Merricks’s “Truth and Ontology”
February 20, 2008 — 10:41

Author: Trent Dougherty  Category: Books of Interest  Comments: 4

Trenton Merricks‘s recent book is reviewed today at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. It will be of interest to Prosblogion readers not just because Trenton is a sometime philosopher of religion and that the review by Ben Caplan thanks our own Tim Pawl, but also because it discusses issues in ontology such as presentism, eternalism, endurantism, truthmakers for subjunctive conditionals, etc. that are relevant to issues in the philosophy of religion and philosophical theology such as the nature of God, freedom and foreknowledge, molinism in particular, and others.
Trenton is one of my very most favorite authors and I hope to get to teach this book soon.

  • Douglas

    Hey Trent.
    Isn’t Merricks a mereological nihilist? I don’t recall. I’ve been fascinated by mereological nihilism lately. I know, it seems strange since there is a sense in which there is nothing to be fascinated with. I’ve been reading Van Inwagen’s Material Beings. What do you think of mereological nihilism(compositional nihilism)?

    February 20, 2008 — 17:11
  • Douglas,
    Nope, he believes that atoms can compose persons. After reading Material Beings, I recommend you read Merricks’ book Objects and Persons. Both van Inwagen and Merricks are restricted compositionists, but for different reasons.

    February 22, 2008 — 1:58
  • Douglas

    Thanks. I know Van Inwagen believes organisms exist by participating in a life, or some such thing. I wasn’t aware until late yesterday(I’m typing at 2am), when another blogger(John Depoe) informed me that Merricks believed something similar.
    So, thank you for your correction to the appropriate terms. I’ll remember to use restricted compositionist now. Peter Unger would properly be a compositional nihilist, correct?
    Still, I am curious to see thoughts on Van Inwagen and Merricks. It appears there are a lot of closet restricted compositionists around, judging from the thoughts I’ve gathered so far.

    February 22, 2008 — 4:09
  • Andrew Moon

    Hi Doug,
    From what I know, the terms “mereological universalism” and “unrestricted compositionism” mean the same thing, and “mereological nihilism” and “compositional nihilism” mean the same thing. I believe that Merricks uses the latter terms (at least in this 2005 article called “Composition and Vagueness”), and van Inwagen uses the former terms. I know that Merricks uses the term “restricted compositionist”, and I don’t remember what van Inwagen calls this.
    MOST people are restricted compositionists because that is the common sense view. People believe in bookbags, but not tapelers (the object supposedly composed of a piece of tape and my stapeler). However, Merricks and Van Inwagen do a lot of eliminating in that they don’t believe in bookbags.
    It tends to be that once one starts thinking about it, you go either nihilist or universalist. It’s hard to not, because there doesn’t seem to be a principled way to stop either the eliminating or the inflating of objects. PvI thinks he does this with “lives” and Merricks thinks he does this with nonredundant causation. I’m not sure if they’re right. I was a nihilist for a while, but I might just hold the common sense view because common sense matters.
    Anyway, I recommend Merricks’ book. His arguments are clearly stated, which is something I highly value.

    February 26, 2008 — 22:10