Maximality, Function, and the Many

Metaphysica 20 (2):175-193 (2019)
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Abstract

In the region where some cat sits, there are many very cat-like items that are proper parts of the cat (or otherwise mereologically overlap the cat) , but which we are inclined to think are not themselves cats, e.g. all of Tibbles minus the tail. The question is, how can something be so cat-like without itself being a cat. Some have tried to answer this “Problem of the Many” (a problem that arises for many different kinds of things we regularly encounter, including desks, persons, rocks, and clouds) by relying on a mereological maximality principle, according to which, something cannot be a member of a kind K if it is a large proper part of, or otherwise greatly mereologically overlaps, a K. It has been shown, however, that a maximality constraint of this type, i.e. one that restricts mereological overlap, is open to strong objections. Inspired by the insights of, especially, Sutton and Madden, I develop a type of functional-maximality principle that avoids these objections (and has other merits), and thereby provides a better answer to the Problem of the Many.

Author's Profile

Robert Francescotti
San Diego State University

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