Philosophy Tag

In the last round, University of British Columbia’s Roberta Ballarin tagged University of Georgia’s Anthony Shiver, and man, he is a fast it. Let’s see who he has tagged.

“A whole is nothing over and above its parts.” Taken at face value, this claim seems to imply that some individuals (i.e., complex wholes) are several things. But this is puzzling: how can we make sense of one thing being identical to many things? Aaron J. Cotnoir (St. Andrews) gives an answer in a recent paper in Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, v.8 titled “Composition as General Identity.” Cotnoir presents a formal language with an identity predicate—called general identity—that accepts both singular and plural terms as arguments. The idea behind his semantics for general identity is that a plural term denoting the parts of a composite object denotes the same “portion of reality” as a singular term denoting the composite as a whole. The system is constructed and explained with extraordinary clarity, and constitutes a compelling analysis of the claim that composition is identity. Philosophers working in metaphysics, language, or logic will find a lot worth thinking about in this paper. Aaron J. Cotnoir, you’re it!

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