Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 23, 2017

Material Objects and Their Parts

Bill Brewer
From the journal Metaphysica

Abstract

Commonsense appears committed to enduring macroscopic material objects that exclude each other from their precise location at all times. I elaborate a specific version of the commonsense commitment and consider its merits in connection with an important line of objection concerning the relation between material objects and their parts. The central thesis is that amongst persisting macroscopic material objects there are Natural Continuants, NCs, whose unity at a time and over time is entirely independent of our concepts, which occupy their precise spatial location Exclusively at all times, and which ground Artificial Continuants, ACs, by partition, collection, and approximation. I call the position the Natural Continuants View (NCV). Section “The Natural Continuants View” offers a provisional characterization. Section “Spatial Partition” considers a familiar puzzle concerning the idea that material objects may survive the loss of a part in order to provide intuitive motivation for (NCV) and to elaborate its commitments concerning (spatial) parts. The result is an account of the way in which NCs ground ACs by spatial partition. Section “Collection and Approximation” turns to a consideration of collections and assemblages of NCs. Section “Conclusion” concludes.

Acknowledgment

I am grateful to the following for helpful comments on previous versions of this material: Emma Borg, Josh Dever, Johan Gersel, Bob Hale, John Hawthorne, Chris Hughes, Nick Jones, Rory Madden, David Owens, David Papineau, Sebastian Rodl, Mark Sainsbury, Matt Soteriou, Nick Shea, James Stazicker, Mark Textor, and Michael Tye.

References

Ayers, M. 1974. “Individuals Without Sortals.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 4:113–148.10.1080/00455091.1974.10716925Search in Google Scholar

Ayers, M. 1991a. “Substance: Prolegomena to a Realist Theory of Identity.” Journal of Philosophy 88:69–90.10.2307/2026907Search in Google Scholar

Ayers, M. 1991b. Locke, Volume II: Ontology. London: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Brewer, B. 2015: “Exclusive Individuals”. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume 89, 125–142.Search in Google Scholar

Chisholm, R. 1973. “Parts as Essential to Their Wholes.” Review of Metaphysics 26:581–603.Search in Google Scholar

Chisholm, R. 1975. “Mereological Essentialism: Further Considerations.” Review of Metaphysics 28:477–484.Search in Google Scholar

Dorr, C., and G. Rosen 2002. “Composition as Fiction.” In The Blackwell Guide to Metaphysics, edited by R. Gale. Oxford: Balckwell.Search in Google Scholar

Fine, K. 1999. “Things and Their Parts.” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 23:61–74.10.1111/1475-4975.00004Search in Google Scholar

Gallois, A. 1998. Occasions of Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Geach, P. 1967. “Identity.” Review of Metaphysics 21:3–12.Search in Google Scholar

Geach, P. 1973. “Ontological Relativity and Relative Identity.” In Logic and Ontology, edited by M. Munitz. New York: New York University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Geach, P. 1980. Reference and Generality. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Griffin, N. 1977. Relative Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Heller, M. 1984. “Temporal Parts of Four Dimensional Objects.” Philosophical Studies 46:323–334.10.1017/CBO9781139166409.002Search in Google Scholar

Heller, M. 1990. The Ontology of Physical Objects: Four Dimensional Hunks of Matter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9781139166409Search in Google Scholar

Jones, N. 2015. “Multiple Constitution.” In Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Vol. 9, edited by K. Bennett and D. Zimmerman. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198729242.003.0009Search in Google Scholar

Lewis, D. 1986. On the Plurality of Worlds. Oxford: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar

Mackie, J. 1976. Problems from Locke. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/0198750366.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Madden, R. MS: “The Persistence of Animate Organisms”.Search in Google Scholar

Merricks, T. 2001. Objects and Persons. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/0199245363.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Quine, W. 1950. “Identity, Ostension and Hypostasis.” Journal of Philosophy 47:621–633.10.2307/2021795Search in Google Scholar

Quine, W. 1960. Word and Object. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Sider, T. 2001. Four-Dimensionalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/019924443X.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Sider, T. 2013. “Against Parthood.” In Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Vol. 8, edited by K. Bennett and D. Zimmerman. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199682904.003.0006Search in Google Scholar

Thompson, J. 1998. “The Statue and the Clay.” Nous 32:149–173.10.1111/0029-4624.00094Search in Google Scholar

Unger, P. 1979. “I Do Not Exist.” In Perception and Identity, edited by G. MacDonald. London: Macmillan.10.1007/978-1-349-04862-5_10Search in Google Scholar

Van Cleve, J. 1986. “Mereological Essentialism, Mereological Conjunctivism and Identity through Time.” In Midwest Studies in Philosophy, edited by P. French and H. Wettstein, xi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.10.1111/j.1475-4975.1986.tb00491.xSearch in Google Scholar

Van Inwagen, P. 1990. Material Beings. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Wiggins, D. 1967. Identity and Spatio-Temporal Continuity. Oxford: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar

Wiggins, D. 1968. “On Being in the Same Place at the Same Time.” Philosophical Review 77:90–95.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716624.003.0002Search in Google Scholar

Wiggins, D. 1980. Sameness and Substance. Oxford: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar

Wiggins, D. 2001. Sameness and Substance Renewed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511612756Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2017-3-23
Published in Print: 2017-4-1

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Scroll Up Arrow