"The claim that atoms arranged baseballwise fail to compose a baseball might be hard to swallow. But it goes down like draught Guinness compared to the claim that baseballs are simples." - Trenton Merricks, Objects and Persons, p. 63.
Some context: so-called 'folk ontology' (i.e. 'commonsense' beliefs about what sorts of things there are, modified by just a bit of modern science) claims that there are a bunch of atoms bonded together in a spherical region which compose an object called a baseball. Merricks is arguing that, while all of those atoms exist, there does not exist, in addition to the atoms, a large object called a 'baseball' of which all those atoms are parts. In chapter 3, from which the quote is taken, he argues that if there were such an object as the baseball, it would be causally redundant - i.e. it wouldn't explain any occurrences not explained by the atoms. In this passage, he is claiming that if we try to say that it is the baseball which causes (say) the shattering of a window we will be forced to say that the baseball is a mereological simple - i.e. that it has no parts - and, therefore, that the atoms are not part of it. This, he says, is even less plausible than the claim that there is no baseball. And he likes Guinness.Posted by Kenny at November 15, 2008 5:25 PM
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