, Volume 74, Issue 1, pp 17–35 | Cite as

Spacetime and Mereology

Original Article


Unrestricted Composition (UC) is, roughly, the claim that given any objects at all, there is something which those objects compose. (UC) conflicts in an obvious way with common sense. It has as a consequence, for instance, that there is something which has as parts my nose and the moon. One of the more influential arguments for (UC) is Theodore Sider’s version of the Argument from Vagueness. (A version of the Argument from Vagueness was first presented by David Lewis (1986), pp. 212–213). That argument purports to show that some plausible claims concerning the nature of vagueness entail (UC). In this paper I will suggest a response to this argument. I will show that the proponent of Supersubstantivalism (SS)—the view that material objects are identical to regions of spacetime—can reject a premise of Sider’s argument without denying the plausible claims concerning vagueness. Doing so requires only rejecting a certain view concerning the relationship between the proper sub-region relation and the proper parthood relation. So, proponents of (SS) are in a better position than many of us to side with common sense regarding composition. In the first section of the paper, I will present Sider’s argument. In the second section, I will introduce (SS) and briefly discuss some reasons one might have to believe that it is true. In the third section, I will show how the proponent of (SS) can avoid commitment to (UC) and reject a premise of Sider’s argument. Last, I’ll briefly consider and respond to some objections.


Material Object Linguistic Theory Proper Part Spacetime Region Quantifier Expression 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thank you to David Braun, Earl Conee, Gregory Fowler, Kris McDaniel, Alyssa Ney, Joshua T. Spencer, and Brad Weslake for helpful comments and discussion. Thank you, as well, to two referees for providing extremely thorough and helpful reports.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA

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