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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 21, 2014

Against the Maximality Principle

  • C. S. Sutton EMAIL logo
From the journal Metaphysica


To hold that only one conscious thing is sitting in your chair, philosophers have appealed to maximality: If a property M is maximal, then anything that has property M does not have large proper parts that have property M. Philosophers have said that ordinary objects are maximal, including houses, cats, rocks, and have argued by analogy that consciousness is maximal. I argue that the maximality principle mistakenly excludes some members of a kind. Thus, it is not the correct principle to explain why, for example, you are conscious but the proper part that is all-of-you-but-your-arm is not conscious.


For suggestions on earlier drafts of this paper, thanks to Donald Smith and the members of his Richmond-area paper workshop, and to Andrew Bailey, Trenton Merricks, Peter Sutton, and an audience at the 2014 meeting of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology.


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Published Online: 2014-10-21
Published in Print: 2014-11-28

©2014 by De Gruyter

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