Review of Hoffman & Rosenkrantz's 'Substance: Its Nature and Existence'
Zimmerman (Dean)
Source: Philosophical Review 108.1, Jan. 1999, pp. 118-122
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. This book addresses two basic questions:
    • (1) What is the proper philosophical analysis of the concept of substance? and
    • (2) What kinds of compound substances are there?
    The second question is mainly addressed by asking what relations among objects are necessary and sufficient for their coming to compose a larger whole.
  2. The first 72 pages of the book contain a short history of attempts to answer the first question, and a brief presentation of the analysis the authors defend at length in their earlier book, Substance Among Other Categories (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
  3. In the remaining 119 pages, the authors take up the second question. This order of presentation makes sense; but it may help to create a false impression – in those who only glance at the first few pages – that this book is just a simplified version of the earlier one, with a little bit of history thrown in.
  4. It would be quite unfortunate, however, if very many potential readers get this impression; for it might discourage them from looking closely at the bulk of the book, which is new.
  5. The issues discussed in the later chapters are at the center of one of the most lively debates in contemporary metaphysics; and the position Hoffman and Rosenkrantz stake out is appealing and carefully articulated. Their views deserve careful attention from philosophers working on the metaphysics of persistence through time, personal identity, artifact identity, and mereology.


Review of "Hoffman (Joshua) & Rosenkrantz (Gary) - Substance: Its Nature and Existence".

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