Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 3, pp 607–614 | Cite as

How do you say ‘everything is ultimately composed of atoms’?

  • Anthony ShiverEmail author


The standard definition of atomicity—the thesis that everything is ultimately composed of entities that lack proper parts—is satisfied by a model that is not atomistic. The standard definition is therefore an incorrect characterization of atomicity. I show that the model satisfies the axioms of all but the strongest mereology and therefore that the standard definition of atomicity is only adequate given some controversial metaphysical assumptions. I end by proposing a new definition of atomicity that does not require extensionality or unrestricted summation.


Mereology Atomicity Atoms Simples Plural logic 



Thanks to Charles Cross, Yuri Balashov, Achille Varzi, Aaron Cotnoir, Jennifer Wang, and Matt Leonard for conversation and notes on earlier drafts. I am especially thankful to an anonymous reviewer whose comments were extremely helpful.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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