Composition as Identity: Part 1

Philosophy Compass 6 (11):804-816 (2011)
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Many of us think that ordinary objects – such as tables and chairs – exist. We also think that ordinary objects have parts: my chair has a seat and some legs as parts, for example. But once we are committed to the (seemingly innocuous) thesis that ordinary objects are composed of parts, we then open ourselves up to a whole host of philosophical problems, most of which center on what exactly the composition relation is. Composition as Identity (CI) is the view that the composition relation is the identity relation. While such a view has some advantages, there are many arguments against it. In this essay, I will briefly canvass three different varieties of Composition as Identity, and suggest why one of them should be preferred over the others. Then I will outline several versions of the most common objection against CI. I will suggest how a CI theorist can respond to these charges by maintaining that some of the arguments are invalid. (In part 2, I show how a CI theorist can maintain that the remaining arguments, while valid, are unsound).

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Meg Wallace
University of Kentucky


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