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Composition and Coincidence

Olson, E.T. (1996) Composition and Coincidence. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 77 (4). pp. 374-403. ISSN 0031-5621


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[First Paragraph] Suppose we take a pound of gold and mold it into the shape of Hermes. Then, it would seem, we shall have a golden statue of Hermes, beautiful to behold. We shall also have a lump of gold. And we have the makings of a well-known philosophical puzzle. Many people find it obvious that if we crushed the statue or melted it down, we should destroy the statue but not the lump of gold. The lump can be deformed and still continue to exist, but the statue cannot; that is the nature of lumps and statues. So the lump can outlive the statue. Since nothing can outlive itself, it is natural to conclude that the one-pound gold statue and the one-pound lump of gold in our example are numerically different. And as statues are to lumps, they say, so are brick houses to heaps of bricks, living organisms to masses of matter, and people to their bodies. More generally, certain atoms (or elementary particles or what have you) often compose two numerically different material objects at once. To put it another way, two different material objects may have all the same proper parts (the same parts except themselves) at once. Because of its many defenders and its intuitive attraction, I will call this the Popular View about lumps and statues and other familiar material objects.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 1996 University of Southern California and Blackwell Science Ltd. This is an electronic version of an article published in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Department of Philosophy (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2005
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 17:53
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/705

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