A Critique of Baker’s Constitution View

Abstract

The paper presents, motivates, critiques, and proposes revisions to Baker’s Constitution View, which includes her definitions of constitution, derivative features, and numerical sameness. The paper argues that Baker should add a mereological clause to her definition of constitution in order to avoid various counterexamples.

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Notes

1. Burke (1992) coined the phrase “Standard Account.” Those who accept the Standard Account include David Wiggins, Frederick Doepke, Judith Thomson, Mark Johnston, and Ernest Sosa, some of whose papers on the matter are reprinted in Rea (1997).

2. See Rea (1995) for the original formulation of the problem of material constitution, which consists of five assumptions: (1) The Existence Assumption (Some xs compose something at t), (2) The Essentialist Assumption (If the xs compose y at t, they compose something at t that essentially bears R to any parts it has at any time), (3) The Principle of Alternative Compositional Possibilities (If the xs compose y at t, they compose something at t that doesn’t essentially bear R to any parts it has at any time), (4) The Identity Assumption (If the xs compose y at t and the xs compose z at t, then y = z), and (5) The Necessity Assumption (If x = y, they are essentially identical).

3. The indiscernibility of identicals says this: ∀xy(x = y→(Fx→Fy)).

4. The converse of a relation Rxy is the relation Ryx. The disjunction of two relations Rxy and Sxy is the relation RxyvSxy. So the disjunction of a relation Rxy and its converse is the relation RxyvRyx.

5. Throughout the paper, when I can, I simplify the definition.

6. Throughout the paper, when I can, I drop the reference to time.

7. A branching case of constitution is any case of constitution where x constitutes y and z, neither y nor z is identical to the other, and neither y nor z constitutes the other.

8. An equivalence relation is any relation that is symmetric, transitive, and reflexive. A relation R is symmetric iff (i.e., if and only if) ∀xy(Rxy→Ryx) and is transitive iff ∀xyz((Rxy&Ryz)→Rxz). A relation R is reflexive iff ∀xRxx and partially reflexive iff ∀xy((RxyvRyx)→Rxx). Every relation that is symmetric and transitive is partially reflexive and so is a partial equivalence relation. But not every relation that is symmetric and transitive is reflexive. So not every relation that is symmetric and transitive is an equivalence relation.

9. The ancestral of a relation Rxy is the relation: Rxy or there is z1, z2, …, zn such that Rxz1, Rz1z2, …, Rzny.

10. Baker 2000, pp.99–101 extends the definition of having a feature derivatively so as to include hybrid features. I ignore the extension here.

11. Translate this: x doesn’t have H at t independently of x’s c-relations to y at t.

12. A stacking case of constitution is any case of constitution where x constitutes y and y constitutes z.

13. It also seems Lump should be a statue independently of its c-relations to Pot. But, on (I), this is false for the same reason.

14. It also seems Statue is not a pot independently of its c-relations to Lump. But, on (I), this is false for the same reason.

15. It also seems Statue should be a statue independently of its c-relations to Pot. Moreover, it seems Pot should be a lump independently of its c-relations to Statue, and Statue should also be a lump independently of its c-relations to Pot. But, on (I), these claims are all false for the same reason.

16. It also seems Statue should be a pot derivatively. But, on (D), this is false for the same reason.

17. In other words, on (I), everything is not a statue independently of its c-relations to Pot. So, on (I), everything that is a statue independently of its c-relations to Pot is such that Pot is a statue independently of Pot’s c-relations to it.

18. See n.13.

19. See n.15.

20. Translate this: it must be that: for any F in G-favorable conditions at time t, some G spatially coincides with it at t.

21. Translate this: it could be that: x exists at time t but no G spatially coincides with x at t.

22. Translate the second conjunct: any G that spatially coincides with x is identical to y.

23. The xs compose y iff the xs don’t overlap each other, each of the xs is a part of y, and each part of y overlaps at least one of the xs.

24. Translate this: it must be that: if x is in G-favorable conditions at time t, then some G materially coincides with x at t.

25. In a de re modal claim, a designator is in the scope of a modal operator or a modal operator is in the scope of a quantifier. In a de dicto modal claim, neither is true.

26. A relation R is asymmetric iff ∀xy(Rxy→∼Ryx) and is anti-symmetric iff ∀xy((Rxy&Ryx)→x = y).

27. Translate this: each of the ys is a mereological part of x, and each mereological part of x mereologically overlaps one of the ys.

28. Translate this: x is a proper mereological part of a sum that constitutes y at t.

References

• Baker LR (1997) Why Constitution is not Identity. Journal of Philosophy 94: 599–621

• Baker LR (1999) Unity Without Identity: A New Look at Material Constitution. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 23: 144–65

• Baker LR (2000) Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

• Baker LR (2002) On Making Things Up: Constitution and Its Critics. Philosophical Topics 30: 31–51

• Baker LR (2007) The Metaphysics of Everyday Life: An Essay in Practical Realism. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

• Burke M (1992) Copper Statues and Pieces of Copper. Analysis 52: 12–17

• Hawthorne J, Uzquiano G (2011) How Many Angels Can Dance on the Point of a Needle? Transcendental Theology Meets Modal Metaphysics. Mind 120: 53–81

• Lewis D (1999) Many, But Almost One. In: Lewis D (ed.) Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

• Rea M (1995) The Problem of Material Constitution. Philosophical Review 104: 525–52

• Rea M (ed.) (1997) Material Constitution: A Reader. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, Lanham, MD

• Sider T (2002) Review of Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View. Journal of Philosophy 99: 45–48

• Zimmerman D (2002) The Constitution of Persons by Bodies: A Critique of Lynne Rudder Baker’s Theory of Material Constitution. Philosophical Topics 30: 295–338

Acknowledgments

My thanks to Allan Bäck and John Lizza for comments on a previous draft. My thanks also to Lynne Rudder Baker for her response to my presentation of the paper in a panel discussion devoted to her work on constitution at the IAPRS 2012 Conference.

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Correspondence to Joseph Jedwab.

Jedwab, J. A Critique of Baker’s Constitution View. Int Ontology Metaphysics 14, 47–62 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12133-012-0110-1