How to identify wholes with their parts
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I claim that a whole is identical to its parts. Many find this claim incredible: it seems that a whole and its parts must be distinct, for the whole is one thing while its parts are many things. Byeong-uk Yi has developed a version of this argument which exploits the resources of plural logic. Yi provides logical analyses of the predicates ‘one’ and ‘many’ which seem to show that nothing can satisfy them both. But there are (at least) two senses of the word ‘one’. One of these senses is not captured by Yi’s analysis, and in this sense of the word, it is logically possible for many things to be one. Moreover, we should only believe that a whole is one thing in this sense, not that it is one thing in the sense Yi has analysed. Thus, we can identify wholes with their parts without contradiction.
KeywordsComposition Identity Mereology Plural logic Byeong-uk Yi
Earlier versions of this essay were presented at the 2016 meeting of the Canadian Philosophical Association, the 2016 Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association, the 2017 meeting of the Society for Exact Philosophy, the 2018 meeting of the Western Canadian Philosophical Association, and to the Department of Philosophy at the University of Calgary. Thanks to all those audiences, and to Landon Elkind, Jared Henderson, Greg Landini, Oliver Lean, Kirk Ludwig, Penelope Mackie, Christopher Mentzel, and Katarina Perovic. Special thanks to David deVidi, David Liebesman, Gurpreet Rattan, Byeong-uk Yi, and two anonymous referees for this journal. Research for this essay was funded in part by a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and in part by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
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