Craig Callender and Jonathan Schaffer

Craig Callender (left) and Jonathan Schaffer (right) on meta-metaphysics.

Do mereological sums constitute objects? Questions like this are hotly debated in contemporary metaphysics — yet such questions seem utterly disconnected from science. Has metaphysics gone in the wrong direction? Callender and Schaffer explore the issue.

Related works

by Callender:
Philosophy of Science and Metaphysics” (forthcoming)
Time’s Ontic Voltage” (draft)

by Schaffer:
On What Grounds What” (2009)
Monism: The Priority of the Whole” (2010)

More video:
Craig Callender’s diavlogs (BhTV)

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post inaccurately described Schaffer’s position. We apologize for the error.


Filed under meta-metaphysics, Metaphysics, Methodology

4 Responses to Craig Callender and Jonathan Schaffer

  1. Marco P. Camacho

    In the case of mereology, I agree with Mr. Schaffer that there is a substantive debate going on there. Substantive how is a different question entirely, I think. Substantive in that the right viewpoint posited will yield an upshot for scientific inquiry is a tall claim, which is why I’m sympathetic with Mr. Callender hesitation.

    I would have loved to see Schaffer defend his position on the idea of a fundamental in metaphysics. Keep the metaphysics coming!

  2. Marco P. Camacho

    Pardon the misspellings!

  3. I’m also with Mr. Schaffer on this one. But that might be because I share most of his views (perdurantism, the existence of mereological sums, the existence of the mereological universe).

    I actually go so far as to accept Unrestricted Composition. Mostly I just see this as the best and most consistent way to represent reality (I don’t have to explain why some things form mereological sums and others don’t). However, contrary to Schaffer, I don’t see how any of this can be tested empirically.

  4. I see metaphysics as providing the structure of our model of reality, and parthood seems to be to be a fundamental relation of this structure. Once we have this structure of the whole model, perhaps divided into spatial parts, temporal parts, possible world-like parts, etc., then we use empirical science to fill in the details about these parts, such as their observable properties or the causal relations between them.