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


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.

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  1. 1.

    ∀x C(x, x)

  2. 2.

    ∀x∀y∀z [(C(x, y) ∧ C(y, z)) → C(x, z)]

  3. 3.

    ∀x∀y (C(x, y) → C(y, x))

  4. 4.

    Or ‘object’, since we then have differentiated the notion of ‘part’ from the notion of ‘object’ while only one part in a partition all the same would be an ‘object’ on this view.


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Correspondence to Johan Gamper.

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Gamper, J. Blocking the Vagueness Block - A New Restricted Answer to the Special Composition Question. Philosophia 47, 425–428 (2019).

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  • Vagueness
  • The special composition question
  • Causal objects
  • Equivalence classes