Workshop: Joshua Spencer (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Department: Philosophy

Date and Time: January 23, 2018 | 12:00 PM-2:00 PM

Event Location: Melden Library

Event Details

Title: "On the Explanatory Demands of the Special Composition Question"

The Special Composition Question may be formulated as follows: for any xs whatsoever, what are the metaphysically necessary and jointly sufficient conditions in virtue of which there is a y such that those xs compose y? But what is the scope of the sought after explanation? Should an answer merely explain compositional facts, or should it also explain certain ontological facts as well? On one natural reading, the question seeks an explanation of both the compositional facts and the ontological; the question seeks to explain how composite objects exist; how there is a y such that the xs compose y. But it turns out that some answers to the Special Composition Question presuppose those ontological facts rather than explain those ontological facts. In this paper, I will indicate what I take to be the different explanatory demands met by the representative answers. I will argue that the wide scope explanatory demands can’t be satisfied. Finally, I will show that this result has bearing on the current debate about composition.