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Against Organicism: a defence of an ontology of everyday objects

Jennings, S.L.M.; (2010) Against Organicism: a defence of an ontology of everyday objects. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis claims that attempts to eliminate everyday objects from ontology on the basis of a priori reasoning about the composition relation fail. The thesis focuses on the positions of 'Organicist' philosophers; philosophers who argue that all that exists are organisms and microscopic (or smaller) mereological simples. Organicist positions have two key foundations: 1) arguments from compositional failure, which conclude that there are no everyday objects because (it is argued) there are no non-living composite entities. 2) A rhetorical move, the 'O-arranging manoeuvre', whereby it is claimed that the elimination of everyday objects from our ontology would make 'no-difference' because object-wise arrangements of mereological simples take their place. The thesis maintains that arguments from compositional failure should be reinterpreted as arguments to the conclusion that the notion of 'composition' being employed by Organicists is inadequate for the purposes of metaphysics. A minimal alternative account of everyday objects is posited. It is shown that by deploying the O-arranging manoeuvre Organicists (and other Eliminativists) commit themselves to all that is required on the presented account to entail the conclusion that everyday objects exist. The thesis concludes that there are everyday objects. It suggests that we should reject the idea that composition is what matters in ontology, but if one does not then the thesis gives reasons for rejecting compositional ontologies that entail the non-existence of everyday objects.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Against Organicism: a defence of an ontology of everyday objects
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/19621
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