SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

The Contingent Brutalist Response to the Special Composition Question
(Metaphysics and Ontology, English)

The Special Composition Question is the question of under what conditions material objects compose. In this talk I will set out and defend the Contingent Brutalist response to the Special Composition Question: it is a brute and contingent matter whether some material objects compose. I argue that just as the existence of objects without proper parts can plausibly be taken to be brute, the existence of objects with proper parts can also be taken to be brute. The obvious picture opposing this is one in which the existence of objects with proper parts is grounded in the existence of those proper parts. I show that this picture is incompatible with the well-foundedness of grounding, and so should be rejected. I further claim that Contingent Brutalism has important theoretical advantages over positions on which composition facts are brute but necessary, in that it avoids unexplained metaphysical connections between some objects being a certain way and there existing a further object which is their composite. Finally, I explain what I think the Contingent Brutalist can and should say about when composition occurs in actuality. I claim that this is relatively little: the Contingent Brutalist ought to be committed to those composites which are indispensable to their best overall theory of the world -- in particular, the best available scientific theories -- and no other composites. Insofar as the Nihilist strategy of paraphrasing sentences about composites to sentences about their component simples is successful, the Contingent Brutalist should not be committed to any cases (or failures) of composition.

Chair: Zach Johnson
Time: 11:50-12:20, 14 September 2017 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.003

Tomi Francis 
(University of Oxford, United Kingdom)

I'm a first year graduate student in Philosophy, currently studying for the B.Phil. Prior to this, I studied Mathematics at the University of Warwick, switching to Mathematics and Philosophy in January 2015. My main research interests are in the Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic, but I also have interests in Ethics and Metaphysics. At the moment, I'm particularly interested in (in)determinacy in mathematics, the semantics of mathematical language, vagueness, population ethics, and mereological composition.

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