Location and Mereology
Gilmore (Cody)
Source: Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2013-18
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Substantivalists believe that there are regions of space or spacetime. Many substantivalists also believe that there are entities (people, tables, social groups, electrons, fields, holes, events, tropes, universals1, …) that are located at regions. These philosophers face questions about the relationship between located entities and the regions at which they are located. Are located entities identical to their locations, as supersubstantivalists maintain? Are they entirely separate from their locations, in the sense that they share no parts with them?
  2. Without prejudging these metaphysical questions, some philosophers have formulated logics of location — typically in the form of groups of axioms or axiom-schemas governing a location relation and its interaction with parthood and other mereological relations. One main aim of these logics is to capture the ways in which the mereological properties of and relations between located entities must mirror the mereological properties of and relations between the locations of those entities.
  3. The recent literature focuses largely on three questions, each corresponding to a different way in which the relevant mirroring might fail:
    • Say that two entities interpenetrate just in case they do not share parts but their exact locations do. Is interpenetration possible?
    • Say that an extended simple is an entity that has no proper parts but is exactly located at a region that does have proper parts. Are extended simples possible?
    • Say that an entity is multilocated just in case it is exactly located at more than one region. Is multilocation possible?
  4. The present article surveys recent work on these questions and addresses a number of other issues along the way.

  1. Preliminaries: Spacetime and Parthood
  2. Location
    → 2.1 Which Location Relation is Fundamental?
    → 2.2 The Pure Logic of Location
  3. Interaction with Parthood
  4. Interpenetration
    → 4.1 For Interpenetration #1: from Universals2 or Tropes
    → 4.2 For Interpenetration #2: from Material Objects and Conceivability
    → 4.3 For Interpenetration #3: from Bosons
    → 4.4 For Interpenetration #4: from Recombination
    → 4.5 Against Interpenetration #1: from Supersubstantivalism
  5. Extended Simples
    → 5.1 For Extended Simples #1: from Conceivability
    → 5.2 For Extended Simples #2: from String Theory
    → 5.3 For Extended Simples #3: from Recombination
    → 5.4 Against Extended Simples #1: Supersubstantivalism
    → 5.5 Against Extended Simples #2: from Qualitative Variation
  6. Multilocation
    → 6.1 For Multilocation #1: from Conceivability
    → 6.2 For Multilocation #2: from Recombination
    → 6.3 For Multilocation #3: from Examples
    → 6.4 Against Multilocation #1: from Definition
    → 6.5 Against Multilocation #2: from Supersubstantivalism
    → 6.6 Against Multilocation #3: from Change
  7. Further Issues


First published Fri Jun 7, 2013; substantive revision Mon Mar 12, 2018

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