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Brutal Composition

Philosophical Studies 92 (3):211 - 249 (1998)

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  1. 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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  • Vagueness, Multiplicity and Parts.Daniel P. Nolan - 2006 - Noûs 40 (4):716–737.
    There’s an argument around from so-called “linguistic theories of vagueness”, plus some relatively uncontroversial considerations, to powerful metaphysical conclusions. David Lewis employs this argument to support the mereological principle of unrestricted composition, and Theodore Sider employs a similar argument not just for unrestricted composition but also for the doctrine of temporal parts. This sort of argument could be generalised, to produce a lot of other less palatable metaphysical conclusions. However, arguments to Lewis’s and Sider’s conclusions on the basis of considerations (...)
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  • Building the World From its Fundamental Constituents.L. A. Paul - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 158 (2):221-256.
    In this paper, I argue that the spatiotemporalist approach way of modeling the fundamental constituents, structure, and composition of the world has taken a wrong turn. Spatiotemporalist approaches to fundamental structure take the fundamental nature of the world to be spatiotemporal: they take the category of spatiotemporal to be fundamental. I argue that the debates over the nature of the fundamental space in the physics show us that (i) the fact that it is conceivable that the manifest world could be (...)
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  • The Modal Status of Materialism.Joseph Levine & Kelly Trogdon - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 145 (3):351 - 362.
    Argument that Lewis and others are wrong that physicalism is if true then contingently true.
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  • Blocking the Vagueness Block - A New Restricted Answer to the Special Composition Question.Johan Gamper - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (2):425-428.
    The vagueness objection seems to block any moderate answer to the Special Composition Question leaving us with the two extreme alternatives that there either is no composite object or that any set of things compose an object. In this technical paper I introduce the notion of causal objects and a definition of a predicate that permits the set of all parts to be divided into equivalence classes. On this view we can use equivalence classes of parts to define the notion (...)
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  • A Relevance Constraint on Composition.David Vander Laan - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):135-145.
    Whether certain objects compose a whole at a given time does not seem to depend on anything other than the character of those objects and the relations between them. This observation suggests a far-reaching constraint on theories of composition. One version of the constraint has been explicitly adopted by van Inwagen and rules out his own answer to the composition question. The constraint also rules out the other well-known moderate answers that have so far been proposed.
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  • Topics in Philosophical Logic.Jon Erling Litland - 2012 - Dissertation, Harvard
    In “Proof-Theoretic Justification of Logic”, building on work by Dummett and Prawitz, I show how to construct use-based meaning-theories for the logical constants. The assertability-conditional meaning-theory takes the meaning of the logical constants to be given by their introduction rules; the consequence-conditional meaning-theory takes the meaning of the logical constants to be given by their elimination rules. I then consider the question: given a set of introduction rules \, what are the strongest elimination rules that are validated by an assertability (...)
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  • Combining Minds: A Defence of the Possibility of Experiential Combination.Luke Roelofs - 2015 - Dissertation, University of Toronto
    This thesis explores the possibility of composite consciousness: phenomenally conscious states belonging to a composite being in virtue of the consciousness of, and relations among, its parts. We have no trouble accepting that a composite being has physical properties entirely in virtue of the physical properties of, and relations among, its parts. But a long­standing intuition holds that consciousness is different: my consciousness cannot be understood as a complex of interacting component consciousnesses belonging to parts of me. I ask why: (...)
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  • What Do We Want to Know When We Ask the Simple Question?David Mark Kovacs - 2014 - Philosophical Quarterly 64 (255):254-266.
    The Simple Question (SQ) asks: “What are the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions any x must satisfy in order for it to be true that x is a simple?” The main motivation for asking SQ stems from the hope that it could teach us important lessons for material-object ontology. It is universally accepted that a proper answer to it has to be finite, complete and devoid of mereological expressions. This paper argues that we should stop treating SQ as the central (...)
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  • Mereological Nihilism and Personal Ontology.Andrew Brenner - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268).
    Mereological nihilists hold that composition never occurs, so that nothing is ever a proper part of anything else. Substance dualists generally hold that we are each identical with an immaterial soul. In this paper, I argue that every popular objection to substance dualism has a parallel objection to composition. This thesis has some interesting implications. First, many of those who reject composition, but accept substance dualism, or who reject substance dualism and accept composition, have some explaining to do. Secondly, one (...)
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  • Intuitive Knowledge.Elijah Chudnoff - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (2):359-378.
    In this paper I assume that we have some intuitive knowledge—i.e. beliefs that amount to knowledge because they are based on intuitions. The question I take up is this: given that some intuition makes a belief based on it amount to knowledge, in virtue of what does it do so? We can ask a similar question about perception. That is: given that some perception makes a belief based on it amount to knowledge, in virtue of what does it do so? (...)
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  • What Do the Folk Think About Composition and Does It Matter?Daniel Z. Korman & Chad Carmichael - 2017 - In David Rose (ed.), Experimental Metaphysics. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 187-206.
    Rose and Schaffer (forthcoming) argue that teleological thinking has a substantial influence on folk intuitions about composition. They take this to show (i) that we should not rely on folk intuitions about composition and (ii) that we therefore should not reject theories of composition on the basis of intuitions about composition. We cast doubt on the teleological interpretation of folk judgments about composition; we show how their debunking argument can be resisted, even on the assumption that folk intuitions have a (...)
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  • Composition as a Kind of Identity.Phillip Bricker - 2016 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (3):264-294.
    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 (...)
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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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  • Fundamental Quantification and the Language of the Ontology Room.Daniel Z. Korman - 2015 - Noûs 49 (2):298-321.
    Nihilism is the thesis that no composite objects exist. Some ontologists have advocated abandoning nihilism in favor of deep nihilism, the thesis that composites do not existO, where to existO is to be in the domain of the most fundamental quantifier. By shifting from an existential to an existentialO thesis, the deep nihilist seems to secure all the benefits of a composite-free ontology without running afoul of ordinary belief in the existence of composites. I argue that, while there are well-known (...)
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  • The Vagueness Argument Against Abstract Artifacts.Daniel Z. Korman - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (1):57-71.
    Words, languages, symphonies, fictional characters, games, and recipes are plausibly abstract artifacts— entities that have no spatial location and that are deliberately brought into existence as a result of creative acts. Many accept that composition is unrestricted: for every plurality of material objects, there is a material object that is the sum of those objects. These two views may seem entirely unrelated. I will argue that the most influential argument against restricted composition—the vagueness argument—doubles as an argument that there can (...)
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  • Music and Vague Existence.David Friedell - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (4):437-449.
    I explain a tension between musical creationism and the view that there is no vague existence. I then suggest ways to reconcile these views. My central conclusion is that, although some versions of musical creationism imply vague existence, others do not. I discuss versions of musical creationism held by Jerrold Levinson, Simon Evnine, and Kit Fine. I also present two new versions. I close by considering whether the tension is merely an instance of a general problem raised by artifacts, both (...)
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  • Mereological Nihilism and Puzzles About Material Objects.Bradley Rettler - forthcoming - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
    Mereological nihilism is the view that no objects have proper parts. Despite how counter‐intuitive it is, it is taken quite seriously, largely because it solves a number of puzzles in the metaphysics of material objects – or so its proponents claim. In this article, I show that for every puzzle that mereological nihilism solves, there is a similar puzzle that (a) it doesn’t solve, and (b) every other solution to the original puzzle does solve. Since the solutions to the new (...)
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  • Diachronic Metaphysical Building Relations: Towards the Metaphysics of Extended Cognition.Michael David Kirchhoff - 2014 - Dissertation, Macquarie University
    In the thesis I offer an analysis of the metaphysical underpinnings of the extended cognition thesis via an examination of standard views of metaphysical building (or, dependence) relations. -/- In summary form, the extended cognition thesis is a view put forth in naturalistic philosophy of mind stating that the physical basis of cognitive processes and cognitive processing may, in the right circumstances, be distributed across neural, bodily, and environmental vehicles. As such, the extended cognition thesis breaks substantially with the still (...)
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  • Parthood and Naturalness.M. Eddon - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):3163-3180.
    Is part of a perfectly natural, or fundamental, relation? Philosophers have been hesitant to take a stand on this issue. One reason for this hesitancy is the worry that, if parthood is perfectly natural, then the perfectly natural properties and relations are not suitably “independent” of one another. In this paper, I argue that parthood is a perfectly natural relation. In so doing, I argue that this “independence” worry is unfounded. I conclude by noting some consequences of the naturalness of (...)
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  • Composition and Identities.Manuel Lechthaler - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Otago
    Composition as Identity is the view that an object is identical to its parts taken collectively. I elaborate and defend a theory based on this idea: composition is a kind of identity. Since this claim is best presented within a plural logic, I develop a formal system of plural logic. The principles of this system differ from the standard views on plural logic because one of my central claims is that identity is a relation which comes in a variety of (...)
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  • Multiple Actualities and Ontically Vague Identity.Robert Williams - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (230):134-154.
    Although the Evans argument against vague identity has been much discussed, proposah for blocking it have not so far satisfied general conditions which any solution ought to meet. Moreover, the relation between ontically vague identity and ontic vagueness more generally has not yet been satisfactorily addressed. I advocate a way of resisting the Evans argument which satisfies the conditions. To show how this approach can vindicate particular cases of ontically vague identity, I develop a framework for describing ontic vagueness in (...)
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  • Illusions of Gunk.J. Robert G. Williams - 2006 - Philosophical Perspectives 20 (1):493–513.
    Worlds where things divide forever ("gunk" worlds) are apparently conceivable. The conceivability of such scenarios has been used as an argument against "nihilist" or "near-nihilist" answers to the special composition question. I argue that the mereological nihilist has the resources to explain away the illusion that gunk is possible.
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  • Counting on Strong Composition as Identity to Settle the Special Composition Question.Joshua Spencer - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (4):857-872.
    Strong Composition as Identity is the thesis that necessarily, for any xs and any y, those xs compose y iff those xs are non-distributively identical to y. Some have argued against this view as follows: if some many things are non-distributively identical to one thing, then what’s true of the many must be true of the one. But since the many are many in number whereas the one is not, the many cannot be identical to the one. Hence is mistaken. (...)
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  • Vague Objects and the Problem of the Many.Thomas Sattig - 2013 - Metaphysica 14 (2):211-223.
    The problem of the many poses the task of explaining mereological indeterminacy of ordinary objects in a way that sustains our familiar practice of counting these objects. The aim of this essay is to develop a solution to the problem of the many that is based on an account of mereological indeterminacy as having its source in how ordinary objects are, independently of how we represent them. At the center of the account stands a quasi-hylomorphic ontology of ordinary objects as (...)
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  • Change, Temporal Parts, and the Argument From Vagueness.Achille C. Varzi - 2005 - Dialectica 59 (4):485–498.
    The so-called "argument from vagueness", the clearest formulation of which is to be found in Ted Sider’s book Four-dimensionalism, is arguably the most powerful and innovative argument recently offered in support of the view that objects are four-dimensional perdurants. The argument is defective--I submit--and in a number of ways that is worth looking into. But each "defect" corresponds to a model of change that is independently problematic and that can hardly be built into the common-sense picture of the world. So (...)
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  • Non-Qualitative Properties.Sam Cowling - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (2):275-301.
    The distinction between qualitative properties like mass and shape and non-qualitative properties like being Napoleon and being next to Obama is important, but remains largely unexamined. After discussing its theoretical significance and cataloguing various kinds of non-qualitative properties, I survey several views about the nature of this distinction and argue that all proposed reductive analyses of this distinction are unsatisfactory. I then defend primitivism, according to which the distinction resists reductive analysis.
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  • Principles of Composition and Criteria of Identity.Katherine Hawley - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (4):481 – 493.
    I argue that, despite van Inwagen’s pessimism about the task, it is worth looking for answers to his General Composition Question. Such answers or ‘principles of composition’ tell us about the relationship between an object and its parts. I compare principles of composition with criteria of identity, arguing that, just as different sorts of thing satisfy different criteria of identity, they may satisfy different principles of composition. Variety in criteria of identity is not taken to reflect ontological variety in the (...)
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  • The Ontological Parsimony of Mereology.Jeroen Smid - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (12):3253-3271.
    Lewis famously argued that mereology is ontologically innocent. Many who have considered this claim believe he was mistaken. Mereology is not innocent, because its acceptance entails the acceptance of sums, new objects that were not previously part of one’s ontology. This argument, the argument from ontological parsimony, has two versions: a qualitative and a quantitative one. I argue that the defender of mereology can neutralize both arguments by holding that, given mereology, a commitment to the parts of an object is (...)
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  • La natura e l'identità degli oggetti materiali.Achille C. Varzi - 2007 - In Annalisa Coliva (ed.), Filosofia analitica. Temi e problemi. Carocci Editore. pp. 17–56.
    A critical survey of the main metaphysical theories concerning the nature of material objects (substratum theories, bundle theories, substance theories, stuff theories) and their identity conditions, both synchronic (monist vs. pluralist theories) and diachronic (three-dimensionalism, four-dimensionalism, sequentialism).
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  • Four-Dimensionalism.Theodore Sider - 1997 - Philosophical Review 106 (2):197-231.
    Persistence through time is like extension through space. A road has spatial parts in the subregions of the region of space it occupies; likewise, an object that exists in time has temporal parts in the various subregions of the total region of time it occupies. This view — known variously as four dimensionalism, the doctrine of temporal parts, and the theory that objects “perdure” — is opposed to “three dimensionalism”, the doctrine that things “endure”, or are “wholly present”.1 I will (...)
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  • Restricted Diachronic Composition and Special Relativity.Stephan Torre - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):235-255.
    When do objects at different times compose a further object? This is the question of diachronic composition. The universalist answers, ‘under any conditions whatsoever’. Others argue for restrictions on diachronic composition: composition occurs only when certain conditions are met. Recently, some philosophers have argued that restrictions on diachronic compositions are motivated by our best physical theories. In Persistence and Spacetime and elsewhere, Yuri Balashov argues that diachronic compositions are restricted in terms of causal connections between object stages. In a recent (...)
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  • The Way of Actuality.Sam Cowling - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (2):231-247.
    In this paper, I defend an indexical analysis of the abstract-concrete distinction within the framework of modal realism. This analysis holds the abstract-concrete distinction to be conceptually inseparable from the distinction between the actual and the merely possible, which is assumed to be indexical in nature. The resulting view contributes to the case for modal realism by demonstrating how its distinctive resources provide a reductive analysis of the abstract-concrete distinction. This indexical analysis also provides a solution to a sceptical problem (...)
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  • What is Nominalistic Mereology?Jeremy Meyers - 2012 - Journal of Philosophical Logic (DOI 10.1007/S10992-012-9252-4) (1):1-38.
    Abstract Hybrid languages are introduced in order to evaluate the strength of “minimal” mereologies with relatively strong frame definability properties. Appealing to a robust form of nominalism, I claim that one investigated language Hm is maximally acceptable for nominalistic mereology. In an extension Hgem of Hm, a modal analog for the classical systems of Leonard and Goodman (J Symb Log 5:45–55, 1940) and Lesniewski (1916) is introduced and shown to be complete with respect to 0- deleted Boolean algebras. We characterize (...)
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  • Nihilism Without Self-Contradiction.David Liggins - 2008 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 62:177-196.
    in Robin Le Poidevin (ed.) Being: Developments in Contemporary Metaphysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Peter van Inwagen claims that there are no tables or chairs. He also claims that sentences such as ‘There are chairs here’, which seem to imply their existence, are often true. This combination of views opens van Inwagen to a charge of self-contradiction. I explain the charge, and van Inwagen’s response to it, which involves the claim that sentences like ‘There are tables’ shift their truth-conditions between (...)
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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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  • Daniel Z. Korman, Objects: Nothing Out of the Ordinary. [REVIEW]Asya Passinsky - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (2):241-245.
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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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  • Vague Composition Without Vague Existence.Chad Carmichael - 2011 - Noûs 45 (2):315-327.
    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 composition, there is an object, (...)
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  • Material Composition.David Michael Cornell - 2018 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    A material composite object is an object composed of two or more material parts. The world, it seems, is simply awash with such things. The Eiffel Tower, for instance, is composed of iron girders, nuts and bolts, and so on. You and I, as human beings, are composed of flesh and bone, and various organs. Moreover, these parts themselves are composed of further parts, such as molecules, which themselves are composed of atoms, which are composed of sub-atomic particles. Material composite (...)
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  • How to Solve the Puzzle of Dion and Theon Without Losing Your Head.Chad Carmichael - forthcoming - Mind:fzy021.
    The ancient puzzle of Dion and Theon has given rise to a surprising array of apparently implausible views. For example, in order to solve the puzzle, several philosophers have been led to deny the existence of their own feet, others have denied that objects can gain and lose parts, and large numbers of philosophers have embraced the thesis that distinct objects can occupy the same space, having all their material parts in common. In this paper, I argue for an alternative (...)
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  • Could There Be Exactly Two Things?Juan Comesaña - 2008 - Synthese 162 (1):31 - 35.
    Many philosophers think that, necessarily, any material objects have a fusion (let’s call that doctrine “Universalism”). In this paper I point out a couple of strange consequences of Universalism and related doctrines, and suggest that they are strange enough to constitute a powerful argument against those views.
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  • The Vagueness Argument for Mereological Universalism.Donald Smith - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (3):357–368.
    In this paper, I critically discuss one of the more influential arguments for mereological universalism, what I will call ‘the Vagueness Argument’. I argue that a premise of the Vagueness Argument is not well supported and that there are at least two good reasons for thinking that the premise in question is false.
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  • Against Conservatism in Metaphysics.Maegan Fairchild & John Hawthorne - 2018 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 82:45-75.
    In his recent book, Daniel Korman contrasts ontological conservatives with permissivists and eliminativists about ontology. Roughly speaking, conservatives admit the existence of ‘ordinary objects' like trees, dogs, and snowballs, but deny the existence of ‘extraordinary objects', like composites of trees and dogs. Eliminativists, on the other hand, deny many or all ordinary objects, while permissivists accept both ordinary and extraordinary objects. Our aim in this paper is to outline some of our reasons for being drawn to permissivism, as well as (...)
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  • Almost Identical, Almost Innocent.Katherine Hawley - 2017 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 82:249-263.
    In his 1991 book, Parts of Classes, David Lewis discusses the idea that composition is identity, alongside the idea that mereological overlap is a form of partial identity. But this notion of partial identity does nothing to help Lewis achieve his goals in that book. So why does he mention it? I explore and resolve this puzzle, by comparing Parts of Classes with Lewis's invocation of partial identity in his 1993 paper ‘Many But Almost One’, where he uses it to (...)
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  • Simplicity and Complexity in Metaphysics.Aleksandr Kulieshov - 2018 - Path of Science 4 (6).
    The article deals with the problem of simple and complex objects in metaphysical research. It is stated that the ultimate simplification of reality theoretical models follows from the nature of metaphysical knowledge. The modern metaphysical conceptions of fundamental simplicity and fundamental complexity of existing objects are discussed. They are the conceptions of full and distributional monism, mereological nihilism, and the traditional binary or binary-based models of the foundations of reality, ascending to Aristotle. The paper shows that these conceptions and ideas (...)
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  • Cognitive Assembly: Towards a Diachronic Conception of Composition.Michael David Kirchhoff - 2015 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 14 (1):33–53.
    In this paper, I focus on a recent debate in extended cognition known as “cognitive assembly” and how cognitive assembly shares a certain kinship with the special composition question advanced in analytical metaphysics. Both the debate about cognitive assembly and the special composition question ask about the circumstances under which entities (broadly construed) compose or assemble another entity. The paper argues for two points. The first point is that insofar as the metaphysics of composition presupposes that composition is a synchronic (...)
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  • Sums and Grounding.Noël B. Saenz - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (1):102-117.
    As I will use the term, an object is a mereological sum of some things just in case those things compose it simply in virtue of existing. In the first half of this paper, I argue that there are no sums. The key premise for this conclusion relies on a constraint on what, in certain cases, it takes for something to ground, or metaphysically explain, something else. In the second half, I argue that in light of my argument against sums, (...)
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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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  • The Right Stuff.Ned Markosian - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (4):665-687.
    This paper argues for including stuff in one's ontology. The distinction between things and stuff is first clarified, and then three different ontologies of the physical universe are spelled out: a pure thing ontology, a pure stuff ontology, and a mixed ontology of both things and stuff. Eleven different reasons for including stuff in one's ontology are given. Then five objections to positing stuff are considered and rejected.
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