, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 425–428 | Cite as

Blocking the Vagueness Block - A New Restricted Answer to the Special Composition Question

  • Johan GamperEmail author


The vagueness objection seems to block any moderate answer to the Special Composition Question leaving us with the two extreme alternatives that there either is no composite object or that any set of things compose an object. In this technical paper I introduce the notion of causal objects and a definition of a predicate that permits the set of all parts to be divided into equivalence classes. On this view we can use equivalence classes of parts to define the notion of composite objects why vagueness is blocked. The block works in a hypothetical domain where all parts have a cause so the aim is not to suggest empirically detectable parts and composites, nor to claim any kind of existence of the things being defined, but to present a consistent account of a possible moderate answer to the Special Composition Question that avoids the vagueness objection. The underlying idea is that an object, as such, is not caused whereas its parts are. For example, if we have three caused parts A, B and C constituting the composite D, we have three things that are caused (A, B and C) whereas the composite D has no cause over and above the three causes of A, B and C.


Vagueness The special composition question Causal objects Equivalence classes 


  1. Markosian, N. (1998). Brutal composition. Philosophical Studies, 92(3), 211–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. van Cleve, J. (2008). The moon and sixpence: a defense of mereological universalism. In T. Sider, J. Hawthorne, & D. W. Zimmerman (Eds.), Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics. Blackwell Pub.Google Scholar
  3. van Inwagen, P. (1987). When are objects parts? Philosophical Perspectives, 1, Metaphysics, 21–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Scientific OntologyVendelsoSweden

Personalised recommendations