Journal Article

Plurals and complexes

K Hossack

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 51, issue 3, pages 411-443
Published in print September 2000 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online September 2000 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/51.3.411
Plurals and complexes

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Atomism denies that complexes exist. Common-sense metaphysics may posit masses, composite individuals and sets, but atomism says there are only simples. In a singularist logic, it is difficult to make a plausible case for atomism. But we should accept plural logic, and then atomism can paraphrase away apparent reference to complexes. The paraphrases require unfamiliar plural universals, but these are of independent interest; for example, we can identify numbers and sets with plural universals. The atomist paraphrases would fail if plurals presuppose complexes: but an Appendix shows that reference to complexes is not required in the semantics of plurals.

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Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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