Composition

Oxford Handbooks Online (2016)
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Abstract

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 dominant answers are all of them and none of them. In §§3-4, we examine one of the main arguments that has driven philosophers to these extreme answers: the argument from vagueness. In §5, we turn to the question of whether composition is unique: is it sometimes the case that some things compose more than one thing? Finally, in §6, we turn from the question of which composites exist to the question of which composites exist fundamentally.

Author Profiles

Chad Carmichael
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis
Daniel Z. Korman
University of California at Santa Barbara

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