What do we want to know when we ask the Simple Question?

Philosophical Quarterly 64 (255):254-266 (2014)
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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 question to be asked about simples; there are a plethora of questions about simples that may even be addressed without answering the original question. The paper closes with some tentative remarks on how this lesson could be extended to van Inwagen’s Special Composition Question.
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