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Composition as Identity Doesn’t Settle the Special Composition Question


  • Thanks to Elizabeth Barnes, Karen Bennett, Daniel Elstein, Kris McDaniel, Ned Markosian, Jeff Russell, Ted Sider, Jason Turner, Meg Wallace, Robbie Williams, Richard Woodward, and an anonymous referee for PPR for helpful discussion.


Orthodoxy says that the thesis that composition is identity (CAI) entails universalism: the claim that any collection of entities has a sum. If this is true it counts in favour of CAI, since a thesis about the nature of composition that settles the otherwise intractable special composition question (SCQ) is desirable. But I argue that it is false: CAI is compatible with the many forms of restricted composition, and SCQ is no easier to answer given CAI than otherwise. Furthermore, in seeing why this is the case we reveal an objection to CAI: that it allows for the facts concerning what there is to be settled whilst leaving open the question about what is identical to what.