Philosophical Studies

, Volume 161, Issue 2, pp 309-325

First online:

Biological-mereological coincidence

  • Judith K. CraneAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Email author 

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This paper presents and defends an account of the coincidence of biological organisms with mereological sums of their material components. That is, an organism and the sum of its material components are distinct material objects existing in the same place at the same time. Instead of relying on historical or modal differences to show how such coincident entities are distinct, this paper argues that there is a class of physiological properties of biological organisms that their coincident mereological sums do not have. The account answers some of the most pressing objections to coincidence, for example the so-called “grounding problem”, that material coincidence seems to require that coinciding objects have modal differences that do not supervene on any other properties.


Material coincidence Leibniz’s Law Grounding problem Biological organisms Mereological sums Supervenience