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«There are many arguments against composition as identity.1 One of the more prominent of these maintains that composition as identity (CAI) entails ...»

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Take (ii). Even if CAI solves puzzles of co-locations, by accepting modal parts, we are now giving a decidedly different answer to co-locations puzzles (much like the temporal parts theorist does with seemingly co-located objects that have distinct temporal careers). That is, co-location is explained away as a case of mere (world) overlap on a modal parts view. So an appeal to CAI is (seemingly) not even needed. So why do we need CAI at all? It is true that, for the usual puzzles in the literature, it is the modal parts theory that will (seemingly) be doing most of the work. But this is an illusion. For one thing, there is still the question as to what the relation is between the (transworld) table and its (spatio-temporal-world) parts. CAI has an answer: identity. A modal parts theory on its own is silent on this matter. So CAI is doing some work here, even if the work is done further back than one had initially thought.

Second—and more importantly, however—everyone in the literature seems to accept cases of (partial) overlap as ubiquitous and unproblematic.45 But this seems as metaphysically irresponsible as blithely accepting total overlap with no explanation. If complete (spatial, temporal or modal) overlap is a problem (as the puzzles of co-location illustrate), then partial overlap should be, too.

Isolate the overlapping parts. What is their relation? CAI has an answer: identity. Other views (including modal parts) do not. So even if it seems that CAI paired with modal parts is relying too As opposed to some sort of supervenience view, or any view where the composition relation is anything short of strict identity. Then, I take it, it is quite a mystery how we get the sums for free.

Everyone who accepts overlapping parts to begin with, that is.

much on the latter to solve metaphysical problems, this is too quick of an assessment; CAI is doing work on all cases of mereological overlap, even the partial ones.

There is much more to say here, of course. We still need some independent arguments in favor of modal parts46, and there are surely other objections against it that need to be addressed. But I hope I have at least put modal parts on the table, and shown how it dovetails nicely with CAI.

Moreover, if modal parts is a view worthy of serious attention, then we must also reconsider mereological essentialism. For if I am right that modal parts make (at least some understanding of) mereological essentialism plausible, then any views and arguments which have heretofore relied on the falsity of mereological essentialism, must now be reconsidered. At the very least, I hope I have shown that a class of modal objections against CAI—ones that rely on the supposed falsity of mereological essentialism—are undermined, leaving composition as identity a competitive view.47

–  –  –

Baxter, Donald (1988a) ‘Identity in the Loose and Popular Sense.’ Mind 97: 575–82.

—— (1988b) ‘Many-One Identity.’ Philosophical Papers 17: 193–216.

—— (1989) ‘Identity through Time and the Discernibility of Identicals.’ Analysis 49.3: 125–31.

—— (1999) ‘The Discernibility of Identicals.’ Journal of Philosophical Research 24: 37–55.

—— (ms) ‘Identity, Discernibility, and Composition.’ http://www.philosophy.uconn.edu/department/baxter/Id%20Dis%20Comp%20draft.pdf.

Brock, Stuart (1993) ‘Modal Fictionalism: A Response to Rosen.’ Mind 102(405): 147–150.

Cameron, Ross (ms) ‘Parts generate the whole but they are not identical to it.’ Although see Wallace (ms).

Moreover, adopting a modal parts view is not the only move available to a CAI theorist against the modal objection.

She could, for example, take de re modal predications as relative, context sensitive, or world-indexed, etc. But adopting modal parts is certainly the move I prefer, as I think the pairing fortifies both CAI and modal parts.

http://www.personal.leeds.ac.uk/~phlrpc/parthood_and_generation.pdf ____ (2011) ‘Composition as Identity Doesn’t Settle the Special Composition Question.’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

Chisholm, Roderick (1967) ‘Identity Through Possible Worlds: Some Questions.’ Nous 1: 1-8.

Reprinted in Loux (ed.) The Possible and the Actual.

Divers, John (1995) ‘Modal fictionalism cannot deliver possible worlds semantics.’ Analysis,55/2:


Gibbard, Allan (1975) ‘Contingent Identity.’ Journal of Philosophical Logic 4: 187-221.

Hale, Bob (1995a) ‘A Desperate Fix.’ Analysis 55(2): 74–81.

––– (1995b) ‘Modal Fictionalism: A Simple Dilemma.’ Analysis 55(2): 63–67.

Hawley, Katherine (2001) How Things Persist. Oxford. Oxford University Press.

Hinchliff, Mark (1996) ‘Puzzle of Change.’ Nous 30: 119-136.

Kaplan, David (1978) ‘Transworld Heir Lines.’ Reprinted in Loux (ed.) The Possible and the Actual.

Lewis, David (1986) On the Plurality of Worlds. Blackwell.

_____ (1991) Parts of Classes. Blackwell.

Loux, Michael, ed. (1979) The Possible and the Actual. Cornell University Press.

Markosian, Ned (1998) ‘Brutal Composition.’ Philosophical Studies 92: 211-249.

_____ (2005) ‘Restricted Composition.’ in Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics, Hawthorne, Zimmerman, Sider (eds.), Basil Blackwell (2008) 341-363.

McDaniel, Kris (2004) ‘Modal Realism with Overlap.’ Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82(1): 137-52.

_____ (2010) ‘Parts and Wholes.’ Philosophy Compass 5(5) 412-25.

Merricks, Trenton (1999) ‘Composition as Identity, Mereological Essentialism, and Counterpart Theory.’ Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77:2 192-195.

Merricks, Trenton (2003) Objects and Persons. Oxford University Press.

Paul, L.A. (2002) ‘Logical Parts.’ Nous 36:4 578-596.

Plantinga, Alvin (1973) ‘Transworld Identity or Worldbound Individuals?’ Originally in Logic and Ontology, Munitz (ed.). Reprinted in Loux (ed.) (1979) The Possible and the Actual.

Rosen, Gideon (1993) ‘A Problem for Fictionalism About Possible Worlds.’ Analysis 53(2): 71–81.

_____ (1990) ‘Modal Fictionalism.’ Mind, 99(395): 327–354.

_____ (1995) ‘Modal Fictionalism Fixed.’ Analysis, 55(2): 67–73.

Sider, Theodore (1997) ‘Four-Dimensionalism.’ Philosophical Review 106: 197-231.

____ (2001) Four-Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time. Oxford.

____ (2007) ‘Parthood.’ Philosophical Review 116: 51-91.

____ (forthcoming) ‘Against Parthood.’ In (eds.) Bennett and Zimmerman, Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, volume 8 (2013). Oxford: OUP.

Simons, Peter (1987) Parts: A Study in Ontology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Unger, Peter (1979) ‘I Do Not Exist.’ Graham F. MacDonald (ed.) Perception and Identity. Cornell University Press.

Wallace, Megan (2011) ‘Composition as Identity: Part 1’ and ‘Composition as Identity: Part 2.’ Philosophy Compass 6(11): 804-827.

Wallace, Megan (ms) ‘The Argument from Vagueness for Modal Parts.’ http://www.uky.edu/~mwa229/AVMP2011.pdf Weatherson, Brian (ms) ‘Stages, Worms, Slices and Lumps.’ http://brian.weatherson.org/swsl.pdf Weatherson, Brain ‘Modal Parts.’ (TAR entry 2003) http://tar.weatherson.org/2003/08/28/modalparts/ Wiggins, David (1980) Sameness and Substance. Oxford. Blackwell.

Van Cleeve, James L. (1985) ‘Three Versions of the Bundle Theory.’ Philosophical Studies, 47:1.

Van Inwagen, Peter (1981) ‘The Doctrine of Arbitrary Undetatched Parts.’ Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 62 123-137.

Van Inwagen, Peter (1990) Material Beings. Cornell University Press.

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