Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A related Point about mereology

This is related to my last post. So, I suggest reading that post before reading this one.

I was wondering if a similar Salmon like view might lead us toward the view that certain conversational activities on the parts of classical mereologists result in certain activity dependent entities and an activity dependent part/whole-like relation that satisfy classical extensional mereology.

The idea would be that there is a relation expressed by ' is a part of' in the mouths of classical mereologists. This is not the relation expressed by ordinary english speakers (well probably not). Rather it is an activity dependent relation similar to the property 'is a unicorn' or 'is deposited in' (as used with respest to chacking accounts. Moreover, there are certain activity dependent entities that stand in this relation to other entities (some of them are activity dependent and others are not). Thus, the classical mereologists expresses a truth, in some strange language, when he says "there is something that both Chris and the Eiffel tower are a part of".

Such a view would have the following strange problems. Just by engaging in some activities, the classical mereologists will make it such that the number of entities in the universe is 2^n-1. But, it doesn't seem like anyone could have that kind of power. Also, certain mereologists can make it such that there are no omniscient beings or other kinds of entities (because of Rosen-like worries). But, how could any mereologists have that kind of power.

Finally, I worry that this entire enterprise of using activity dependant beings to solve various philosophical problems is going to lead down a slippery slope to a stupid kind of view according to which all sorts of seemingly metaphysically robust entities are just mind dependant. Are we, going to slide into a stupid Lockean view about properties for example? That would seem like a bad consequence.


Blogger Chris Tillman said...

I think something close to the view you espouse is right. I think there is a relation that satisfies the axioms of CEM, but that relation does not exist due to the activities of early 20th century Poles. 'Parthood is an extensional relation' is false, but 'according to CEM, parthood is an extensional relation' is true. Roughly, a representation is a putting together of some properties and relations with extensions and intensions. CEM represents the world one way. We give usual satisfaction conditions to representations--a representation R represents @ accurately iff @ is the way R says it is. All of R's ingredients exist and are mind-independent. But that B is the case according to A does not entail that B is actual. So we don't have to impart strange powers to mereologists. Nor do we have to be Meinongian. (What I'm thinking of is along the lines of Priest's view but without the Meinongianism.) Does that work?

Also, I'm puzzled about what your current view is on 'is a unicorn'. I'm pretty compelled by Kripke's line on this but I have doubts. And what you say seems not compatible with Kripke. So whaddup?

12:30 PM  

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