A tale of two simples

Philosophical Studies 148 (2):167 - 181 (2010)
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A material simple is a material object that has no proper parts. Some philosophers have argued for the possibility of extended simples. Some have even argued for the possibility of heterogeneous simples or simples that have intrinsic variations across their surfaces. There is a puzzle, though, that is meant to show that extended, heterogeneous simples are impossible. Although several plausible responses have been given to this puzzle, I wish to reopen the case against extended, heterogeneous simples. In this paper, I briefly canvass responses to this puzzle which may be made in defense of extended, heterogeneous simples. I then present a new version of this puzzle which targets simples that occupy atomic yet extended regions of space. It seems that none of the traditional responses can be used to successfully save this particular kind of extended simple from the new puzzle. I also consider some non-traditional defenses of heterogeneous extended simples and argue that they too are unsuccessful. Finally, I will argue that a substantial case can be made against the possibility of extended heterogeneous simples of any kind.

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Joshua Spencer
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee


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