, Volume 83, Issue 6, pp 1127–1138 | Cite as

Constitution and Identity

  • John BiroEmail author
Original Research


A widely held view has it that sometimes there is more than one thing in exactly the same place, as is the case, allegedly, with a clay statue. There is the statue, but there also is a piece of clay—both obviously in the same place yet distinct in virtue of their differing properties, if only modal ones. Those holding this view—pluralists—often describe the relation between such objects as one of constitution, with the piece of clay being said to constitute the statue. In the first part of this paper I consider ways in which the supposed relation of constitution may be understood. I conclude that the only coherent interpretation of ‘x constitutes y’ is one on which it is presupposed that x and y are identical. While this does not, by itself, show that pluralism is false, it is something that should make us suspicious of it. In the second part of the paper I propose a simple way with the temporal and modal facts the pluralist appeals to, showing that they do not force us into accepting his puzzling doctrine.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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