Material Constitution - A Reader
Rea (Michael), Ed.
This Page provides (where held) the Abstract of the above Book and those of all the Papers contained in it.
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Amazon Customer Review – Positive

  1. The problems of material constitution arise from the fact that material objects can be constituted of different parts at different times (or, for the modal1 versions of the problems, at different possible worlds). They are among the trickiest and most fascinating metaphysical problems, on a par with the problems of free will or time. This book is the only anthology dedicated to this area of metaphysics, and for that reason alone it is invaluable to a contemporary analytical metaphysician.
  2. Work in this area tends to focus around variations on three or four different puzzles. To give you an idea of what this book is about, I will consider one of these puzzles and the various proposed solutions to it: the puzzle of Tibbles the cat2.
  3. The original version of this puzzle is attributed by Peter Geach to the medieval philosopher William of Sherwood, but a similar puzzle dates back to the Stoic philosopher Chrysippus (circa 200 B. C.). A simplified version is as follows. Suppose Tibbles the cat3's tail is severed from his body and destroyed at time T. Prior to T, Tibbles4 was divisible into two parts: his tail, and the rest of him, which we can call "Tibbles-Minus5". (Tibbles6 minus his tail, that is.) That he was thus divisible is shown by the fact that at T Tibbles7' tail was separated from Tibbles-Minus8. Now Tibbles9, unfortunate cat though he may be, survived this injury, and so did Tibbles-Minus10. But since his tail was destroyed, all that remains of Tibbles11 is Tibbles-Minus12. So after T Tibbles13 and Tibbles-Minus14 occupy exactly the same region of space. But two distinct material objects cannot occupy the same place at the same time, so it seems that after T Tibbles15 is identical to Tibbles-Minus16. And yet, Tibbles17 *cannot* be identical to Tibbles-Minus18, because Tibbles19 has properties that Tibbles-Minus20 does not--for instance, the property of having once had a tail, and the property of having lost a tail, not to mention the property of being a cat. (Likewise Tibbles-Minus21 has properties Tibbles22 does not have, like having been attached to a cat's tail and having occupied a smaller volume than Tibbles23.)
  4. I have presented the problem informally, but it can be presented with formal logical rigor so as to yield a contradiction from premises that are individually quite plausible. The different solutions to this puzzle all deny one or another of the premises that generate the contradiction. Here are three of the ones considered in this book:
    • (1) Co-locationism. This view says that there can be two distinct material objects that are made of the same atoms (or elementary particles) and are in the same place at the same time. Indeed, there can be more than two, perhaps innumerably many. The puzzle is solved by denying the premise that says this kind of co-location is impossible. On one version of this view, what is impossible is not that two material objects should be in the same place at the same time, but that two material objects of the same *kind* should be in the same place at the same time. Thus, it is held, a statue24 can be co-located with the lump of clay it is made of. (But they are not the same thing; the lump of clay existed before the statue25 did.) The clay, after all, is just the material of which the statue26 is made, and there is no reason the material cannot be in the same place as the object made.
    • (2) Eliminativism. This view says that one of the two material objects in question – either Tibbles27 or Tibbles-Minus28, perhaps both – do not exist. According to one version of this view, Tibbles29 exists, but his tail and Tibbles-Minus30 do not. What exist in their place, rather, are elementary particles (or perhaps atoms and molecules, or cells) arranged spatially in a certain way. But these particles do not *compose* any bigger object, just as the molecules in a liter of air do not compose any bigger whole. On another version, there is no Tibbles31 either, just a lot of tiny particles arranged in a complex pattern.
    • (3) Temporal parts theory. On this view Tibbles32 and Tibbles-Minus33 are not co-located and do not have the same parts even though they occupy a certain common spatial region at a certain time. This is because Tibbles34 and Tibble-Minus are extended in time as well as in space; just as they have spatial parts extending in various spatial directions, so they have temporal parts extending from past to future. Or better, they have *spatiotemporal* parts extending through a region of spacetime. It so happens that Tibbles35 and Tibbles-Minus36 coincide (have common parts) in the part of Tibbles37' career that follows the loss of his tail. But prior to this they do not coincide; rather Tibbles-Minus38 is a part of Tibbles39. Thus, there are two different objects, which do not have the same parts or the same spatiotemporal location, so that there is no problem as to how they could be distinct.
  5. Unfortunately I lack space to go through the other solutions in the anthology, or even to adequately explain these three. But then my purpose is to tell you something about the book, not to replace it. If you want to know more, you'll have to get ahold of it.

Amazon Customer Review – Less Positive
  1. This book should be read by any scholar who wants a better grasp of the implications of identity criteria40 on formal and descriptive ontology. That said, the selection of papers represented in this edition give away a predilection for semantic arguments that have nothing substantive to contribute to an understanding of actual problems of 'Material Constitution'.
  2. The title is misleading, in that the overwhelming majority of contributors to this collection all have serious reservations against de re readings on identity! In fact, one contributor, David Wiggins, who is well known for his work on identity criteria41, argues against the existence of de re modality!42 This collection is not about "the furniture of the world" but is instead a treatise on a semantic understanding of identity and objects, with the caveat that this is the sole and correct treatment of the subject. The bias is against any de re analysis of objects, since the contributors find that to be the wrong way of understanding objects and the identity of objects.
  3. Interestingly, a lot of the contributors appeal to or use mereological axioms only to undermine any mereological understanding of the constitution of objects. And some use mereology to try and bolster their point that objects can only be understood in de dicto terms. This runs counter-intuitively to the ontological "neutrality" of mereology for objects, ideal or material. In fact, I would say that this book is about the semantics43 of objects and not about any "material constitution" of objects, unless it is about the fallacy of de re understanding of objects; that is, this book should be named the 'De Dicto Constitution of Identity'.


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Maryland, 1997

"Burke (Michael) - Preserving the Principle of One Object to a Place: A Novel Account of the Relations Amongst Objects, Sorts, Sortals, and Persistence Conditions"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

Philosophers Index Abstract
    This article presents a novel account of the relations among objects, sorts, sortals1, and persistence conditions2. Among its advantages over the standard account is its compatibility with the commonsense principle of one material object to a place. The account enables us to dispose of the full range of putative counterexamples to that principle, including, notably, that of persons and their bodies. And it enables us to do so without resorting to anti- essentialism, temporal parts, sortal3 relativism, temporal relativism, mereological essentialism, or other theories that conflict with our ordinary ways of thinking about the world.


"Chandler (Hugh S.) - Constitutivity and Identity"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

Philosophers Index Abstract
    A complex entity is demonstrably distinct from its parts and from the set of its parts. This does not refute materialism. Materialists can still hold that every complex entity is one and the same as the aggregate of its parts. Two arguments against this view are examined; but both prove unsuccessful.


"Chisholm (Roderick) - Identity Through Time"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

Author’s Introduction
  1. According to Bishop Butler, when we say of a physical thing existing at one time that it is identical with or the same as a physical thing existing at some other time (“this is the same ship we traveled on before”), we are likely to be using the expression “same” or “identical” in a “loose and popular1 sense”.
  2. But when we say of a person existing at one time that he is identical with or the same as a person existing at some other time (“the ship has the same captain it had before”), we are likely to be using the expression “same” or “identical” in a “strict and philosophical2 sense”.
  3. I shall attempt to give an interpretation of these two theses; and I shall suggest that there is at least an element of truth in each.


"Doepke (Frederick) - Spatially Coinciding Objects"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. This article presents a theory of the (time-variant) "constitution" relation, which obtains between two distinct objects which occupy the same place at the same time.
  2. It explains why pairs of them (eg. a gold statue1 and the gold of the statue2, a person and his or her body) are indiscernible in a variety of logically independent respects, such as place, color, shape, and weight.
  3. It accounts for the formal features – notably, the asymmetry – of the constitution relation. (Recall that identity is symmetrical.)
  4. In rebutting a variety of attempts to subvert David Wiggins' argument that distinct objects can spatially coincide, the article offers the following:
    1. A general argument against relativizing identity (eg. sortally3 or temporally);
    2. Some explanation of the theoretical point of concepts of continuants;
    3. An anti-reductionist4 argument in favor of admitting constituted objects (eg. organisms) in addition to objects which constitute them (eg. collections of fundamental particles).


"Geach (Peter) - Reference and Generality (Selections)"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

"Gibbard (Allan) - Contingent Identity"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader
Write-up Note1 (Full Text reproduced below).

Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. Identities formed with proper names may be contingent. This claim is made first through an example.
  2. The paper then develops a theory of the semantics2 of concrete things, with contingent identity3 as a consequence.
  3. This general theory lets concrete things be made up canonically from fundamental physical entities.
  4. It includes theories of proper names, variables, cross-world identity with respect to a sortal4, and modal5 and dispositional properties.
  5. The theory, it is argued, is coherent and superior to its rivals, in that it stems naturally from a systematic picture of the physical world.


Write-up6 (as at 04/04/2015 00:17:17): Gibbard - Contingent Identity

This note provides my detailed review of "Gibbard (Allan) - Contingent Identity".

Currently, this write-up is only available as a PDF. For a précis, click File Note (PDF). It is my intention to convert this to Note format shortly.

… Further details to be supplied7

In-Page Footnotes ("Gibbard (Allan) - Contingent Identity")

Footnote 6:
  • This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (04/04/2015 00:17:17).
  • Link to Latest Write-Up Note.

"Heller (Mark) - Temporal Parts of Four-Dimensional Objects"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution

Author’s Introduction
  1. Probably the best objection to there being so-called temporal parts is that no one has adequately made sense of what a temporal part is supposed to be.
  2. Such phrases as "temporal part", "temporal phase", and "temporal slice" have been used in ways that suggest such varied purported objects as processes, events, ways things are, sets, and portions of careers or histories.
  3. The account which comes closest to making sense of temporal parts is "Thomson (Judith Jarvis) - Parthood and Identity Across Time". Consider an object O which exists from time to to t3. On Thomson's account, a temporal part of O, call it P, is an object that comes into existence at some time t1 >= t0 and goes out of existence at some time t2 =< t3 and takes up some portion of the space that O takes up for all the time that P exists.
  4. Her account has the strength of being reasonably explicit about what she means by "temporal part". Furthermore, as she explains them, temporal parts do, at least on the face of it, seem to be parts. Her account, however, has the weakness of, as Thomson claims, making the existence of temporal parts fairly implausible.
  5. I shall offer an account which is at once explicit and supportive.


"Howard-Snyder (Frances) - De Re Modality Entails De Re Vagueness"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

"Johnston (Mark) - Constitution is Not Identity"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

Author’s Introduction
  1. Suppose that a statue1 of Goliath is made by fusing together two appropriately shaped pieces of clay and that after a few minutes, the artisan, frustrated with his work, dissolves the statue2 in a solvent which destroys clay and statue3 alike. Then a natural thing to say is that the careers of the statue4 and the lump or piece of clay which made it up are entirely coincident. The statue5 and the piece of clay came into being at the same time and ceased to be at the same time. Throughout their respective careers, the piece of clay constituted the statue6.
  2. Had the artisan despaired only of the arms and calves of Goliath and dissolved only them, replacing them with new pieces of appropriately molded clay, then we should say that distinct but not wholly distinct pieces of clay constituted the statue7 of Goliath over its lifetime. In this second case we naturally conclude that the statue8 is not absolutely identical with the whole piece of clay which originally constituted it, since the piece arguably did not survive the dissolving of significant parts of it, while the statue9 clearly did survive the dissolving; as is evidenced by the fact that the statue10 had new arms and calves attached to it.
  3. So also, it seems natural to conclude that even in the first case in which the original piece of clay constituted the statue11 throughout its entire career, the statue12 is not absolutely identical with the clay, since the statue13 could have survived certain changes which the piece of clay would not have survived, e.g. the changes described in the second case.
  4. Philosophers have gone to some lengths to resist this last conclusion. Thus David Lewis, Alan Gibbard, Anil Gupta and Denis Robinson all allege that something special about modal14 predication invalidates the argument to non-identity in the case of complete coincidence15. Concentrating on Lewis's way of putting the point, since it fits neatly into a familiar systematic way of thinking of modality16, the situation is supposed to be as follows17.


In-Page Footnotes ("Johnston (Mark) - Constitution is Not Identity")

Footnote 15: See Footnote 17: The remarks that follow are adapted from "Lewis (David) - Counterparts of Persons and Their Bodies" (1971).

"Lewis (David) - Counterparts or Double Lives (Selections)"

Source: Lewis - On the Plurality of Worlds, 1986, Chapter 4

  1. The Selections are the whole1 of:-
    • 1. Good Questions and Bad, and
    • 5. Against Constancy
  2. There is also a useful footnote on the distinction between Genuine Modal2 Realism and Ersatz Modal3 Realism, presumably indebted to Chapter 3 ("Lewis (David) - Paradise on the Cheap?").


In-Page Footnotes ("Lewis (David) - Counterparts or Double Lives (Selections)")

Footnote 1: So, the intervening sections:-
  • 2. Against Overlap
  • 3. Against Trans-World Individuals, and
  • 4. Against Haecceitism
are omitted.

"Myro (George) - Identity and Time"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader
COMMENT: Included in "Look (Brandon C.) - The Metaphysics of Material Beings: Constitution, Persistence, and Identity".

"Parsons (Terence) - Entities Without Identity"

Source: Philosophical Perspectives, Vol. 1, Metaphysics (1987), pp. 1-19

"Rea (Michael) - Material Constitution: Preface, Introduction & Appendix (A Formal Statement of the Problem)"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader
COMMENT: Included in "Look (Brandon C.) - The Metaphysics of Material Beings: Constitution, Persistence, and Identity".

"Sosa (Ernest) - Subjects Among Other Things"

Source: Philosophical Perspectives, Vol. 1, Metaphysics (1987), pp. 155-189

Analytical Table of Contents
  • A. Body and Soul. Arguments by Hume and by Locke and Kant against substantial souls considered and resisted.
  • B. Against Souls. Further arguments against souls:
    … 1. The argument from individuation1.
    … 2. The intrinsic nature problem.
    … 3. The argument from causation2.
  • C. Might Souls be Located in Space? This seems the most promising way to deal with the problems of B, but is not free of cost: for one thing, souls would then seem essentially spatial since spatial and fundamental, and further puzzles about the dynamics of souls would still call for the attribution to souls of special intrinsic properties or relations, though we have no clue as to the content of these.
  • D. Radical Materialism. This loses much appeal with the realization that nothing material could be ontologically fundamental. If we allow real status to the materially derivative, it seems arbitrary to rule out objects that though immaterial are no more derivative; all the more so if in each case the mode of derivation is equally well understood. So it seems ill- advised and unnecessary to strain against the immaterial, or at least against that which is sufficiently meta-material (metaphysical?) to be distinct from the chunk of material that constitutes it at that time.
  • E. On the Constitution of Ordinary Objects. A broadly Aristotelian conception of everyday reality is sketched. Ordinary objects are viewed as ontologically derivative from constitutive matter(s) and constitutive form.
  • F. Some Principles of Ontological Dependence. These explain how the existence, identity, and persistence of objects derive from their matter and form.
  • G. Modal3 Properties of the Supervenient and Their Basis in Actuality. Problems in understanding what actual (non-modal)4 intrinsic character of an ontologically supervenient or dependent entity (like a smile, a snowball, or perhaps even a person) could possibly yield and explain its differential modal5 properties, its could-bes, might-have-beens, etc.
  • H. Further Problems of Constitution and Supervenience6.
    … 1. The explosion of reality. (And the anti-realist proposed solution.)
    … 2. Which original sources are essential?
  • I. An Event or Process Ontology? Given the problems surveyed, should we not yield to the implicit pressure of the arguments by Hume, Locke, and Kant (sketched in section A) by accepting an ontology of events and processes, one that dispenses with concrete, contingent substances having any permanence? It is not obvious we should accede, when the plausible reducing events and processes themselves embed substantial things with apparent permanence (beyond an instant at least). What is more, the events and processes in a thing's actual career will not suffice for the reduction anyhow, since ordinary things generally might have had very different careers.
  • J. Persons Again. If we decide against substantial souls, against radical materialism, and against an event or process ontology, then a broadly Aristotelian view of persons has its attractions. But it will have the problems already presented in sections G and H. It must also deal with some further questions, six of which are highlighted in this section. And how would experiential and intentional states derive from properties of the live human being? The mystery here darkens when we consider that properties of the human being necessarily derive from properties and relations of its physical parts. No simple analogy between digestion and thought is likely to illuminate this darkness.

"Thomson (Judith Jarvis) - Parthood and Identity Across Time"

Source: Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne) - Persistence : Contemporary Readings

Author’s Introduction (extracts)
  1. Temporal parts have come in handy in a number of areas in philosophy.
  2. Let us take a close look at one use to which some may be inclined to want to put them.
  3. It is an attractive idea that the logic of parthood is the Leonard-Goodman Calculus of Individuals:-


"Unger (Peter) - I Do Not Exist"

Source: MacDonald - Perception & Identity - Essays Presented to A J Ayer with His Replies, 1979

Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. It is argued that none of the "ordinary entities" that ostensibly exist actually do exist: there are no planets, or rocks, or chairs, or cats, or people; there is no you and no me.
  2. The arguments are variations upon the ancient argument of the heap, the sorites1.
  3. Various objections to the arguments are considered.
  4. The apparently self-defeating character of the arguments is recognized but is not taken as fundamental to the issues.

COMMENT: Also in "Rea (Michael), Ed. - Material Constitution - A Reader"

"Van Inwagen (Peter) - Material Constitution: Foreword"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

"Van Inwagen (Peter) - The Doctrine of Arbitrary Undetached Parts"

Source: Van Inwagen - Ontology, Identity and Modality, Part II: Identity, Chapter 5

Author’s Introduction1
  1. Many philosophers accept what I shall call the Doctrine of Arbitrary Undetached Parts (DAUP). Adherents of this doctrine believe in such objects as the northern half of the Eiffel Tower, the middle two-thirds of the cigar Uncle Henry is smoking, and the thousands (at least) of overlapping perfect duplicates2 of Michelangelo’s David that were hidden inside the block of marble from which (as they see it) Michelangelo liberated the David. Moreover, they do not believe in only some "undetached parts"; they believe, so to speak, in all of them. The following statement of DAUP, though it is imperfect in some respects, at least captures the generality of the doctrine I mean to denote by that name:
      For every material object M, if R is the region of space occupied by M at time t, and if sub-R is any occupiable sub-region of R whatever, there exists a material object that occupies the region sub-R at t.
    (It should be obvious that DAUP, so defined, entails the existence of the northern half of the Eiffel Tower3 and the other items in the above list.) This definition or statement or whatever it is of DAUP has, as I have said, certain imperfections as a statement of the doctrine I wish to describe certain philosophers as holding. One was mentioned in (the previous) footnote. Another is this: there are philosophers who hold what is recognizable as a version of DAUP who would not be willing to admit regions of space into their ontologies. Here is a third: this statement entails that material objects have boundaries so sharp that they occupy regions that are sets of points; and no adherent of DAUP that I know of would accept such a thesis about material objects. But these defects are irrelevant to the points that will be raised in the sequel and I shall not attempt to formulate a statement of DAUP that remedies them. For our purposes, therefore, DAUP may be identified with my imperfect statement of it.
  2. What I want to say about DAUP involves only two components of that doctrine;
    1. The arbitrariness of the parts - a part of an object is of course an object that occupies a sub-region of the region occupied by that object - whose existence it asserts (". . . any occupiable sub-region of R whatever . . .") and
    2. The concreteness and materiality of these parts.
    The second of these features calls for a brief comment. A philosopher might hold that, e.g., the northern half of the Eiffel Tower exists, but identify this item in his ontology with some abstract object, such as the pair whose first term is the Eiffel Tower and whose second term is the northern half of the region of space occupied by the Eiffel Tower. (If this idea were to be applied to moving, flexible objects or to objects that grow or shrink, it would have to be radically elaborated; I mean only to provide a vague, general picture of how one might identify parts with abstract objects.) This paper is not addressed to that philosopher's doctrine. It is addressed to DAUP, which holds that, e.g., the northern half of the Eiffel Tower is a concrete material particular in the same sense as that in which the Eiffel Tower itself is a concrete material particular.
  3. The Doctrine of Arbitrary Undetached Parts is false. It is also mischievous: it has caused a great deal of confusion in our thinking about material objects. But I shall not attempt to show that it is mischievous. I shall be content to show that it is false.

COMMENT: Also in "Rea (Michael), Ed. - Material Constitution - A Reader"

In-Page Footnotes ("Van Inwagen (Peter) - The Doctrine of Arbitrary Undetached Parts")

Footnote 1: Most footnotes omitted.

Footnote 3:
  • More precisely: DAUP entails that, for any time t, if the Eiffel Tower exists at t, and if the northern half of the space it occupies at t is then occupiable - and I think no one would want to deny that — then there exists an object at t that occupies that space, an object it would certainly be natural to call "the northern half of the Eiffel Tower."
  • There is a thesis that DAUP intuitively "ought" to entail that my statement of it does not entail. Consider two times t and t'. Suppose that the Eiffel Tower exists and has the same location and orientation in space at both these times. Suppose that at both these times it consists of the same girders, struts, and rivets, arranged in the same way. The thesis: the thing that is the northern half of the Eiffel Tower at t is identical with the thing that is the northern half of the Eiffel Tower at t'.
  • I regard the failure of my statement of DAUP to entail this thesis as a defect in that statement. (I think this entailment fails to hold. It certainly cannot be shown formally to hold. For all I know, however, there may be some feature of the concept of a material object in virtue of which it does hold.)

"Wiggins (David) - On Being in the Same Place at the Same Time"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

Author’s Abstract1
  1. (This paper) considers the possibility or impossibility of the co-occupation by distinct things of the same place at the same time.
  2. It lays particular emphasis upon the distinction between a proper substance and an aggregation of material components.

  1. S is the principle2 that “Two things cannot completely occupy the same place / volume / sub-volume at the same time”.
  2. Apparent exceptions that are fairly easy to explain3 include:-
    • Proper Parts: My forearm only partly4 occupies the volume occupied by my body. The apparent exception “doesn’t count”.
    • Sponges: The point is to “mingle” two things – in this case a sponge and a body of water – and then to recover them both afterwards. The things have to persist, or we can’t say they are two things5 in the same place at the same time. Wiggins also considers (nomologically counterfactual) mingling as the atomic and subatomic level6. This “doesn’t count” either.
  3. Wiggins thinks he can resolve but one of the “difficult” questions arising from all this, but S is still inadequately formulated.
  4. The “is” of Constitution: Wiggins considers a tree7 (T) and its constituent matter (W). T and W occupy the same place at the same time, but are non-identical – because of Leibniz’s Law and the fact that they have different persistence conditions8.
    • W survives T’s decomposition into cellulose molecules, while T does not.
    • T survives the loss of some of the constituent cells of W, in the course of organic change, while W does not.
  5. Wiggins thinks it’d be a “trick” to define an aggregate W1 with persistence9 conditions exactly the same as the tree’s. A trick because all you’ve done is define a tree.
  6. Wiggins spells this out: we have “contrived” an identity between stuff (W) and substance (T) by introducing a concept foreign to things falling under the “stuff” category – namely organisation.
  7. Wiggins has a footnote saying that more can be said about identity and the mereological treatment of aggregates – and refers us to "Wiggins (David) - Identity & Spatio-temporal Continuity", pp. 11-13, 67-8, 7210.
  8. Wiggins has an excellent footnote11 illustrating – for artefacts – the difference between the stuff and the artefact from which the stuff is made. He proves, by transitivity, that the artefact cannot be identical to its stuff – in this case sweater, wool and socks – since the sweater is not identical to the socks, neither can be identical to the wool from which – at different times – they were made. The stuff (wool) must pre-exist the fabrication of the artefact, but the artefact cannot pre-exist its fabrication.
  9. However, he goes on to argue that none of this implies that T is something over and above W. His definition of over and above is open to objection12, in that he wants it to mean merely that there are no (material) parts of T that are not in W, or as he says, W fully exhausts13 the matter of T.
  10. Wiggins’s understanding of constitution14 includes:-
    • The “is” of material constitution is not the “is” of identity.
    • “x is constituted of y” is equivalent to:-
      … “x is made of y”, or
      … “x consists of y”, or
      … “x is wholly composed of y”, or
      … “x is merely y”, or
      … “x merely consists of y”.
  11. Wiggins notes that if T = W is a consequence of materialism, then Wiggins is not a materialist15, as he denies this equation.
  12. Wiggins claims that his denial that T=W only puts an uninteresting16 obstacle in the way of reducing17 botany to organic chemistry.
  13. Wiggins leaves T & W with the remark that what he’s shown is similar to a philosophical commonplace of assigning objects to different logical types. He prefers his approach, however, because it makes a smaller claims (he says) for two reasons:-
    • 1. It allows for a clear statement of the connection between objects and their constituting stuff, and
    • 2. The Leibnizian principle for the predicative “is” (as opposed to the constitutive “is”) is highly intelligible18
      If and only if A is an f (or is phi) then A is identical with an f (or with one of the phi-things); and if and only if A is one of the f's (or phi-things) then it must share all its properties with that f (or phi-thing).
  14. There is more to be said on the topic of “ranges of significance” – we’re referred to Russell’s simple or ramified Theory of Types19.
  15. The lesson from T & W is that we need to reformulate principle S as S*, namely
      S*: No two things of the same kind can occupy the same volume at exactly the same time
  16. Wiggins’s gloss on kind is “… satisfy (the same) sortal20 or substance concept”.
  17. He thinks there are at least three reasons for thinking this a necessary truth:-
    • 1. Space can be mapped only by its occupants.
    • 2.
    • 3.
  18. "Wiggins (David) & Woods (Michael J.) - Symposium: The Individuation of Things and Places"
  19. Wiggins closes with an application of principle S* to the problem of Tib and Tibbles21. He attributes the puzzle to William of Sherwood, via Geach22
  20. … to be completed.


In-Page Footnotes ("Wiggins (David) - On Being in the Same Place at the Same Time")

Footnote 1: Footnote 2: It is something of an open question whether S is a physical or metaphysical question. Wiggins subsequently considers counterfactual physical circumstances which would allow indefinitely fine commingling of two distinct things, but this still leaves him thinking there’s a problem to solve. So, he thinks there’s an a priori metaphysical issue at stake.

Footnote 3: What’s the compulsion to believe S? Worries often have to do with language (how would our counting work – or else various epistemological claims; these are Olson’s worries about persons and animals occupying the same place at the same time), but the worries ought to run deeper than this.

Footnote 4: The conundrums of Dion / Theon and Tib / Tibbles are relevant here.

Footnote 5: Is there an issue caused by the supposed possibility of intermittent existence?

Footnote 6: Something like the case of miscible fluids would only take us to the molecular level – but at least that’s further than sponges.

Footnote 7: A change from “the statue and the clay” (See Goliath and Lump1 in "Gibbard (Allan) - Contingent Identity", etc.) – and better, since artefacts might be a special case where human concerns and arbitrariness muddy the waters.

Footnote 9: I’d thought of aggregates having less strict persistence conditions than those demanded by mereological essentialism – a heap that has lost a grain is still the same heap – but Wiggins picks up on this. That said, his “take” is an extreme one for the sake of argument, but you could define persistence conditions for aggregates that didn’t mirror those of organic objects, and that were, therefore, less contrived.

Footnote 10: Footnote 11:
  • There are obvious connections to the Ship of Thesesus paradox (Click here for Note) here: we could repair the sweater over time, and save the replaced threads, and make socks out of them.
  • This is interesting – there’s no temptation to paradox in this case (as socks can’t be identical to a sweater) – but if we made the threads into another sweater, the paradox would return.
  • This, I think, shows that the stuff returns to the universal pool of stuff, and carries no memory of its previous form with it.
  • Yet we’re still left with disassembled and reassembled watches, bicycles etc. Yet they aren’t disassembled into stuff, but into parts, which retain part of the form of the artefact.
  • So, the question is whether the material that makes ships and sweaters are parts or stuff. It would seem that pieces of wool have no relevant form, while planks of wood do – or might. Some planks will be interchangeable, while others are specific to function. Watch and bicycle parts, however, are very specific to place and function.
Footnote 12:
  • I think the disagreement is only semantic. It’s common sense that “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”, but Wiggins doesn’t want to deny this. He’s simply speaking mereologically.
  • The parts of the whole either support one another (as in the proverb) or else have form or structure.
  • This structure may explain the suggestion that the heap of sand in my garden has different persistence conditions to a mere aggregate (which – one presumes – has mereologically essentialist persistence conditions – as does a set).
Footnote 13:
  • I’m uncomfortable about this. If (counterfactually) we had immaterial souls, then we would – according to normal parlance – be something “over and above” the matter that constitutes our bodies, yet the matter under consideration (that of our bodies) would be “exhausted” – no more is needed.
  • Also, Wiggins takes it that T is “nothing over and above” W if T is constituted of W and nothing else. Yet, form is very important. Are diamonds “nothing over and above” the carbon atoms that constitute them? Would Wiggins say “yes”?
Footnote 15: I find this paragraph very difficult to construe. I repeat it here for reference:-
    If it is a materialistic thesis that T = W, then my denial that T = W is a form of denial of materialism. It is interesting how very uninteresting an obstacle these Leibnizian difficulties-real though they are-put in the way of the reduction of botany and all its primitive terms to organic chemistry or to physics. (If it does not follow from T # W that trees are something over and above their matter, how much the less can it follow that they are immanent or transcendent or supervenient or immaterial beings. This is obviously absurd for trees. A Leibnizian disproof of strict identity could never be enough to show something so intriguing or obscure.) I should expect there to be equally valid, and from the point of view of ontology almost equally unexciting, difficulties in the reduction of persons to flesh and bones ("Wiggins (David) - Identity & Spatio-temporal Continuity", p. 57), in psychophysical event-materialism, and in the materialisms which one might formulate in other categories (such as the Aristotelian categories property and state or the categories situation and fact). Over and above is one question, identity is another. But of course the only stuff there is is stuff.
Footnote 16: What does he mean by this? That the obstacle is illusory?

Footnote 18: This seems to be a restatement of Leibniz’s Law in sortal terms.

Footnote 19: Presumably, this survives Russell’s failure to reduce mathematics to logic. Wiggins gives the following references:- Footnote 22: He thanks Geach for allowing him to use the material, but gives no reference. For some reason, he doesn’t mention the ancient Dion and Theon, which is of exactly the same form as Tib and Tibbles.

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