New Arguments for Composition as Identity

Dissertation, University of Sydney (2015)
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Abstract

Almost all philosophers interested in parthood and composition think that a composite object is a further thing, numerically distinct from the objects that compose it. Call this the orthodox view. I argue that the orthodox view is false, and that a composite object is identical to the objects that compose it (collectively). This view is known as composition as identity. I argue that, despite its unpopularity, there are many reasons to favour com- position as identity over the orthodox view. First, defenders of the orthodox view have not offered complete theories of composition. For instance, they have not given adequate accounts of heterogeneous properties like being black and white in composite objects. Nor have they given satisfactory explanations for the necessary connections that hold between composite objects and their proper parts. Second, there appears to be no good way for defenders of the orthodox view to remedy this. Any account of the heterogeneous properties of composite objects which is compatible with the orthodox view faces serious problems, as does any account of the necessary connections between an object and its proper parts. Composition as identity, on the other hand, is compatible with intuitive responses to both of these challenges. Third, there are a number of strong arguments in favour of composition as identity. For example, composition as identity fits our evidence about the way the world is better than the orthodox view does. It also allows us to easily maintain that composition sometimes occurs and sometimes does not—i.e., it allows us to easily maintain that composition is restricted. The orthodox view does not. The theories of composition put forward by most philosophers are at best incomplete or in need of improvement. At worst, they are false and composition as identity is true.

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Michael J. Duncan
University of Sydney

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References found in this work

Does conceivability entail possibility.David J. Chalmers - 2002 - In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 145--200.
From a Logical Point of View.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1953 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Monism: The Priority of the Whole.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (1):31-76.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - New York: Routledge.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1905 - Mind 14 (56):479-493.

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