Contingent composition as identity

Synthese (2018)
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When the necessity of identity (NI) is combined with composition as identity (CAI), the contingency of composition (CC) is at risk. In the extant literature, either NI is seen as the basis for a refutation of CAI or CAI is associated with a theory of modality, such that: either NI is renounced (if counterpart theory is adopted); or CC is renounced (if the theory of modal parts is adopted). In this paper, we investigate the prospects of a new variety of CAI, which aims to preserve both NI and CC. This new variety of CAI (CCAI, contingent composition as identity) is the quite natural product of the attempt to make sense of CAI on the background of a broadly Kripkean view of modality, such that one and the same entity is allowed to exist at more than one possible world. CCAI introduces a world-relative kind of identity, which is different from standard identity, and claims that composition is this kind of world-relative identity. CCAI manages to preserve NI and CC. We compare CCAI with Gibbard’s and Gallois’ doctrines of contingent identity and we show that CCAI can be sensibly interpreted as a form of Weak CAI, that is of the thesis that composition is not standard identity, yet is significantly similar to it.

Author Profiles

Giorgio Lando
Università degli Studi dell'Aquila
Massimiliano Carrara
University of Padua


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