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Mereology Workshop

Research Project: Metaphysics: Identity, Existence & Structure

1st November 2014 - 2nd November 2014

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Mereology is the formal theory of parts and wholes. It has become increasingly important in philosophical disputes in metaphysics and has found application in areas such as formal semantics, the philosophy of mathematics, and computer science. The aim of this workshop is to bring together researchers who are at the cutting edge of research into mereology and its applications.

Confirmed speakers are: , Kris McDaniel (Syracuse), Josh Parsons (Oxford), Marin Pickup (Oxford), Caroline Touborg (St Andrews), Achille Varzi (Columbia), Gabriel Uzquiano (USC/Arche)

Schedule

Saturday 1st Nov

  • 10:00-10:30 Coffee
  • 10:30-12:00 Josh Parsons The Earth and the Aleph
    • Aisling Crean – chair
  • 12:00-14:00 Lunch
  • 14:00-15:30 Gabriel Uzquiano Ex Uno Plures: From Plenitude to Plural Coincidence
    • Michael Traynor – chair
  • 15:30-16:00 Coffee
  • 16:00-17:30 Kris McDaniel Non-Standard Mereology: Questions about the Dialectical Situation
    • Martin Lipman – chair
  • 19:00 Workshop Dinner at the Russell Hotel

Sunday 2nd Nov

  • 10:00-10:30 Coffee
  • 10:30-12:00 Martin Pickup Situations and Persistence through Change
    • Patrik Hummel – chair
  • 12:00-14:00 Lunch
  • 14:00-15:30 Caroline Touborg Admissible ways of counting
    • Stephen Read – chair
  • 15:30-16:00 Coffee
  • 16:00-17:30 Achille Varzi Atomism, Gunk, and the Limits of “Composition”
    • Aaron Cotnoir – chair

For more information, please send an email to the workshop organisers at arche@st-andrews.ac.uk


Abstracts

Martin Pickup

Situations and Persistence through Change

Abstract: In talk I present a new way to understand the persistence of material objects through change. It is a view that solves the problem of change, which is the problem of how one and the same thing can have incompatible properties (at different times) without contradiction. To describe the view, I will firstelaborate a metaphysical picture of the world that is drawn from the Fragmentalism of Kit Fine before giving some concrete shape to the metaphysics by modelling it using the tools of situation semantics. The key notion is mereological: fundamental reality is inherently partial and the combination of these parts leads to truth-value gaps. This view, which I callsituationalism, gives a new account of change and of the world more generally. The primary aim of the paper is therefore to providing a new theory of persistence. But thereis a subsidiary aim too: to get a better handle on the claims of Fragmentalism by cashing out the metaphysics in this novel context.

Caroline Touborg

Admissible ways of counting

Abstract: Imagine that you are looking up at the night sky. What you see, one might say, is just stuff. This stuff can be carved up into objects in many different ways. On one way of carving up what you see, you might count a particular portion of stuff as one galaxy; on another, you might count the same portion of stuff as many stars. Once we become aware of these different ways of counting – each corresponding to a way of carving up the world – we might ask: what does it take for a way of counting to be admissible, in the sense that it accurately reflects the structure of the world? In this talk, I propose a way of making such a notion of admissibility precise. I then go on to show how this gives us a new framework for thinking about the question: when do some objects compose one object?

Gabriel Uzquano

Ex Uno Plures: From Plenitude to Plural Coincidence

Abstract: Consider the thesis that the Supreme Court is not identical to the set of Supreme Court Justices because the two exemplify different modal profiles. Furthermore, the Supreme Court Justices compose the Supreme Court only to the extent to which they stand in a certain complex relation to each other. There is nothing special about the Supreme Court. Some individuals make up a queue only to the extent to which they stand in some spatial relation to each other. Nor is the phenomenon restricted to social groups; the Shetland Islands are composed of several islands, but the archipelago is not to be identified with the set of them. Now, the question naturally arises: under what conditions do some objects compose a group? It might seem objectionable to answer that they do only when such a group is recognized by common sense. So, one may be tempted by a plenitudinous answer according to which no matter what some objects may be, if they bear a certain relation to each other, there is a group to which they belong to the extent to which they stand in the relation. This thought, if taken seriously, might force one to rethink the claim that a group is a single composite object over and above its members.

Achille Varzi

Atomism, Gunk, and the Limits of “Composition”

Abstract: It is customary practice to define ‘x is a composed of the ys’ as ‘x is a sum of the ys and the ys are pairwise disjoint (i.e., no two of them have any parts in common)’. This predicate has played a central role in the debate on the special composition question and on related metaphysical issues concerning the mereological structure of objects. In this talk I will argue that the customary characterization is nonetheless inadequate. I will do so by constructing a mereological model where everything qualifies as composed of atoms even though some elements in the domain are gunky, i.e., can be divided indefinitely into smaller and smaller proper parts.

Details

Start:
1st November 2014
End:
2nd November 2014

Venue

School II
United College, St Salvator's Quad
St Andrews, KY169AL United Kingdom
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