Material Objects and Their Parts

Bill Brewer 1
  • 1 Department of Philosophy, King’s College London
Bill Brewer

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.

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