Composition as a Kind of Identity

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (3):264-294 (2016)
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Abstract

Composition as identity, as I understand it, is a theory of the composite structure of reality. The theory’s underlying logic is irreducibly plural; its fundamental primitive is a generalized identity relation that takes either plural or singular arguments. Strong versions of the theory that incorporate a generalized version of the indiscernibility of identicals are incompatible with the framework of plural logic, and should be rejected. Weak versions of the theory that are based on the idea that composition is merely analogous to identity are too weak to be interesting, lacking in metaphysical consequence. I defend a moderate version according to which composition is a kind of identity, and argue that the difference is metaphysically substantial, not merely terminological. I then consider whether the notion of generalized identity, though fundamental, can be elucidated in modal terms by reverse engineering Hume’s Dictum. Unfortunately, for realists about possible worlds, such as myself,...

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Phillip Bricker
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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