Composition and Identities

Dissertation, University of Otago (2017)
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Composition as Identity is the view that an object is identical to its parts taken collectively. I elaborate and defend a theory based on this idea: composition is a kind of identity. Since this claim is best presented within a plural logic, I develop a formal system of plural logic. The principles of this system differ from the standard views on plural logic because one of my central claims is that identity is a relation which comes in a variety of forms and only one of them obeys substitution unrestrictedly. I justify this departure from orthodoxy by showing some problems which result from attempts to avoid inconsistencies within plural logic by means of postulating other non-singular terms besides plural terms. Thereby, some of the main criticisms raised against Composition as Identity can be addressed. Further, I argue that the way objects are arranged is relevant with respect to the question which object they compose, i.e. to which object they are identical to. This helps to meet a second group of arguments against Composition as Identity. These arguments aim to show that identifying composite objects on the basis of the identity of their parts entails, contrary to our common sense view, that rearranging the parts of a composite object does not leave us with a different object. Moreover, it allows us to carve out the intensional aspects of Composition as Identity and to defend mereological universalism, the claim that any objects compose some object. Much of the pressure put on the latter view can be avoided by distinguishing the question whether some objects compose an object from the question what object they compose. Eventually, I conclude that Composition as Identity is a coherent and plausible position, as long as we take identity to be a more complex relation than commonly assumed.

Author's Profile

Manuel Lechthaler
University of Strathclyde


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