Res Philosophica 99 (1):39-65 (2022)

Adam Harmer
University of California, Riverside
Leibniz famously argues that there must be simple substances, since there are composites, and a composite is nothing but a collection of simples. I reconstruct Leibniz’s argument, showing that it relies on a commitment to mereological nihilism. I show further that Leibniz endorses mereological nihilism as early as the 1680s and offers both direct and indirect support for this commitment: indirect support via the notion of unity and direct support via the notion of persistence. I then assess the alignment of Leibniz’s mereological nihilism with his other commitments during the 1680s, including his potential commitment to corporeal substances. I argue that any viable interpretation of Leibniz’s commitment to corporeal substances is compatible with mereological nihilism, which provides a new perspective both on Leibniz’s developing theory of substance and on his mature theory of simple substance.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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DOI 10.11612/resphil.2141
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References found in this work BETA

Monism: The Priority of the Whole.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (1):31-76.
Against Parthood.Theodore Sider - 2013 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 8:237–293.
Things and Their Parts.Kit Fine - 1999 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 23 (1):61-74.
Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View.Lynne Rudder Baker - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210):127-129.
Objects and Persons. [REVIEW]Michael B. Burke - 2002 - Philosophical Review 111 (4):586-588.

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