In defense of disjointism

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Disjointism is the view that co-located objects do not share any parts. A human-shaped statue is composed from a torso, head and limbs; the co-located lumpof clay is only composed from chunks of clay. This essay discusses the tenability of this relatively neglected view, focusing on two objections. The first objection is that disjointism implies co-located copies of microphysical particles. I argue that it doesn’t imply this and that there are more plausible disjointist views of tiny parts available. The second objection is that disjointism is at a loss to explain how material objects can be co-located and why the weights of co-located objects don’t add up. The standard pluralist account appeals to the fact that co-located objects stand in mereological relations and this account is not available to the disjointist. I sketch an alternative account that appeals to a notion of ‘material identity’: the statue is taken to be the same matter as the lump of clay. The resort to a new theoretical primitive may seem to invite a quick rejection on grounds of unnecessary theoretical complexity but I argue that an abductive comparison with rival forms of pluralism shows that such a rejection is misguided.

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Martin A. Lipman
Leiden University

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