parts view—can yield a viable mereology where universalism does not entail extensionalism.
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  • The Naive Topology of the Conscious Subject.Rory Madden - 2015 - Noûs 49 (1):55-70.
    What does our naïve conception of a conscious subject demand of the nature of conscious beings? In a series of recent papers David Barnett has argued that a range of powerful intuitions in the philosophy of mind are best explained by the hypothesis that our naïve conception imposes a requirement of mereological simplicity on the nature of conscious beings. It is argued here that there is a much more plausible explanation of the intuitions in question. Our naïve conception of a (...)
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  • Part‐Intrinsicality.J. Robert G. Williams - 2013 - Noûs 47 (3):431-452.
    In some sense, survival seems to be an intrinsic matter. Whether or not you survive some event seems to depend on what goes on with you yourself —what happens in the environment shouldn’t make a difference. Likewise, being a person at a time seems intrinsic. The principle that survival seems intrinsic is one factor which makes personal fission puzzles so awkward. Fission scenarios present cases where if survival is an intrinsic matter, it appears that an individual could survive twice over. (...)
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  • Why We Shouldn't Swallow Worm Slices: A Case Study in Semantic Accommodation.Mark Moyer - 2008 - Noûs 42 (1):109–138.
    A radical metaphysical theory typically comes packaged with a semantic theory that reconciles those radical claims with common sense. The metaphysical theory says what things exist and what their natures are, while the semantic theory specifies, in terms of these things, how we are to interpret everyday language. Thus may we “think with the learned, and speak with the vulgar.” This semantic accommodation of common sense, however, can end up undermining the very theory it is designed to protect. This paper (...)
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  • Temporal Parts and Timeless Parthood.Eric T. Olson - 2006 - Noûs 40 (4):738–752.
    What is a temporal part? Most accounts explain it in terms of timeless parthood: a thing's having a part without temporal qualification. Some find this hard to understand, and thus find the view that persisting things have temporal parts--fourdimensionalism--unintelligible. T. Sider offers to help by defining temporal parthood in terms of a thing's having a part at a time. I argue that no such account can capture the notion of a temporal part that figures in orthodox four-dimensionalism: temporal parts must (...)
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  • Coincidence as Overlap.L. A. Paul - 2006 - Noûs 40 (4):623–659.
    I discuss puzzles involving coinciding material objects (such as statues and their constitutive lumps of clay) and propose solutions.
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  • The 3d/4d Controversy: A Storm in a Teacup.Storrs McCall & E. J. Lowe - 2006 - Noûs 40 (3):570–578.
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  • Mereological Nihilism and Theoretical Unification.Andrew Brenner - 2015 - Analytic Philosophy 56 (4):318-337.
    Mereological nihilism (henceforth just "nihilism") is the thesis that composition never occurs. Nihilism has often been defended on the basis of its theoretical simplicity, including its ontological simplicity and its ideological simplicity (roughly, nihilism's ability to do without primitive mereological predicates). In this paper I defend nihilism on the basis of the theoretical unification conferred by nihilism, which is, roughly, nihilism's capacity to allow us to take fewer phenomena as brute and inexplicable. This represents a respect in which nihilism enjoys (...)
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  • The (Multiple) Realization of Psychological and Other Properties in the Sciences.Kenneth Aizawa & Carl Gillett - 2009 - Mind and Language 24 (2):181-208.
    Abstract: There has recently been controversy over the existence of 'multiple realization' in addition to some confusion between different conceptions of its nature. To resolve these problems, we focus on concrete examples from the sciences to provide precise accounts of the scientific concepts of 'realization' and 'multiple realization' that have played key roles in recent debates in the philosophy of science and philosophy of psychology. We illustrate the advantages of our view over a prominent rival account ( Shapiro, 2000 and (...)
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  • Actions as Processes.Helen Steward - 2012 - Philosophical Perspectives 26 (1):373-388.
    The paper argues that actions should be thought of as processes and not events. A number of reasons are offered for thinking that the things that it is most plausible to suppose we are trying to cotton on to with the generic talk of ‘actions’ in which philosophy indulges cannot be events. A framework for thinking about the event-process distinction which can help us understand how we ought to think about the ontology of processes we need instead is then developed, (...)
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  • Extensionality for Fusions and Pluralities.Jeroen Smid - 2018 - Synthese:1-20.
    One of the more persistent debates in mereology is whether distinct wholes can have the same parts. Extensional mereologists hold that if there is no part that makes the difference, then there is nothing to distinguish the wholes, so sameness of parts implies identity. Non-extensionalists, however, do think there are cases where distinct wholes share all their parts. This paper argues that the kind of argument non-extensionalists employ can also be levelled against a widely accepted extensionality principle of plural logic. (...)
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  • Priority monism, dependence and fundamentality.Claudio Calosi - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (1):1-20.
    Priority monism is roughly the view that the universe is the only fundamental object, that is, a concrete object that does not depend on any other concrete object. Schaffer, the main advocate of PM, claims that PM is compatible with dependence having two different directions: from parts to wholes for subcosmic wholes, and from whole to parts for the cosmic whole. Recently it has been argued that this position is untenable. Given plausible assumptions about dependence, PM entails that dependence has (...)
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  • Enduring Simples and the Stages They Compose.Jacek Brzozowski - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
    In this article I introduce a hybrid view of persistence whereby simple objects persist by enduring while composite objects persist by being stage-related. I first show how, by sharing certain features and not others with the standard views of persistence, this hybrid view navigates two metaphysical problems that have been raised against such standard views. I then consider some implications of the view by addressing a couple of worries that may be raised against it. I conclude that this hybrid view (...)
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