Composition, identity, and emergence

Claudio Calosi



Composition as Identity (CAI) is the thesis that a whole is, strictly and literally, identical to its parts, considered collectively. McDaniel [2008] argues against CAI in that it prohibits emergent properties. Recently Sider [2014] exploited the resources of plural logic and extensional mereology to undermine McDaniel’s argument. He shows that CAI identifies extensionally equivalent pluralities – he calls it the Collapse Principle (CP) – and then shows how this identification rescues CAI from the emergentist argument. In this paper I first give a new generalized version of both the arguments. It is more general in that it does not presuppose an atomistic mereology. I then go on to argue that the consequences of CP are rather radical. It entails mereological nihilism, the view that there are only mereological atoms. I finally show that, given a mild assumption about property instantiation, namely that there are no un-instantiated properties, this argument entails that CAI and emergent properties are incompatible after all.


; composition as identity; emergence; mereological nihilism

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ISSN: 1425-3305 (print version)

ISSN: 2300-9802 (electronic version)

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