Ideas of Peter Simons, by Theme

[British, fl. 2003, Professor at Leeds University, and at Trinity College, Dublin.]

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1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 1. Nature of Metaphysics
Metaphysics attempts to give an account of everything, in terms of categories and principles
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 1. Analysis
Analytic philosophers may prefer formal systems because natural language is such mess
4. Formal Logic / G. Formal Mereology / 1. Mereology
Classical mereology doesn't apply well to the objects around us
A 'part' has different meanings for individuals, classes, and masses
Complement: the rest of the Universe apart from some individual, written x-bar
Criticisms of mereology: parts? transitivity? sums? identity? four-dimensional?
4. Formal Logic / G. Formal Mereology / 2. Terminology of Mereology
Proper or improper part: x < y, 'x is (a) part of y'
Disjoint: two individuals are disjoint iff they do not overlap, written 'x | y'
Difference: the difference of individuals is the remainder of an overlap, written 'x - y'
Overlap: two parts overlap iff they have a part in common, expressed as 'x o y'
Product: the product of two individuals is the sum of all of their overlaps, written 'x y'
Sum: the sum of individuals is what is overlapped if either of them are, written 'x + y'
General sum: the sum of objects satisfying some predicate, written σx(Fx)
General product: the nucleus of all objects satisfying a predicate, written πx(Fx)
Universe: the mereological sum of all objects whatever, written 'U'
Atom: an individual with no proper parts, written 'At x'
Dissective: stuff is dissective if parts of the stuff are always the stuff
4. Formal Logic / G. Formal Mereology / 3. Axioms of Mereology
Classical mereology doesn't handle temporal or modal notions very well
The part-relation is transitive and asymmetric (and thus irreflexive)
Each wheel is part of a car, but the four wheels are not a further part
Two standard formalisations of part-whole theory are the Calculus of Individuals, and Mereology
4. Formal Logic / G. Formal Mereology / 4. Groups
A 'group' is a collection with a condition which constitutes their being united
The same members may form two groups
'The wolves' are the matter of 'the pack'; the latter is a group, with different identity conditions
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / a. Names
Philosophy is stuck on the Fregean view that an individual is anything with a proper name
5. Theory of Logic / G. Quantification / 6. Plural Quantification
Some natural languages don't distinguish between singular and plural
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 1. Nature of Change
There are real relational changes, as well as bogus 'Cambridge changes'
Four-dimensional ontology has no change, since that needs an object, and time to pass
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 2. Processes
Fans of process ontology cheat, since river-stages refer to 'rivers'
I don't believe in processes
Slow and continuous events (like balding or tree-growth) are called 'processes', not 'events'
Maybe processes behave like stuff-nouns, and events like count-nouns
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 3. Moments
A smiling is an event with causes, but the smile is a continuant without causes
A wave is maintained by a process, but it isn't a process
Moments are things like smiles or skids, which are founded on other things
Moving disturbances are are moments which continuously change their basis
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 4. Events / a. Nature of events
I do not think there is a general identity condition for events
Einstein's relativity brought events into ontology, as the terms of a simultaneity relationships
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 4. Events / b. Events as primitive
Relativity has an ontology of things and events, not on space-time diagrams
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 4. Ontological Dependence
Independent objects can exist apart, and maybe even entirely alone
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 8. Stuff / a. Pure stuff
Mass nouns admit 'much' and 'a little', and resist 'many' and 'few'.
Mass terms (unlike plurals) are used with indifference to whether they can exist in units
Gold is not its atoms, because the atoms must be all gold, but gold contains neutrons
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 8. Stuff / b. Mixtures
Mixtures disappear if nearly all of the mixture is one ingredient
A mixture can have different qualities from its ingredients.
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 13. Tropes / a. Nature of tropes
Internal relations combine some tropes into a nucleus, which bears the non-essential tropes
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 4. Individuation / a. Individuation
To individuate something we must pick it out, but also know its limits of variation
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 4. Individuation / e. Individuation by kind
Sortal nouns for continuants tell you their continuance- and cessation-conditions
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / a. Intrinsic unification
A whole requires some unique relation which binds together all of the parts
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / b. Cat and its tail
Does Tibbles remain the same cat when it loses its tail?
Tibbles isn't Tib-plus-tail, because Tibbles can survive its loss, but the sum can't
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / d. Coincident objects
Without extensional mereology two objects can occupy the same position
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 5. Composition of an Object
Composition is asymmetric and transitive
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 6. Constitution of an Object
A hand constitutes a fist (when clenched), but a fist is not composed of an augmented hand
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / a. Parts of objects
We say 'b is part of a', 'b is a part of a', 'b are a part of a', or 'b are parts of a'.
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / b. Sums of parts
'Mereological extensionality' says objects with the same parts are identical
Classical mereology says there are 'sums', for whose existence there is no other evidence
If there are c atoms, this gives 2^c - 1 individuals, so there can't be just 2 or 12 individuals
Sums are more plausible for pluralities and masses than they are for individuals
Sums of things in different categories are found within philosophy.
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / c. Wholes from parts
The wholeness of a melody seems conventional, but of an explosion it seems natural
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 5. Essence as Kind
Objects have their essential properties because of the kind of objects they are
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 7. Essence and Necessity / b. Essence not necessities
We must distinguish the de dicto 'must' of propositions from the de re 'must' of essence
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 11. Essence of Artefacts
Original parts are the best candidates for being essential to artefacts
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 12. Essential Parts
An essential part of an essential part is an essential part of the whole
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 4. Four-Dimensionalism
Four dimensional-objects are stranger than most people think
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 7. Intermittent Objects
Intermittent objects would be respectable if they occurred in nature, as well as in artefacts
Objects like chess games, with gaps in them, are thereby less unified
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 9. Ship of Theseus
An entrepreneur and a museum curator would each be happy with their ship at the end
The 'best candidate' theories mistakenly assume there is one answer to 'Which is the real ship?'
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 12. Origin as Essential
The zygote is an essential initial part, for a sexually reproduced organism
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / a. Transworld identity
The limits of change for an individual depend on the kind of individual
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 6. Abstract Concepts / g. Abstracta by equivalence
Any equivalence relation among similar things allows the creation of an abstractum
Abstraction is usually seen as producing universals and numbers, but it can do more
20. Action / A. Definition of Action / 2. Duration of an Action
With activities if you are doing it you've done it, with performances you must finish to have done it
21. Aesthetics / F. Arts / 1. Music
One false note doesn't make it a performance of a different work