Joseph Long (Department of Philosophy) Publishes Peer-reviewed Article: The College at Brockport

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Joseph Long (Department of Philosophy) Publishes Peer-reviewed Article

This essay focuses on non-eliminative nihilism, thesis that although composite objects do not exist, ordinary objects (e.g., galaxies, planets, stars, ships, tables, books, organisms, cells, molecules, or atoms) do exist.

Gabriele Contessa has recently introduced and defended a view he calls ‘non-eliminative nihilism’. Non-eliminative nihilism (NEN, henceforth) is the conjunction of mereological nihilism and non-eliminativism about ordinary objects. Mereological nihilism (nihilism) is the thesis that composite objects do not exist, where something is a composite object just in case it has proper parts. Eliminativism about ordinary objects (eliminativism) denies that ordinary objects exist. Eliminativism thus implies, for example, that there are no galaxies, planets, stars, ships, tables, books, organisms, cells, molecules, or atoms. Non-eliminativism is the denial of eliminativism. Thus, NEN is the intriguing thesis that although composite objects do not exist, ordinary objects do. In this essay, I, first, summarize Contessa’s core support for NEN. Second, I describe two flaws in that support when it comes to organismic terms (e.g., ‘amoeba’, ‘cat’, and ‘human’). Third, I consider and reject two possible responses on behalf of NEN’s defenders. Fourth, I show how the flaws cast doubt upon NEN itself. Finally, I offer reasons to think that if nihilism is true, then the folk (including scientists) have probably been trying to fix the reference of organismic terms to apparent objects within illusions.

Contact:

Joseph Long, jlong@brockport.edu

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