Philosophical Studies

, Volume 136, Issue 1, pp 99–121 | Cite as

The contingency of composition

  • Ross P. Cameron


There is widespread disagreement as to what the facts are concerning just when a collection of objects composes some further object; but there is widespread agreement that, whatever those facts are, they are necessary. I am unhappy to simply assume this, and in this paper I ask whether there is reason to think that the facts concerning when composition occurs hold necessarily. I consider various reasons to think so, but find fault with each of them. I examine the theory of composition as identity, but argue that the version of this doctrine that entails universalism is unwarranted. I consider the claim that the a priority of such facts leads to their necessity, but give a defence of substantial contingent a priori truths. I ask whether the contingency of such facts would lead to unwelcome possibilities, but argue that it does not. Next, I argue against the thought that the Lewis–Sider argument against restricted composition might give us reason to accept the necessity of universalism. Lastly, I respond to two objections from the 2006 BSPC. I conclude in favour of the contingency of the facts concerning when some things compose some thing.


Composition Modality 



Thanks to Elizabeth Barnes, Bob Hale, Daniel Nolan and Robert Williams for helpful comments. Thanks also to participants at the 2006 BSPC conference at Western Washington University, especially Karen Bennett, Cody Gilmore, Ned Markosian and Ted Sider.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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