Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2022-23: Session 15

How to Build Things With Atoms

Claudio Calosi

University of Geneva


10 March 2023, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Atomism is the thesis that everything is ultimately composed of atoms. Typically, this thesis is characterized by an axiom stating that everything has atomic parts. The present paper argues that the success of this standard characterization crucially depends on how the notion of sum and composition are defined. In particular, it puts forward a novel definition of mereological sum that: (i) is not equivalent to extant definitions in the literature, provided no strong decomposition principle is assumed, (ii) can be used to claim that the standard characterization of atomism fails in that having atomic parts is not sufficient to be the sum of atoms,  (iii) delivers a purely mereological distinction between structured and unstructured wholes, and (iv) is sensitive to the (alleged) hierarchical nature of composition.