Mereology

Edited by Meg Wallace (University of Kentucky)
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  1. No Unity, No Problem: Madhyamaka Metaphysical Indefinitism.Allison Aitken - 2021 - Philosophers' Imprint 21 (31):1–24.
    According to Madhyamaka Buddhist philosophers, everything depends for its existence on something else. But what would a world devoid of fundamentalia look like? In this paper, I argue that the anti-foundationalist “neither-one-nor-many argument” of the Indian Mādhyamika Śrīgupta commits him to a position I call “metaphysical indefinitism.” I demonstrate how this view follows from Śrīgupta’s rejection of mereological simples and ontologically independent being, when understood in light of his account of conventional reality. Contra recent claims in the secondary literature, I (...)
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  2. Fine's Monster Objection Defanged.Damiano Costa, Alessandro Cecconi & Claudio Calosi - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
    The Monster objection has been often considered one of the main reasons to explore non- standard mereological views, such as hylomorphism. Still, it has been rarely discussed and then only in a cursory fashion. This paper fills this gap by offering the first thorough assessment of the objection. It argues that different metaphysical stances, such as presentism, three- and four-dimensionalism, provide different ways of undermining the objection.
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  3. Kant and the Mereology of the Perceiver’s Body.Adam Jurkiewicz - 2021 - In Camilla Serck-Hanssen & Beatrix Himmelmann (eds.), The Court of Reason: Proceedings of the 13th International Kant Congress. De Gruyter. pp. 1237-1244.
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  4. Composition as Identity and the Innocence of Mereology.Roberto Loss - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  5. The Power of Husserl’s Third Logical Investigation: Formal and Applied Mereology in Zur Lehre von den Ganzen Und Teilen.Alexis Delamare - 2021 - Studia Phaenomenologica 21:295-316.
    The peculiar legacy of Husserl’s mereology, chiefly studied by analytic philosophers interested in ontology, has led to a partial understanding of the III. LU, which is too often reduced to a chapter of “formal ontology”. Yet, the power of this Investigation goes far beyond: it enabled Husserl to deal, in the framework of a unified theory, with a vast range of particular problems. The paper focuses on one of these issues, namely abstraction, so as to expose how Husserl instrumentalizes his (...)
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  6. Persistence as a Four-Dimensionalist: Perdurantism Vs. Exdurantism.Richard Callais - 2021 - Dialogue 64 (1):24-29.
    The debate over persistence currently involves three competing theories—one three-dimensionalist theory called “endurantism” and two four-dimensionalist theories called “perdurantism” and “exdurantism.” This inner debate between the latter two persistence theories is what I aim to clarify, and ultimately, I argue that perdurantism is superior to exdurantism because exdurantism is too extravagant in counting ordinary objects in the world. Extravagant for the reason that objects in their entirety are bound to their momentary stages, and there is practically an interminable number of (...)
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  7. Being in Flux: A Post-Anthropocentric Ontology of the Self.Rein Raud - 2021 - Cambridge, UK: Wiley.
    Reality exists independently of human observers, but does the same apply to its structure? Realist ontologies usually assume so: according to them, the world consists of objects, these have properties and enter into relations with each other, more or less as we are accustomed to think of them. Against this view, Rein Raud develops a radical process ontology that does not credit any vantage point, any scale or speed of being, any range of cognitive faculties with the privilege to judge (...)
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  8. Deleuze and Ancient Atomism.Yannis Chatzantonis - manuscript
    A brief survey of Deleuze’s writings on ancient atomism and on the concept of the atom in general. Deleuze’s treatment of atomism is significant because it makes clear Deleuze’s aim in shifting the mereological vocabulary from points to lines; it shows what, in Deleuze’s sense, it means to unground. In other words, it sets down the conditions for a successful Deleuzian critique of essentialist metaphysics of structure.
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  9. Deleuze's Metaphysics of Structure in Difference and Repetition.Yannis Chatzantonis - manuscript
    This essay describes and evaluates the conception of mereological structure that underpins Deleuze’s account of ontogenesis in Difference and Repetition. A theory of mereology is a theory of composition: it asks what it is to be a part making a whole, what it is to be a whole collecting its parts; in short, in what the relation of making or composing consists. The locus classicus for modern mereology is the third of Husserl’s Logical Investigations (‘On the Theory of Wholes and (...)
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  10. Deleuze and Mereology: Multiplicity, Structure and Composition.Yannis Chatzantonis - 2011 - Dissertation, Dundee University
    This investigation constitutes an attempt towards (1) understanding issues and problems relating to the notions of one, many, part and whole in Parmenides and Plato; (2) extracting conditions for a successful account of multiplicity and parthood; (3) surveying Deleuzian conceptions and uses of these notions; (4) appraising the extent to which Deleuze’s metaphysics can answer some of these ancient problems concerning the status of multiplicity and the nature of mereological composition, that is, of the relations that pertain between parts and (...)
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  11. Leibniz and Bolzano on Conceptual Containment.Jan Claas - 2021 - Wiley: European Journal of Philosophy:1-19.
    Philosophers often rely on the notion of conceptual containment and apply mereological terminology when they talk about the parts or constituents of a complex concept. In this paper, I explore two historical approaches to this general notion. In particular, I reconstruct objections Bernard Bolzano puts forward against a criterion that played a prominent role in the history of philosophy and that was endorsed, among others, by Leibniz. According to this criterion, a concept that represents objects contains all and only the (...)
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  12. Mereology.Achille C. Varzi & A. J. Cotnoir - 2021 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Is a whole something more than the sum of its parts? Are there things composed of the same parts? If you divide an object into parts, and divide those parts into smaller parts, will this process ever come to an end? Can something lose parts or gain new ones without ceasing to be the thing it is? Does any multitude of things (including disparate things such as you, this book, and the tail of a cat) compose a whole of some (...)
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  13. Parts of Spacetime.Sam Baron - forthcoming - American Philosophical Quarterly.
    Consider the following pair of theses: (i) all fundamental physical objects are spatiotemporal and (ii) all non-fundamental physical objects are ultimately composed of fundamental objects. Work on the physics of quantum gravity suggests that spacetime is a non-fundamental, emergent phenomenon and thus that thesis (i) is false. The fundamentals are non-spatiotemporal in nature. In this paper, I will argue against (ii) on the grounds that non-fundamental spatiotemporal objects cannot be composed of fundamental non-spatiotemporal objects. So, assuming that spacetime is emergent, (...)
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  14. Plurals and Mereology.Salvatore Florio & David Nicolas - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (3):415-445.
    In linguistics, the dominant approach to the semantics of plurals appeals to mereology. However, this approach has received strong criticisms from philosophical logicians who subscribe to an alternative framework based on plural logic. In the first part of the article, we offer a precise characterization of the mereological approach and the semantic background in which the debate can be meaningfully reconstructed. In the second part, we deal with the criticisms and assess their logical, linguistic, and philosophical significance. We identify four (...)
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  15. A Taxonomy for the Mereology of Entangled Quantum Systems.Paul M. Näger & Niko Strobach - manuscript
    The emerging field of quantum mereology considers part-whole relations in quantum systems. Entangled quantum systems pose a peculiar problem in the field, since their total states are not reducible to that of their parts. While there exist several established proposals for modelling entangled systems, like monistic holism or relational holism, there is considerable unclarity, which further positions are available. Using the lambda operator and plural logic as formal tools, we review and develop conceivable models and evaluate their consistency and distinctness. (...)
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  16. How to Deal with the Puzzle of Coincident Objects.Ataollah Hashemi - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Alberta
    The grounding problem is related to the puzzle of numerically distinct spatiotemporally coincident objects. Suppose Lumpl –a lump of clay– and Goliath – the statue – are created and later destroyed, simultaneously. They would share all of their physical and spatiotemporal properties and relations. But, Goliath and Lumpl have different modal and sortal properties, which would suggest they are distinct entities, while at the same time entirely co-located. This issue creates a puzzle and raises the question of how two distinct (...)
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  17. Composing Spacetime.Sam Baron & Baptiste Le Bihan - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophy.
    According to a number of approaches in theoretical physics spacetime does not exist fundamentally. Rather, spacetime exists by depending on another, more fundamental, non-spatiotemporal structure. A prevalent opinion in the literature is that this dependence should not be analysed in terms of composition. We should not say, that is, that spacetime depends on an ontology of non-spatiotemporal entities in virtue of having them as parts. But is that really right? On the contrary, we argue that a mereological approach to dependent (...)
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  18. Ontology (Science).Barry Smith - 2008 - In Carola Eschenbach & Mike Grüninger (eds.), Formal Ontology in Information Systems. Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference (FOIS 2008). Amsterdam: IOS Press. pp. 21-35.
    Increasingly, in data-intensive areas of the life sciences, experimental results are being described in algorithmically useful ways with the help of ontologies. Such ontologies are authored and maintained by scientists to support the retrieval, integration and analysis of their data. The proposition to be defended here is that ontologies of this type – the Gene Ontology (GO) being the most conspicuous example – are a part of science. Initial evidence for the truth of this proposition (which some will find self-evident) (...)
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  19. Quantum Gravity and Mereology: Not So Simple.Sam Baron & Baptiste Le Bihan - 2022 - Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1):19-40.
    A number of philosophers have argued in favour of extended simples on the grounds that they are needed by fundamental physics. The arguments typically appeal to theories of quantum gravity. To date, the argument in favour of extended simples has ignored the fact that the very existence of spacetime is put under pressure by quantum gravity. We thus consider the case for extended simples in the context of different views on the existence of spacetime. We show that the case for (...)
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  20. Somewhere Together: Location, Parsimony and Multilocation.Roberto Loss - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-17.
    Most of the theories of location on the market appear to be ideologically parsimonious at least in the sense that they take as primitive just one locative notion and define all the other locative notions in terms of it. Recently, however, the possibility of some exotic metaphysical scenarios involving gunky mixtures and extended simple regions of space has been argued to pose a significant threat to parsimonious theories of locations. The aim of this paper is to show that a theory (...)
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  21. The World Just Is the Way It Is.David Builes - 2021 - The Monist 104 (1):1-27.
    What is the relationship between objects and properties? According to a standard view, there are primitive individuals that ‘instantiate’ or ‘have’ various properties. According to a rival view, objects are mere ‘bundles’ of properties. While there are a number of reasons to be skeptical of primitive individuals, there are also a number of challenges that the bundle theorist faces. The goal of this paper is to formulate a view about the relationship between objects and properties that avoids many of the (...)
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  22. Why Composition Matters.Andrew M. Bailey & Andrew Brenner - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (8):934-949.
    Many say that ontological disputes are defective because they are unimportant or without substance. In this paper, we defend ontological disputes from the charge, with a special focus on disputes over the existence of composite objects. Disputes over the existence of composite objects, we argue, have a number of substantive implications across a variety of topics in metaphysics, science, philosophical theology, philosophy of mind, and ethics. Since the disputes over the existence of composite objects have these substantive implications, they are (...)
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  23. The Concreteness of Objects: An Argument Against Mereological Bundle Theory.Uriah Kriegel - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):5107-5124.
    In a series of publications, L. A. Paul has defended a version of the bundle theory according to which material objects are nothing but mereological sums of ‘their’ properties. This ‘mereological’ bundle theory improves in important ways on earlier bundle theories, but here I present a new argument against it. The argument is roughly this: Material objects occupy space; even if properties have spatial characteristics, they do not quite occupy space; on no plausible construal of mereological composition does a mereological (...)
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  24. Fleeting Things and Permanent Stuff: A Priorean Project in Real Time.Paul Needham - 1997 - In Uwe Scheffler and Max Urchs Jan Faye (ed.), Perspectives on Time. Dordrecht, Nederländerna: pp. 119-141.
    Prior left us with a problem which he stated in the following way: ‘Very roughly, it would seem that countable “things” are made or grow from bits of stuff, or from other countable “things”, that are already there. The precise logic of this process hasn’t been worked out yet, and until it has been, it seems likely that any tensed predicate logic can only be provisional in character.’ Although I disagree with much of the philosophy of time underlying Priorean tense (...)
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  25. Whole-Parts Relations in Early Modern Philosophy.Emanuele Costa - 2021 - Encyclopedia of Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences.
    The approach adopted by Early Modern authors to the notions of ‘whole’ and ‘part’ (what is called, in contemporary metaphysics, “mereology”, from the Ancient Greek word μερος: ‘part’) constitutes a central feature of their respective systems. The issue of what constituted a whole became all the more crucial as the new, revolutionary approaches to matter and extension – which mark the unavoidably fuzzy beginning of what we define as “modernity” – demanded a novel (and in some cases, radical) approach to (...)
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  26. Quantum Considerations in the Metaphysics of Levels.Ryan Miller - 2024? - Dissertation, Université de Genève
    Amie Thomasson challenges advocates of layered conceptions of reality to explain “how layers are distinguished” and “what holds them together” by “examining the world” (2014). One strategy for answering such questions is mereological, treating inter-layer relations as parthood relations, where layers exist whenever composition does, and the number of layers will be equivalent to the number of answers to Peter Van Inwagen’s Special Composition Question, while answers to his General Composition Question explain what holds the layers together (1987). Various answers (...)
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  27. Mereology and time travel.Carlo Proietti & Jeroen Smid - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (8):2245-2260.
    Core principles of mereology have been questioned by appealing to time travel scenarios. This paper questions the methodology of employing time travel scenarios to argue against mereology. We show some time travel scenarios are structurally equivalent to more standard ones not involving time travel; and that the three main theories about persistence through time can each solve both the time travel scenario as well as the structurally similar classical scenario. Time travel scenarios that are not similar to more standard arguments (...)
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  28. Not Another Brick in the Wall: An Extensional Mereology for Potential Parts.Ryan Miller - manuscript
    Part is not a univocal term. Uses of parthood and composition that do not obey any supplementation principle have a long philosophical tradition and strong support from contemporary physics. We call such uses potential parts. This paper first shows why potential parts are important and incompatible with supplementation, then provides a formal mereology for such parts inspired by the path-integral approach to quantum electrodynamics.
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  29. Parthood, Identity, and Composition : Studies of Mereology.Jeroen Smid - 2017 - Dissertation, Lund University
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  30. Continua.Lu Chen - 2020 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    The subject of my dissertation is the structure of continua and, in particular, of physical space and time. Consider the region of space you occupy: is it composed of indivisible parts? Are the indivisible parts, if any, extended? Are there infinitesimal parts? The standard view that space is composed of unextended points faces both \textit{a priori} and empirical difficulties. In my dissertation, I develop and evaluate several novel approaches to these questions based on metaphysical, mathematical and physical considerations. In particular, (...)
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  31. From Ideal Worlds to Ideality.Craig Warmke - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
    In common treatments of deontic logic, the obligatory is what's true in all deontically ideal possible worlds. In this article, I offer a new semantics for Standard Deontic Logic with Leibnizian intensions rather than possible worlds. Even though the new semantics furnishes models that resemble Venn diagrams, the semantics captures the strong soundness and completeness of Standard Deontic Logic. Since, unlike possible worlds, many Leibnizian intensions are not maximally consistent entities, we can amend the semantics to invalidate the inference rule (...)
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  32. Free Will and Two Local Determinisms.Andrew Law & Neal A. Tognazzini - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (5):1011-1023.
    Hudson has formulated two local deterministic theses and argued that both are incompatible with freedom. We argue that Hudson has half the story right. Moreover, reflection on Hudson’s theses brings out an important point for debates about freedom generally: that instead of focusing on the notion of entailment, debates about freedom should focus on the notions of explanation and sourcehood. Hudson’s theses provide an excellent case study for why the latter notions ought to take precedence over the former in debates (...)
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  33. Points as Higher-Order Constructs: Whitehead’s Method of Extensive Abstraction.Achille C. Varzi - 2021 - In Stewart Shapiro & Geoffrey Hellman (eds.), The History of Continua: Philosophical and Mathematical Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 347–378.
    Euclid’s definition of a point as “that which has no part” has been a major source of controversy in relation to the epistemological and ontological presuppositions of classical geometry, from the medieval and modern disputes on indivisibilism to the full development of point-free geometries in the 20th century. Such theories stem from the general idea that all talk of points as putative lower-dimensional entities must and can be recovered in terms of suitable higher-order constructs involving only extended regions (or bodies). (...)
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  34. Against Mereological Panentheism.Oliver D. Crisp - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 11 (2):23-41.
    In this paper I offer an argument against one important version of panentheism, that is, mereological panentheism. Although panentheism has proven difficult to define, I provide a working definition of the view, and proceed to argue that given this way of thinking about the doctrine, mereological accounts of panentheism have serious theological drawbacks. I then explore some of these theological drawbacks. In a concluding section I give some reasons for thinking that the classical theistic alternative to panentheism is preferable, all (...)
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  35. Conceptualizing Kant’s Mereology.Benjamin Marschall - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6.
    In the Resolution of the Second Antinomy of the first Critique and the Dynamics chapter of the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Sciences, Kant presents his critical views on mereology, the study of parts and wholes. He endorses an unusual position: Matter is said to be infinitely divisible without being infinitely divided. It would be mistaken to think that matter consists of infinitely many parts—rather, parts “exist only in the representation of them, hence in the dividing”. This view, according to which (...)
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  36. Drawing Boundaries.Barry Smith - 2019 - In Timothy Tambassi (ed.), The Philosophy of GIS. New York: Springer. pp. 137-158.
    In “On Drawing Lines on a Map” (1995), I suggested that the different ways we have of drawing lines on maps open up a new perspective on ontology, resting on a distinction between two sorts of boundaries: fiat and bona fide. “Fiat” means, roughly: human-demarcation-induced. “Bona fide” means, again roughly: a boundary constituted by some real physical discontinuity. I presented a general typology of boundaries based on this opposition and showed how it generates a corresponding typology of the different sorts (...)
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  37. The Nonclassical Mereology of Olfactory Experiences.Błażej Skrzypulec - 2019 - Synthese 198 (1):867-886.
    While there is a growing philosophical interest in analysing olfactory experiences, the mereological structure of odours considered in respect of how they are perceptually experienced has not yet been extensively investigated. The paper argues that odours are perceptually experienced as having a mereological structure, but this structure is significantly different from the spatial mereological structure of visually experienced objects. Most importantly, in the case of the olfactory part-structure, the classical weak supplementation principle is not satisfied. This thesis is justified by (...)
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  38. Conceptual Conservatism and Contingent Composition.Josh Parsons - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (4):327-339.
    ABSTRACT This paper proposes a novel answer to the Special Composition Question. In some respects it agrees with brutalism about composition; in others with universalism. The main novel feature of this answer is the insight I think it gives into what the debate over the Special Composition Question is about.
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  39. Intuitionistic Mereology.Paolo Maffezioli & Achille C. Varzi - 2021 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 18):4277-4302.
    Two mereological theories are presented based on a primitive apartness relation along with binary relations of mereological excess and weak excess, respectively. It is shown that both theories are acceptable from the standpoint of constructive reasoning while remaining faithful to the spirit of classical mereology. The two theories are then compared and assessed with regard to their extensional import.
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  40. Extensionality for Fusions and Pluralities.Jeroen Smid - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 18):1-20.
    One of the more persistent debates in mereology is whether distinct wholes can have the same parts. Extensional mereologists hold that if there is no part that makes the difference, then there is nothing to distinguish the wholes, so sameness of parts implies identity. Non-extensionalists, however, do think there are cases where distinct wholes share all their parts. This paper argues that the kind of argument non-extensionalists employ can also be levelled against a widely accepted extensionality principle of plural logic. (...)
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  41. Mereology: A Philosophical Introduction.Giorgio Lando - 2017 - London, UK: Bloomsbury.
    Parthood and composition are everywhere. The leg of a table is part of the table, the word "Christmas" is part of the sentence "I wish you a merry Christmas", the 13th century is part of the Middle Ages. The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg compose Benelux, the body of a deer is composed of a huge number of cells, the Middle Ages are composed of the Early Middle Ages, High Middle Ages, and Late Middle Ages. Is there really a general theory (...)
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  42. Vedrørende Husserls lære om helheter og deler.Petter Sandstad - 2018 - Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 53 (2-03):150-164.
    A Norwegian translation is here offered of Eugenie Ginsberg’s paper «Zur Husserlschen Lehre von den Ganzen und den Teilen» (in Archiv für systematische Philosophie und Soziologie 32, 1929, 108–120). The paper discusses Husserl’s six theorems from Logical Investigations III, §14. Ginsberg provides new proofs for theorems 1 and 3, and also endorses theorem 5. In contrast, a counter example is given to theorems 2, 4, and 6: However, proofs are supplied for a modified version of these theorems. Furthermore, an additional (...)
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  43. Structures as Relations.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2021 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 11):S2671-S2690.
    I shall explore in this article the hypothesis that structures are relations between the components of complex entities. After having introduced hylomorphism, its major advantages and the major views of the nature of structures, I shall introduce the distinctions between external and internal relations and the one between symmetrical and non-symmetrical relations. I shall also describe the theory of non-symmetrical relations that I accept, i.e., the O-Roles theory, as most structures seem to be external and non-symmetrical relations. Later on, I (...)
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  44. The Paradox of Decrease and Dependent Parts.Alex Moran - 2018 - Ratio 31 (3):273-284.
    This paper is concerned with the paradox of decrease. Its aim is to defend the answer to this puzzle that was propounded by its originator, namely, the Stoic philosopher Chrysippus. The main trouble with this answer to the paradox is that it has the seemingly problematic implication that a material thing could perish due merely to extrinsic change. It follows that in order to defend Chrysippus’ answer to the paradox, one has to explain how it could be that Theon is (...)
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  45. Emergent Quasiparticles. Or How to Get a Rich Physics From a Sober Metaphysics.Alexandre Guay & Olivier Sartenaer - 2018 - In Melinda Fagan, Otávio Bueno & Ruey-Lin Chen (eds.), Individuation, Process and Scientific Practices. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 214-235.
    Among the very architects of the recent re-emergence of emergentism in the physical sciences, Robert B. Laughlin certainly occupies a prominent place. Through a series of works beginning as early as his Nobel lecture in 1998, a lecture given after having been awarded, together with Störmer and Tsui, the Nobel prize in physics for its contribution in the elucidation of the fractional quantum Hall effect, Laughlin openly and relentlessly advocated a strongly anti-reductionistic view of physics – and, more particularly, of (...)
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  46. The Earth and the Aleph.Josh Parsons - manuscript
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  47. Form, Matter, Substance.Kathrin Koslicki - 2018 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    In _Form, Matter, Substance_, Kathrin Koslicki defends a hylomorphic analysis of concrete particular objects (e.g., living organisms). The Aristotelian doctrine of hylomorphism holds that those entities that fall under it are compounds of matter (hulē) and form (morphē or eidos). Koslicki argues that a hylomorphic analysis of concrete particular objects is well-equipped to compete with alternative approaches when measured against a wide range of criteria of success. A successful application of the doctrine of hylomorphism to the special case of concrete (...)
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  48. Towards a Hylomorphic Solution to the Grounding Problem.Kathrin Koslicki - 2018 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements to Philosophy 82:333-364.
    Concrete particular objects (e.g., living organisms) figure saliently in our everyday experience as well as our in our scientific theorizing about the world. A hylomorphic analysis of concrete particular objects holds that these entities are, in some sense, compounds of matter (hūlē) and form (morphē or eidos). The Grounding Problem asks why an object and its matter (e.g., a statue and the clay that constitutes it) can apparently differ with respect to certain of their properties (e.g., the clay’s ability to (...)
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  49. Mereology: A Philosophical Introduction. By Giorgio Lando. [REVIEW]Jeroen Smid - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (272):651-653.
    Mereology: A Philosophical Introduction. By Lando Giorgio.
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  50. Theseus, Imparting and Exparting.Wylie Breckenridge - manuscript
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