Material Constitution
Wasserman (Ryan)
Source: Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2009-2013
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. What is the relationship between a clay statue1 and the lump of clay from which it is formed? We might say that the lump constitutes the statue2, but what is this relation of material constitution?
  2. Some insist that constitution is identity, on the grounds that distinct material objects cannot occupy the same place at the same time. Others argue that constitution is not identity, since the statue3 and the lump differ in important respects.
  3. Still others take cases like this to motivate revisionary views about the nature of persistence, parthood, modality4, identity, or existence.
  4. This article presents some of the most important puzzles of material constitution and evaluates some of the most popular responses.

  1. The Puzzles
  2. Coincident Objects
  3. Temporal Parts
  4. Eliminativism
  5. Dominant Kinds
  6. Relative Identity5
  7. Deflationism


First published Wed Feb 25, 2009; substantive revision Fri Apr 5, 2013

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