Composition is the relation between a whole and its parts--the parts are said to compose the whole; the whole is composed of the parts. But is a whole anything distinct from its parts taken collectively? It is often said that 'a whole is nothing over and above its parts'; but what might we mean by that? Could it be that a whole just is its parts?This collection of essays is the first of its kind to focus on the relationship (...) between composition and identity. Twelve original articles--written by internationally renowned scholars and rising stars in the field--argue for and against the controversial doctrine that composition is identity. An editor's introduction sets out the formal and philosophical groundwork to bring readers to the forefront of the debate. (shrink)
In this paper, I present the thesis of Composition as Identity as I think it should be understood, and reply to some objections to it. My aim is not to argue that CAI is true, but to show how CAI can be true, and push the debate forward in the direction I think it must and should go in light of some new objections.
Some claim that Composition as Identity (CI) entails Mereological Essentialism (ME). If this is right, then we have an effective modus tollens against CI: ME is clearly false, so CI is, too. Rather than deny the conditional, I will argue that a CI theorist should embrace ME. I endorse a theory of modal parts such that ordinary objects are spatially, temporally, and modally extended. Accepting modal parts is certainly beneficial to CI theorists, but it also provides elegant solutions (...) to the traditional puzzles of constitution, making it a competitive move in its own right. (shrink)
Many of us think that ordinary objects – such as tables and chairs – exist. We also think that ordinary objects have parts: my chair has a seat and some legs as parts, for example. But once we are committed to the (seemingly innocuous) thesis that ordinary objects are composed of parts, we then open ourselves up to a whole host of philosophical problems, most of which center on what exactly this composition relation is. Composition as Identity (...) (CI) is the view that the composition relation is the identity relation. While such a view has some advantages, there are many arguments against it. In this essay, I discuss several versions of the most common objection against CI, and show how the CI theorist can maintain that these arguments – contrary their initial intuitive appeal – are nonetheless unsound. (shrink)
Many of us think that ordinary objects – such as tables and chairs – exist. We also think that ordinary objects have parts: my chair has a seat and some legs as parts, for example. But once we are committed to the thesis that ordinary objects are composed of parts, we then open ourselves up to a whole host of philosophical problems, most of which center on what exactly the composition relation is. Composition as Identity is the (...) view that the composition relation is the identity relation. While such a view has some advantages, there are many arguments against it. In this essay, I will briefly canvass three different varieties of Composition as Identity, and suggest why one of them should be preferred over the others. Then I will outline several versions of the most common objection against CI. I will suggest how a CI theorist can respond to these charges by maintaining that some of the arguments are invalid. (shrink)
Many of us think that ordinary objects – such as tables and chairs – exist. We also think that ordinary objects have parts: my chair has a seat and some legs as parts, for example. But once we are committed to the (seemingly innocuous) thesis that ordinary objects are composed of parts, we then open ourselves up to a whole host of philosophical problems, most of which center on what exactly the composition relation is. Composition as Identity (...) (CI) is the view that the composition relation is the identity relation. While such a view has some advantages, there are many arguments against it. In this essay, I will briefly canvass three different varieties of Composition as Identity, and suggest why one of them should be preferred over the others. Then I will outline several versions of the most common objection against CI. I will suggest how a CI theorist can respond to these charges by maintaining that some of the arguments are invalid. (In part 2, I show how a CI theorist can maintain that the remaining arguments, while valid, are unsound). (shrink)
Orthodoxy says that the thesis that composition is identity entails universalism: the claim that any collection of entities has a sum. If this is true it counts in favour of CAI, since a thesis about the nature of composition that settles the otherwise intractable special composition question is desirable. But I argue that it is false: CAI is compatible with the many forms of restricted composition, and SCQ is no easier to answer given CAI than (...) otherwise. Furthermore, in seeing why this is the case we reveal an objection to CAI: that it allows for the facts concerning what there is to be settled whilst leaving open the question about what is identical to what. (shrink)
The general composition question asks “what are the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions any xs and any y must satisfy in order for it to be true that those xs compose that y?” Although this question has received little attention, there is an interesting and theoretically fruitful answer. Namely, strong composition as identity (SCAI): necessarily, for any xs and any y, those xs compose y iff those xs are identical to y. SCAI is theoretically fruitful because if (...) it is true, then there is an answer to one of the most difficult and intractable questions of mereology (The Simple Question). In this paper, I introduce the identity account of simplicity and argue that if SCAI is true then this identity account of simplicity is as well. I consider an objection to the identity account of simplicity. Ultimately, I find this objection unsuccessful. (shrink)
I argue that Composition as Identity blocks the plural version of Cantor's Theorem, and that therefore the plural version of Cantor's Theorem can no longer be uncritically appealed to. As an example, I show how this result blocks a recent argument by Hawthorne and Uzquiano.
Moderate composition as identity holds that there is a generalized identity relation, “being the same portion of reality,” of which composition and numerical identity are distinct species. Composition is a genuine kind of identity; but unlike numerical identity, it fails to satisfy Leibniz’s Law. A composite whole and its parts differ with respect to their numerical properties: the whole is one; the parts are many. Moderate composition as identity faces the (...) challenge: how, in the absence of Leibniz’s Law, can one characterize what counts as a genuine kind of identity? This paper explores a promising answer: a genuine kind of identity must satisfy a version of Leibniz’s Law restricted to properties that ascribe qualitative character. Strong composition as identity holds that there is only one identity relation, that it satisfies Leibniz’s Law, and that the parts are identical with the whole that they compose. Strong composition as identity faces the challenge of showing that numerical properties do not provide counterexamples to Leibniz’s Law, and doing so in a way that is compatible with the framework of plural logic that is needed to formulate the theory. The most promising way to do this is to hold that plural logic is fundamental at the level of our representations, but not fundamental at the level of being. At the level of being, portions of reality cannot be characterized as either singular or plural. It turns out that the proposed moderate theory and the proposed strong theory are one and the same. In spite of its many attractions, I reject it. The main issue has to do with whether slice-sensitive emergent properties are possible. I argue that they are, making use both of specific examples and general principles of modal plenitude. I do not claim that my arguments are irresistible. But they cannot be evaded as easily as a related argument against strong composition as identity given by Kris McDaniel. I critically examine McDaniel’s argument to pave the way for my own. (shrink)
According to ‘composition as identity’, a composite object is identical to all its parts taken together. Thus, a plurality of composite objects is identical to the plurality of those objects’ parts. This has the consequence that, e.g., the bricks which compose a brick wall are identical to the atoms which compose those bricks, and hence that the plurality of bricks must include each of those atoms. This consequence of CAI is in direct conflict with the standard analysis of (...) plural definite descriptions. According to that analysis, the denotation of ‘the bricks’ can include only bricks. It seems, then, that if CAI is true, ‘the bricks’ doesn’t denote anything; more generally, if CAI is true, there are fewer pluralities than we ordinarily think. I respond to this argument by developing an alternative analysis of plural descriptions which allows the denotation of ‘the bricks’ to include non-bricks. Thus, we can accept CAI, while still believing in all the pluralities we could want. As a bonus, my approach to plural descriptions and plural comprehension blocks recent arguments to the effect that CAI entails compositional nihilism. (shrink)
Philosophers disagree whether composition as identity entails mereological universalism. Bricker :264–294, 2016) has recently considered an argument which concludes that composition as identity supports universalism. The key step in this argument is the thesis that any objects are identical to some object, which Bricker justifies with the principle of the universality of identity. I will spell out this principle in more detail and argue that it has an unexpected consequence. If the universality of identity (...) holds, then composition as identity not only leads us to universalism, but also leads to the view that there are no mereological atoms. (shrink)
Some mereologists boast that their view of parts and wholes is ontologically innocent.[Lewis 1991: 72-87] They claim that a fusion is nothing over and above its parts; once you’ve committed to the parts, you get the fusion for free. In other words, fusions are not a further ontological commitment beyond the commitment to the parts. There are various proposals to explain how it is that fusions can come about so cheap. Perhaps the most straightforward of these explanations, and the one (...) I will be concerned with in this paper, is to accept the Strong Composition Thesis:2, 3.. (shrink)
Composition as Identity is, roughly, the thesis that the parts of a whole, taken collectively, are in some sense identical with the whole. Einar Duenger Bohn argues for Universalism from CAI. Universalism says that composition is totally unrestricted: wherever two or more objects occur, an instance of composition occurs, however unnatural or gerrymandered. Bohn’s argument relies on inferences with generic quantifiers, but he does not provide a clear account of generic quantification. My argument is that on (...) the most plausible approach to thinking about such inferences, the argument fails. (shrink)
Strong Composition as Identity is the thesis that necessarily, for any xs and any y, those xs compose y iff those xs are non-distributively identical to y. Some have argued against this view as follows: if some many things are non-distributively identical to one thing, then what’s true of the many must be true of the one. But since the many are many in number whereas the one is not, the many cannot be identical to the one. Hence (...) is mistaken. Although I am sympathetic to this objection, in this paper, I present two responses on behalf of the theorist. I also show that once the defender of accepts one of these two responses, that defender will be able to answer The Special Composition Question. (shrink)
In this paper I address two important objections to the theory called ‘ Composition as Identity’ : the ‘wall-bricks-and-atoms problem’, and the claim that CAI entails mereological nihilism. I aim to argue that the best version of CAI capable of addressing both problems is the theory I will call ‘Atomic Composition as Identity’ which consists in taking the plural quantifier to range only over proper pluralities of mereological atoms and every non-atomic entity to be identical to (...) the plurality of atoms it fuses. I will proceed in three main steps. First, I will defend Sider’s Composition as identity. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 211–221, 2014) idea of weakening the comprehension principle for pluralities and I will show that :219–235, 2016a) it can ward off both the WaBrA problem and the threat of mereological nihilism. Second, I will argue that CAI-theorists should uphold an ‘atomic comprehension principle’ which, jointly with CAI, entails that there are only proper pluralities of mereological atoms. Finally, I will present a novel reading of the ‘one of’ relation that not only avoids the problems presented by Yi Composition as identity. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 169–191, 2014) and Calosi :429–443, 2016b, Am Philos Q 55:281–292, 2018) but can also help ACAI-theorists to make sense of the idea that a composite entity is both one and many. (shrink)
According to the thesis known as ‘Composition as Identity’ (‘CAI’), every entity is identical to the parts it fuses. Many authors in the literature acknowledge that, in spite of its controversial character, one attractive virtue of CAI is its apparent ability to give a straightforward account of the innocence of mereology. In this paper I will present a simple argument according to which CAI entails that no composite entity can be said to be ontologically innocent in the relevant (...) sense. After having shown that said argument is independent from the problems surrounding the infamous ‘Collapse Principle’, I will conclude that CAI-theorists should endorse a suitably ‘restricted’ version of CAI. In the final part of the paper I will then argue that the best restricted version of CAI is the theory according to which every composite entity is identical to the plurality of its atomic parts. (shrink)
Composition as identity, as I understand it, is a theory of the composite structure of reality. The theory’s underlying logic is irreducibly plural; its fundamental primitive is a generalized identity relation that takes either plural or singular arguments. Strong versions of the theory that incorporate a generalized version of the indiscernibility of identicals are incompatible with the framework of plural logic, and should be rejected. Weak versions of the theory that are based on the idea that (...) class='Hi'>composition is merely analogous to identity are too weak to be interesting, lacking in metaphysical consequence. I defend a moderate version according to which composition is a kind of identity, and argue that the difference is metaphysically substantial, not merely terminological. I then consider whether the notion of generalized identity, though fundamental, can be elucidated in modal terms by reverse engineering Hume’s Dictum. Unfortunately, for realists about possible worlds, such as myself,... (shrink)
When the necessity of identity is combined with composition as identity, the contingency of composition is at risk. In the extant literature, either NI is seen as the basis for a refutation of CAI or CAI is associated with a theory of modality, such that: either NI is renounced ; or CC is renounced. In this paper, we investigate the prospects of a new variety of CAI, which aims to preserve both NI and CC. This new (...) variety of CAI is the quite natural product of the attempt to make sense of CAI on the background of a broadly Kripkean view of modality, such that one and the same entity is allowed to exist at more than one possible world. CCAI introduces a world-relative kind of identity, which is different from standard identity, and claims that composition is this kind of world-relative identity. CCAI manages to preserve NI and CC. We compare CCAI with Gibbard’s and Gallois’ doctrines of contingent identity and we show that CCAI can be sensibly interpreted as a form of Weak CAI, that is of the thesis that composition is not standard identity, yet is significantly similar to it. (shrink)
Composition as Identity claims that a composite object is identical to its parts taken collectively. This is often understood as reducing the identity of composite objects to the identity of their parts. The author argues that Composition as Identity is not such a reduction. His central claim is that an intensional notion of composition, which is sensitive to the arrangement of the composing objects, avoids criticisms based on an extensional understanding of composition. (...) The key is to understand composition as an intensional kind of identity relation, many-one identity. Eventually, the author suggests an arrangement condition for many-one identity that allows him to distinguish between composite objects, even if they have the same parts. (shrink)
In this paper, we focus on two related reductive theses in metaphysics—Humean Supervenience and Composition as Identity—and on their status in light of the indications coming from science, in particular quantum mechanics. While defenders of these reductive theses claim that they can be updated so as to resist the quantum evidence, we provide arguments against this contention. We claim that physics gives us reason for thinking that both Humean Supervenience and Composition as Identity are at least (...) contingently false, as the very process of composition determines, at least in some cases, the nature of composed systems. The argument has essentially to do with the fact that denying the reductive theses in question allows one to provide better explanations for the quantum evidence. (shrink)
Let’s start with compositional pluralism. Elsewhere I’ve defended compositional pluralism, which we can provisionally understand as the doctrine that there is more than one basic parthood relation. (You might wonder what I mean by “basic”. We’ll discuss this in a bit.) On the metaphysics I currently favor, there are regions of spacetime and material objects, each of which enjoy bear a distinct parthood relation to members of their own kind. Perhaps there are other kinds of objects that enjoy a kind (...) of parthood relation other than the ones enjoyed by material objects and regions of spacetime. Perhaps, for example, there are facts; I’ve been wavering over whether to embrace these entities for years now. However, I’m reasonably confident that if there are facts than the kind of parthood relation that facts bear to that which composes them is not the kind of parthood relation enjoyed by material objects or regions of spacetime. More on why I am reasonably confident later. (shrink)
Some have it that wholes are, somehow, identical to their parts. This doctrine is as alluring as it is puzzling. But in this paper, I show that the doctrine is inconsistent with two widely accepted theses. Something has to go.
In this paper, I argue that the debate on Composition as Identity—the thesis that any composite object is identical to its parts—is deadlocked because both the defenders and the detractors of the claim have so far failed to take its philosophical core at face value and have, as a result, defended and criticized respectively something that is not Composition as Identity. After establishing how Composition as Identity should properly be understood and proposing for it (...) a new interpretation centered around the novel notion of metaphysical information, I set forth a strategy to defend it that crucially rests on the indefinite extensibility of the domain of quantification. I eventually suggest that “Composition as Analysis” is a name that better reflects the content and theoretical proposal of the thesis that Composition as Identity is supposed to be. (shrink)
This paper provides a critical examination of three related attempts to defend Composition as Identity (CI), namely the thesis that if some things compose something, then they are it. First, it will be argued against Donald Baxter’s view of composition as ‘loose identity’ that by construing composition as strictly a many-many relation, the view trivializes CI, and cannot be an option for the advocate of CI who takes composition as a genuine many-one relation. Second, (...) it is argued against Baxter’s modified view of composition as ‘cross-count identity’ that the ‘are’ in ‘they are it’ cannot be viewed as expressing cross-count identity. Lastly, it is argued against Aaron Cotnoir’s view of composition as ‘general identity’ that it amounts to resorting back to Baxter’s old view of composition as a many-many relation. (shrink)
‘It feels like I have lost a part of myself’ is frequently uttered by those grieving the death of a loved one. Despite the ubiquity of such utterances, and the palpable sense that they express something true, few philosophers have considered what, if anything, accounts for their truth. Here, I develop a suggestion from Donald Baxter according to which Composition as Identity provides us a means to understand the grief utterances literally. In doing so, I identify and develop (...) a version of Leibniz's Law required for Composition as Identity to account for the truth of the grief utterances. In turn, this principle helps shed light on Composition as Identity's central claim: that the parts are identical to the whole. By considering objections to the resulting view, I construct a list of desiderata for other philosophers interested in accounting for the grief utterances. (shrink)
This paper provides new arguments for the following claim: either strong composition as identity cannot retain the full strength of both the logical principles of one-one identity and its semantical principles or it only delivers cases of boring composition in that it entails mereological nihilism.
I show that a particular version of Hume's Dictum together with the falsity of Composition as Identity entails an incoherency, so either that version of Hume's Dictum is false or Composition as Identity is true. I conditionally defend the particular version of Hume's Dictum in play, and hence conditionally conclude that Composition as Identity is true. I end by suggesting an alternative way out for a persistent foe of Composition as Identity, namely (...) mereological nihilism. (shrink)
We define mereologically invariant composition as the relation between a whole object and its parts when the object retains the same parts during a time interval. We argue that mereologically invariant composition is identity between a whole and its parts taken collectively. Our reason is that parts and wholes are equivalent measurements of a portion of reality at different scales in the precise sense employed by measurement theory. The purpose of these scales is the numerical representation of (...) primitive relations between quantities of being. To show this, we prove representation and uniqueness theorems for composition. Thus, mereologically invariant composition is trans-scalar identity. (shrink)
We argue that, insofar as one accepts either supersubstantivalism or strong composition as identity for the usual reasons, one has (defeasible) reasons to accept the other as well. Thus, all else being equal, one ought to find the package that combines both views—the Identity Package—more attractive than any rival package that includes one, but not the other, of either supersubstantivalism or composition as identity.
Composition is Identity is the thesis that a whole is, strict and literally, its parts considered collectively. Mereological Nihilism is the thesis that there are no composite objects whatsoever instead. This paper argues that they are equivalent, at least insofar as Composition is Identity is phrased in a particular way. It then addresses some consequences of such equivalence.
It is a common view that if composition as identity is true, then so is mereological universalism (the thesis that all objects have a mereological fusion). Various arguments have been advanced in favour of this: (i) there has been a recent argument by Merricks, (ii) some claim that Universalism is entailed by the ontological innocence of the identity relation, (or that ontological innocence undermines objections to universalism) and (iii) it is entailed by the law of selfidentity. After (...) a preliminary introduction to the competing theories of persistence (necessary for a discussion of Merricks’ argument) I examine each in turn and demonstrate how they fail. I conclude that the prejudice that if composition as identity is true then Universalism is true, is unwarranted. Thus one motivation for believing Universalism is lost and those who believe composition as identity should now be receptive to some form of restricted composition. (shrink)
Composition as Identity is the view that an object is identical to its parts taken collectively. I elaborate and defend a theory based on this idea: composition is a kind of identity. Since this claim is best presented within a plural logic, I develop a formal system of plural logic. The principles of this system differ from the standard views on plural logic because one of my central claims is that identity is a relation which (...) comes in a variety of forms and only one of them obeys substitution unrestrictedly. I justify this departure from orthodoxy by showing some problems which result from attempts to avoid inconsistencies within plural logic by means of postulating other non-singular terms besides plural terms. Thereby, some of the main criticisms raised against Composition as Identity can be addressed. Further, I argue that the way objects are arranged is relevant with respect to the question which object they compose, i.e. to which object they are identical to. This helps to meet a second group of arguments against Composition as Identity. These arguments aim to show that identifying composite objects on the basis of the identity of their parts entails, contrary to our common sense view, that rearranging the parts of a composite object does not leave us with a different object. Moreover, it allows us to carve out the intensional aspects of Composition as Identity and to defend mereological universalism, the claim that any objects compose some object. Much of the pressure put on the latter view can be avoided by distinguishing the question whether some objects compose an object from the question what object they compose. Eventually, I conclude that Composition as Identity is a coherent and plausible position, as long as we take identity to be a more complex relation than commonly assumed. (shrink)