The Structure of Objects by Kathrin Koslicki
Just a quick note on this important mereology work, which takes what I’d call a deeply simple approach to the problem of what is a “whole object”
She makes three main moves
- Parts need to be arranged in a structured manner to form a whole.
- The specification of this structure is a component of the whole but not a physical object.
- The form and content of this specification is deferred to other fields and is not an appropriate object of study for mereology (after all the mereologer would not be the appropriate person to determine what is a cell, or what is an automobile).
These “three simple steps” are enough to get past most of the problems with existing approaches, while allowing for reasonably succinct “whole object” specifications.
Structured assembly prevents “just a bunch of parts” from being a whole. While positing that the specification is necessary part but of a different kind than the other parts gives a solid purchase on the idea that the whole is something different from the parts, without creating any of those contradictory self referential sets. I consider the third move a necessary exercise in “rathole avoidance” Mereologists might think that they have something to offer here, but that something wouldn’t involve the content, but rather the structure of that content: delineating the logic through which it would operate.