From Unity to Wholeness

John Gabriel 1
  • 1 Department of Philosophy, Washington University in Saint Louis, Campus Box 1073, 1 Brookings Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63130, USA
John Gabriel

Abstract

Everyday experience presents us with a world of ordinary objects, but philosophers struggle to devise a useful principle of composition that even comes close to generating just those composites we perceive the world to contain. This paper presents such a principle as a first step toward defending “object dispositionalism” as a theory of material objects. According to object dispositionalism, a plurality composes a whole just when it has the disposition to cause us to perceive a unity in the region it occupies and because it possesses features that in combination realize that disposition. Sections “Object dispositionalism” and “Object dispositionalism’s color counterpart” introduce object dispositionalism and argue it satisfies plausible desiderata for a theory of material objects extant views do not. Relying on cognitive psychologists’ research on object perception, sections “The disposition to what?” through “The general mechanism” explicate the manifestation and basis of the causal power object dispositionalists propose is present wherever composition occurs. Sections “Why object perception researchers are realists” and “When we disagree” describe the perceivers with and conditions in which that causal power manifests and argues object-perception variation doesn’t undermine object dispositionalism’s status as a realist view.

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