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Mereology and Location$
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Shieva Kleinschmidt

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199593828

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199593828.001.0001

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Mereological Sums and Singular Terms

Mereological Sums and Singular Terms

(p.209) 10 Mereological Sums and Singular Terms
Mereology and Location

Kathrin Koslicki

Oxford University Press

The merits of standard mereology have been discussed by metaphysicians concerned with the part–whole properties of material objects. Less discussed is what semantic repercussions a commitment to mereological sums might have on the predicted behaviour of singular terms and our use of such terms to refer to objects. The apparent mismatch between our referential practices and the persistence conditions attributed to material objects by supporters of standard mereology puts these philosophers at a disadvantage compared to those whose ontology matches more closely the observed behaviour of singular terms. To alleviate this problem, David Lewis leans heavily on his distinction between natural and non-natural properties. But Lewis’s natural/non-natural distinction among properties is not enough to avoid Quinean indeterminacy for singular terms. Those who give an analysis of constructions involving full-fledged predication, as opposed to the mere spatial overlap of denotations, will thus want to adopt an ontology that places more stringent structural constraints on the referents of singular terms than would be supplied by standard mereology.

Keywords:   mereology, part–whole, mereological sums, singular terms, reference, natural and non-natural properties, indeterminacy of reference

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