Amending and Defending Constitution

Abstract

I begin by evaluating four theories: mereological essentialism, the occasional identity thesis, four-dimensionalism and the constitution view. I compare the solutions these theories offer to puzzles of material constitution with particular attention being paid to their treatment of Leibniz’s Law, the ontological status of objects and the distinction between objects and their matter. If a lump of clay constitutes a statue, the lump of clay and the statue are metaphysically distinct such that they are distinct kinds, but numerically one thing—the statue as constituted by the lump of clay. I defend this view against criticism that it collapses into identity or substance dualism, exploding reality with unnecessary objects. I amend constitution to better account for cases of composite objects and to better solve puzzle cases involving change in parts over time. Finally, I go on to apply constitution to an unorthodox puzzle for theories of objects—the problem of the individuation of events. Events are things that happen. If we grant that events are in the same or similar ontological category to objects, there is a strong analogy between the problem of material constitution and the problem of events. In signing the US Constitution you may also do your bit to ratify it. However, the signing and the ratifying have different properties. I suggest that the signing and the ratifying are distinct in kind, but are not two separate events. I develop a constitution relation—a contingent, irreflexive, asymmetric and transitive relation—for events. This relation has the potential to be applied to the mind-body problem.

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