Wholes and parts: the limits of composition

  • DH Mellor Cambridge University, Faculty of Philosophy, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge, CB1 1JS, UK


The paper argues that very different part-whole relations hold between different kinds of entities. While these relations share most of their formal properties, they need not share all of them. Nor need other mereological principles be true of all kinds of part-whole pairs. In particular, it is argued that the principle of unrestricted composition, that any two or more entities have a mereological sum, while true of sets and propositions, is false of things and events.

South African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 25(2) 2006: 138-145

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eISSN: 0258-0136