Monism and Material Constitution

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (1):189-204 (2014)
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Are the sculpture and the mass of gold which permanently makes it up one object or two? In this article, we argue that the monist, who answers ‘one object’, cannot accommodate the asymmetry of material constitution. To say ‘the mass of gold materially constitutes the sculpture, whereas the sculpture does not materially constitute the mass of gold’, the monist must treat ‘materially constitutes’ as an Abelardian predicate, whose denotation is sensitive to the linguistic context in which it appears. We motivate this approach in terms of modal analyses of material constitution, but argue that ultimately it fails. The monist must instead accept a deflationary, symmetrical use of ‘materially constitutes’. We argue that this is a serious cost for her approach
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