Advertisement

Synthese

pp 1–24 | Cite as

On atomic composition as identity

  • Roberto LossEmail author
S.I.: Mereology and Identity

Abstract

In this paper I address two important objections to the theory called ‘(Strong) Composition as Identity’ (‘CAI’): the ‘wall-bricks-and-atoms problem’ (‘WaBrA problem’), and the claim that CAI entails mereological nihilism. I aim to argue that the best version of CAI capable of addressing both problems is the theory I will call ‘Atomic Composition as Identity’ (‘ACAI’) which consists in taking the plural quantifier to range only over proper pluralities of mereological atoms and every non-atomic entity to be identical to the (proper) plurality of atoms it fuses. I will proceed in three main steps. First, I will defend Sider’s (in: Baxter D, Cotnoir A (eds) Composition as identity. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 211–221, 2014) idea of weakening the comprehension principle for pluralities and I will show that (pace Calosi in Philos Q 66(263):219–235, 2016a) it can ward off both the WaBrA problem and the threat of mereological nihilism. Second, I will argue that CAI-theorists should uphold an ‘atomic comprehension principle’ which, jointly with CAI, entails that there are only proper pluralities of mereological atoms. Finally, I will present a novel reading of the ‘one of’ relation that not only avoids the problems presented by Yi (J Philos 95:163–190, 1999a, in: Baxter D, Cotnoir A (eds) Composition as identity. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 169–191, 2014) and Calosi (Log Log Philos 25(3):429–443, 2016b, Am Philos Q 55(3):281–292, 2018) but can also help ACAI-theorists to make sense of the idea that a composite entity is both one and many.

Keywords

Mereology Composition as identity Collapse Mereological nihilism 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am very grateful to four anonymous referees for this journal for very useful comments that greatly improved the paper. Special thanks to Claudio Calosi for discussions on this and related topics.

References

  1. Bennett, K. (2015). Perfectly understood, unproblematic, and certain: Lewis on mereology. In B. Loewer & J. Schaffer (Eds.), A companion to David Lewis (pp. 250–261). Hoboken: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Calosi, C. (2016a). Composition is identity and mereological nihilism. The Philosophical Quarterly, 66(263), 219–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Calosi, C. (2016b). Composition, identity, and emergence. Logic and Logical Philosophy, 25(3), 429–443.Google Scholar
  4. Calosi, C. (2018). Failure or boredom: The pendulum of composition as identity. American Philosophical Quarterly, 55(3), 281–292.Google Scholar
  5. Cotnoir, A. (2013). Composition as general identity. In K. Bennett & D. Zimmerman (Eds.), Oxford studies in metaphysics (Vol. 8, pp. 295–322). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. 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
  7. Gruszczyński, R. (2015). On mereological counterparts of some principle[s] for sets. Logique et Analyse, 232, 535–546.Google Scholar
  8. Hawley, K. (2014). Ontological innocence. In D. Baxter & A. Cotnoir (Eds.), Composition as identity (pp. 70–89). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hovda, P. (2009). What is classical mereology? Journal of Philosophical Logic, 38(1), 55–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hovda, P. (2014). Logical considerations on composition as identity. In D. Baxter & A. Cotnoir (Eds.), Composition as identity (pp. 192–210). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lewis, D. (1991). Parts of classes. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. Linnebo, Ø. (2017). Plural quantification. In E. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Summer 2017 Edition). URL https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2017/entries/plural-quant/. Accessed April 2018.
  13. Loss, R. (2018). A sudden collapse to nihilism. The Philosophical Quarterly, 68, 370–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Sider, T. (2007). Parthood. Philosophical Review, 116, 51–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Sider, T. (2013). Against parthood. In Oxford studies in metaphysics: volume 8 (pp. 237–293). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Sider, T. (2014). Consequences of collapse. In K. Bennet & D. Zimmerman (Eds.), Composition as identity (pp. 211–221). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Varzi, A. (2014). Counting and countenancing. In D. Baxter & A. Cotnoir (Eds.), Composition as identity (pp. 47–69). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Varzi, A. (2016). Mereology, In E. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition)., URL https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/mereology/. Accessed April 2018.
  19. Yi, B. (1999a). Is two a property? Journal of Philosophy, 95, 163–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Yi, B. (1999b). Is mereology ontologically innocent? Philosophical Studies, 93, 141–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Yi, B. (2014). Is there a plural object? In Donal Baxter & Aaron Cotnoir (Eds.), Composition as identity (pp. 169–191). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophisches SeminarUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

Personalised recommendations