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Title: Why there is only one thing : a defence of ontological monism
Author: Cornell, David Michael
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2013
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In this dissertation I will present and defend Ontological Monism: the thesis which states that there is only a single concrete object in existence – the world itself. According to this view, the world is mereologically simple; it has no proper parts. Because of this, monism may initially strike one as being absurd, for it may be thought that it is simply obvious that there is a plurality of concrete objects. There are trees, rocks, cats and larks; there are galaxies, planets, leptons and quarks. If monism denies this then it is blatantly false and, worse, patently absurd, or so one may think. It is true, I concede, that monism denies the existence of all these things. But it is false, I claim, that this renders it absurd. It is the purpose of this thesis to show that monism is actually a coherent, plausible and attractive metaphysical view. Indeed, it is the purpose of this thesis to convince the reader that monism is true. The thesis will progress in a number of stages. I will begin in §1 by looking at the metaphysics of composite objects. Specifically, I will be revisiting Peter van Inwagen’s Special Composition Question; the question which asks when two or more material objects compose a further material object. In §2, §3, and §4, I will consider various responses to this question, and conclude that the correct answer to the SCQ is ‘never’. That is, I will argue for compositional nihilism, the view that there are no composite objects at all. In §5 I will present a number of arguments to show that monism represents the best form of nihilism. If you’re a nihilist, you should also be a monist, or so I will claim. In §6 I will provide some independent support for the possibility of there being spatially extended, yet mereologically simple objects. In §7 I will explain, in detail, how the monist can explain the appearance of plurality given that there is, in fact, only singularity. I will introduce, explain, and defend a new type of property: irreducible structured distributional properties. Armed with this type of property, the monist can provide a satisfying explanation of why it seems as though there are many things, when there is in fact only one. In §8 I will address some objections that have been presented against monism, and show how they are best overcome.
Supervisor: Le Poidevin, Robin ; Cameron, Ross Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available