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Mereological Essentialism

Ross P. Cameron

Pages 349 - 352

There are various theses that go by the name ‘mereological essentialism’, but common to all is the thought that things have their parts essentially. The most obvious way of stating this is: for all objects x, for all parts y of x, x has y as a part in every world in which x exists. But there are various ways to read this claim.

1Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia

1 Burke, M., (1994), “Dion and Theon: An Essentialist Solution to an Ancient Puzzle”, Journal of Philosophy 91: 129-139,

2 Chisholm, R., (1973), “Parts as Essential to Their Wholes”, Review of Metaphysics 26: 581-603.

3 Chisholm, R., (1975), “Mereological Essentialism: Further Considerations”, Review of Metaphysics 28: 477-484.

4 Chisholm, R., (1976), Person and Object: A Metaphysical Study, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

5 Heller, M., (1990), The Ontology of Physical Objects: Four Dimensional Hunks of Matter, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jubien, M., 1993, Ontology, Modality, and the Fallacy of Reference, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

6 Lewis, D., (1986), On the Plurality of Worlds, Oxford: Blackwell

7 Plantinga, A., (1975), “On Mereological Essentialism”, Review of Metaphysics 28: 468-476.

8 Sider, T., (2001), Four-Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

9 van, Cleve, J, (1986), “Mereological Essentialism, Mereological Conjunctivism and Identity Through Time”, in French, Uehling and Wettstein, eds, Midwest Studies in Philosophy XI: Studies in Essentialism, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 141-156.

10 van, Inwagen, P., (1981), “The Doctrine of Arbitrary Undetached Parts”, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 62: 123-137.

11 van, Inwagen, P., (1995), Material Beings, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

12 Zimmerman, D., (1995), “Theories of Masses and Problems of Constitution”, Philosophical Review 104: 53-110.


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