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What does “nothing over and above its parts” actually mean?

Smid, Jeroen LU (2017) In Philosophy Compass 12(1). p.1-13
Abstract
Some philosophers say that a whole is “nothing over and above” its parts. Most also take general extensional mereology to be treating wholes as “nothing over and above” their parts. It is not always clear, however, what exactly is meant by the phrase “nothing over and above.” Nor is it obvious why the phrase is associated with mereology, and what purpose it serves there. In the words of Peter Van Inwagen (1994, 210): “This slippery phrase has had a lot of employment in philosophy, but what it means is never explained by its employers.” This paper sheds light on the various senses in which one might hold that a whole is “nothing over and above” its parts, and on how these senses are related both to each other and to mereology.
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
mereology, parthood, composition, reduction
in
Philosophy Compass
volume
12
issue
1
pages
1 - 13
publisher
Blackwell
external identifiers
  • scopus:85008970138
  • wos:000393678900002
ISSN
1747-9991
DOI
10.1111/phc3.12391
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
eafafafb-2748-4c2b-931f-197bf4066b2b
date added to LUP
2017-01-25 10:23:30
date last changed
2018-01-07 11:46:41
@article{eafafafb-2748-4c2b-931f-197bf4066b2b,
  abstract     = {Some philosophers say that a whole is “nothing over and above” its parts. Most also take general extensional mereology to be treating wholes as “nothing over and above” their parts. It is not always clear, however, what exactly is meant by the phrase “nothing over and above.” Nor is it obvious why the phrase is associated with mereology, and what purpose it serves there. In the words of Peter Van Inwagen (1994, 210): “This slippery phrase has had a lot of employment in philosophy, but what it means is never explained by its employers.” This paper sheds light on the various senses in which one might hold that a whole is “nothing over and above” its parts, and on how these senses are related both to each other and to mereology.},
  articleno    = {e12391},
  author       = {Smid, Jeroen},
  issn         = {1747-9991},
  keyword      = {mereology,parthood,composition,reduction},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {1--13},
  publisher    = {Blackwell},
  series       = {Philosophy Compass},
  title        = {What does “nothing over and above its parts” actually mean?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/phc3.12391},
  volume       = {12},
  year         = {2017},
}