, Volume 81, Issue 6, pp 1173–1194 | Cite as

Humean Supervenience, Composition as Identity and Quantum Wholes

  • Claudio Calosi
  • Matteo Morganti
Original Article


In this paper, we focus on two related reductive theses in metaphysics—Humean Supervenience and Composition as Identity—and on their status in light of the indications coming from science, in particular quantum mechanics. While defenders of these reductive theses (at least those who do not simply deny the metaphysical import of empirical data and their proposed interpretation) claim that they can be updated so as to resist the quantum evidence, we provide arguments against this contention. We claim that physics gives us reason for thinking that both Humean Supervenience and Composition as Identity are at least contingently false, as the very process of composition determines, at least in some cases, the nature of composed systems. The argument has essentially to do with the fact that denying the reductive theses in question allows one to provide better explanations for the quantum evidence.


Ontological Commitment Bohmian Mechanic Composite Object Plural Logic Supervenience Basis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We want to thank two anonymous referees for this journal for their detailed, careful and insightful comments which led to substantive revision and improvement. C.C acknowledges financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation, Project No. BSCGI0_157792. M.M acknowledges funding from FIRB 2012, Project No. F81J12000430001.


  1. Albert, D. (1996). Elementary quantum metaphysics. In J. Cushing, A. Fine, & S. Goldstein (Eds.), Bohmian mechanics and quantum theory: An appraisal (pp. 277–284). Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Albert, D. (2013). Wave-function realism. In D. Albert & A. Ney (Eds.), The wave function: Essays in the metaphysics of quantum mechanics (pp. 52–57). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allori, V., Goldstein, S., Tumulka, R., & Zanghì, N. (2008). On the common structure of Bohmian mechanics and the Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber theory. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 59, 353–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bell, J. (1987). Speakable and unspeakable in quantum mechanics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Belot, G. (2012). Quantum states for primitive ontologists. European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 2, 67–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bohn, E. D. (2012). Monism, emergence and plural logic. Erkenntnis, 76, 211–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Callender, C. (2014). One world, one beable. Synthese, 1–25. doi: 10.1007/s11229-014-0582-3.
  8. Cameron, R. (2014). Parts generates the whole, but they are not identical to it. In D. Baxter & A. Cotnoir (Eds.), Composition as identity (pp. 90–107). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cotnoir, A. (2014). Composition as identity. Framing the debate. In D. Baxter & A. Cotnoir (Eds.), Composition as identity (pp. 3–23). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Darby, G. (2012). Relational holism and humean supervenience. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 63, 773–788.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dennett, D. (1991). Real patterns. Journal of Philosophy, 88, 27–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dürr, D., Goldstein, S., & Zanghì, N. (2013). Quantum physics without quantum philosophy. Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Esfeld, M. (2014). Quantum Humeanism: Or physicalism without properties. The Philosophical Quarterly, 64, 453–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fine, K. (1999). Things and their parts. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, XXIII, 61–74.Google Scholar
  15. Ghirardi, G. C., Rimini, A., & Weber, T. (1986). Unified dynamics for microscopic and macroscopic systems. Physical Review D, 34, 470–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lewis, D. (1986). The plurality of worlds. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  17. Lewis, D. (1994). Humean supervenience debugged. Mind, 103, 473–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lewis, D. (2009). Ramseyan Humility. In D. Braddon-Mitchell & R. Nola (Eds.), Conceptual analysis and philosophical naturalism (pp. 203–222). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. Lower, B. (2004). Humean supervenience. In J. Carroll (Ed.), Readings on laws of nature (pp. 176–206). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  20. Maudlin, T. (2007). The metaphysics within physics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McDaniel, K. (2008). Against composition as identity. Analysis, 68(2), 128–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Miller, E. (2013). Quantum entanglement, Bohmian mechanics and Humean supervenience. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 92(3), 567–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Monton, B. (2006). Quantum mechanics and 3 N-dimensional space. Philosophy of Science, 73, 778–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Monton, B. (2013). Against 3 N-dimensional space. In D. Albert & A. Ney (Eds.), The wave function: Essays in the metaphysics of quantum mechanics (pp. 154–167). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ney, A. (2012). The status of our ordinary three dimensions in a quantum universe. Nous, 46(3), 525–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ney, A. (2013). Ontological reduction and the wave function ontology. In D. Albert & A. Ney (Eds.), The wave function: Essays in the metaphysics of quantum mechanics (pp. 168–183). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. North, J. (2013). The structure of a quantum world. In D. Albert & A. Ney (Eds.), The wave function: Essays in the metaphysics of quantum mechanics (pp. 184–202). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Paul, L. A. (2002). Logical parts. Noûs, 36(4), 578–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Paul, L. A. (forthcoming). Mereological bundle theory. In H. Burkhardt, J. Seibt, & G. Imaguire (eds). Handbook of mereology, Munich: Philosophia Verlag. Google Scholar
  30. Rovelli, C. (1996). Relational quantum mechanics. International Journal of Theoretical Physics, 35, 1637–1678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rovelli, C., & Smerlak, M. (2007). Relational EPR. Foundations of Physics, 37, 427–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Schaffer, J. (2008). Causation and laws of nature: Reductionism. In T. Sider, J. Hawthorne, & D. Zimmerman (Eds.), Contemporary debates in metaphysics (pp. 82–107). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  33. Schaffer, J. (2010). Monism. The priority of the whole. Philosophical Review, 119(1), 31–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sider, T. (2007). Parthood. Philosophical Review, 116, 51–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sider, T. (2014). Consequences of Collapse. In D. Baxter & A. Cotnoir (Eds.), Composition as identity (pp. 211–221). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Suárez, M. (2015). Bohmian dispositions. Synthese, 1–26. doi: 10.1007/s11229-015-0741-1.
  37. Teller, P. (1986). Relational Holism and quantum mechanics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 37, 71–81.Google Scholar
  38. Tumulka, R. (2006). A relativistic version of the Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber model. Journal of Statistical Physics, 125, 155–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wallace, D. (2004). Protecting cognitive science from quantum theory. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 27, 636–637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Winsberg, E., & Fine, A. (2003). Quantum life: Interaction, entanglement and separation. Journal of Philosophy, 100, 80–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PhilosophyUniversity of NeuchatelNeuchâtelSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Rome3RomeItaly

Personalised recommendations