Thesis Title: It’s Very Simple: A Defence of Hermeneutic Nihilism as the Correct Answer to the Special Composition Question
My thesis will defend mereological nihilism, which is a candidate answer to the Special Composition Question (SCQ). The SCQ asks, 'When do some smaller objects together compose a larger one?', and the nihilist answers, 'Never'. So nihilism is traditionally characterised as the view that composite objects, i.e. objects with parts, don't exist. Since tables, tuk-tuks, planets, penguins, molecules, mountains, etc. all appear to have parts, the nihilist is usually characterised as objectionably denying their existence. For similar reasons, nihilists usually deny that anything is a part of anything else. But I reject this characterisation of nihilism. I think it relies on implausible claims about what terms such as 'penguin' and predicates such as 'is a part of', would express/refer to if nihilism were true. So my research primarily aims to i) develop and defend a plausible semantic account that allows nihilists to accept the existence of tables, penguins, etc., and to claim that the parthood relation has a non-empty extension; ii) explore the extent to which this improves the nihilist's dialectical position; iii) investigate the metaontological questions that my approach raises.
Supervisors and Institution(s):
Dr Jonathan Tallant - University of Nottingham
Dr Nikk Effingham - University of Birmingham
Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):
Thunder, S. (2017) 'Mereological Nihilism: Keeping it Simple' in Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 6 (4): 278-287
Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:
Other Research Interests:
Philosophy of Mind, Ethics.
University email address: firstname.lastname@example.org