Composition, identity and plural ontology


Published [open access] | Draft  |  Abstract

According to ‘Strong Composition as Identity’ (‘SCAI’), if an entity is composed of a plurality of entities, it is identical to them. As it has been argued in the literature, SCAI appears to give rise to some serious problems which seem to suggest that SCAI-theorists should take their plural quantifier to be governed by some ‘weak’ plural comprehension principle and, thus, ‘exclude’ some kinds of pluralities from their plural ontology. The aim of this paper is to argue that, contrary to what may appear at first sight, the assumption of a weak plural comprehension principle is perfectly compatible with plural logic and the common uses of plural quantification. As I aim to show, SCAI-theorists can simply claim that their theory must be understood as formulated by means of the most ‘joint-carving’ plural quantifier, thus leaving open the possibility of other, less joint-carving, ‘unrestricted’ plural quantifiers. In the final part of the paper I will also suggest that SCAI-theorists should not only allow for singular quantification over pluralities of entities, but also for plural quantification over ‘super-pluralities’ of entities.

There are no fundamental facts

Published [free access] | Draft | Abstract

I present an argument proving that there are no fundamental facts which is similar to an argument recently presented by Mark Jago for truthmaker maximalism. I suggest that this argument gives us at least some prima facie defeasible reason to believe that there are no fundamental facts.

How to make a gunky Spritz
Thought: A Journal of Philosophy

2019, 8(4): 250-9.

PublishedDraft  | Abstract

 In its simplest form, a Spritz is an aperitif made with (sparkling) water and (white) wine. A ‘gunky Spritz’, as I will call it, is a Spritz in which the water and the wine are mixed through and through, so that every proper part of the Spritz has a proper part containing both water and wine. In the literature on the notion of location the possibility of mixtures like a gunky Spritz has been thought of as either threatening seemingly intuitive locative principles, or as requiring the position of multiple primitive locative relations. In this paper I present a new theory of location which assumes as primitive only the notion of pervasive location and show that it can account for the possibility of gunky Spritz in an intuitive and adequate way.

On atomic composition as identity
[Special Issue: Mereology and Identity]

PublishedDraft  | Erratum: draft, pub | Abstract

In this paper I address two important objections to the theory called ‘(Strong) Composition as Identity’ (‘CAI’): the ‘wall-bricks-and-atoms problem’ (‘WaBrA problem’), and the claim that CAI entails mereological nihilism. I aim to argue that the best version of CAI capable of addressing both problems is the theory I will call ‘Atomic Composition as Identity’ (‘ACAI’) which consists in taking the plural quantifier to range only over proper pluralities of mereological atoms and every non-atomic entity to be identical to the (proper) plurality of atoms it fuses. I will proceed in three main steps. First, I will defend Sider’s (2014) idea of weakening the comprehension principle for pluralities and I will show that (pace Calosi 2016a) it can ward off both the WaBrA problem and the threat of mereological nihilism. Second, I will argue that CAI-theorists should uphold an ‘atomic comprehension principle’ which, jointly with CAI, entails that there are only proper pluralities of mereological atoms. Finally, I will present a novel reading of the ‘one of’ relation that not only avoids the problems presented by Yi (1999a, 2014) and Calosi (2016b, 2018) but can also help ACAI-theorists to make sense of the idea that a composite entity is both one and many.

No ground for doomsday
Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy
2019, 62(9-10): 1136-56

PublishedDraft  | Abstract

The ability of providing an adequate supervenience base for tensed truths may seem to be one of the main theoretical advantages of both the growing-block and the moving-spotlight theory of time over presentism. However, in this paper I will argue that some propositions appear to be as problematic for growing-block theorists as past-directed propositions are for presentists, namely propositions stating that nothing will be the case in the future. Furthermore, I will show that the moving-spotlight theory can adequately address all the main supervenience challenges that can be levelled against A-theories of time. I will, thus, conclude that, at least as far as the supervenience principle is concerned, the moving-spotlight theory should be preferred over both presentism and the growing-block theory.

The open future
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Published  |  Summary 

Fine’s trilemma and the reality of tensed facts
Thought: A Journal of Philosophy
2018, 7(13): 209-17

Published | Draft  | Abstract

Fine (2005, 2006) has presented a ‘trilemma’ concerning the tense-realist idea that reality is constituted by tensed facts. According to Fine, there are only three ways out of the trilemma, consisting in what he takes to be the three main families of tense-realism: ‘presentism’, ‘(external) relativism’, and ‘fragmentalism’. Importantly, although Fine characterises tense-realism as the thesis that reality is constituted (at least in part) by tensed facts, he explicitly claims that tense realists are not committed to their fundamental existence. Recently, Correia and Rosenkranz (2011, 2012) have claimed that Fine’s tripartite map of tense realism is incomplete as it misses a fourth position they call ‘dynamic absolutism’. In this paper, I will argue that dynamic absolutists are committed to the irreducible existence of tensed facts and that, for this reason, they face a similar trilemma concerning the notion of fact-content. I will thus conclude that a generalised version of Fine’s trilemma, concerning both fact-constitution and fact-content, is indeed inescapable.

Against ‘Against ‘Against Vague Existence”
Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Volume 11
2018: 278-87
Published | Draft Abstract

Alessandro Torza argues that Ted Sider’s Lewisian argument against vague existence is insufficient to rule out the possibility of what he calls ‘super-vague existence’, that is the idea that existence is higher-order vague, for all orders. In this chapter it is argued that the possibility of super-vague existence is ineffective against the conclusion of Sider’s argument since super-vague existence cannot be consistently claimed to be a kind of linguistic vagueness. Torza’s idea of super-vague existence seems to be better suited to model vague existence under the assumption that vague existence is instead a form of ontic indeterminacy, contra what Ted Sider and David Lewis assume. 

The Philosophical Quarterly

A sudden collapse to nihilism
The Philosophical Quarterly
2018, 68: 370–75.

Published | Draft | Abstract

According to Composition is Identity, a whole is literally identical to the plurality of its parts. According to Mereological Nihilism, nothing has proper parts. In this note, it is argued that Composition is Identity can be shown to entail Mereological Nihilism in a much more simple and direct way than the one recently proposed by Claudio Calosi. 

Fine’s McTaggart: Reloaded
Special Issue: Time and Reality
2017, 40(1): 209-39.

Published | Draft | Abstract

 In this paper I present three arguments (based on the notions of constitution, metaphysical reality, and truth, respectively) with the aim of shedding some new light on the structure of Fine’s (2005, 2006) ‘McTaggartian’ arguments against the reality of tense. Along the way, I also (i) draw a novel map of the main realist positions about tense, (ii) unearth a previously unnoticed but potentially interesting form of external relativism (which I label ‘hyper-presentism’) and (iii) sketch a novel interpretation of Fine’s fragmentalism (which I contrast with Lipman’s 2015, 2016b, forthcoming).

Grounding, contingency and transitivity
2017, 30(1): 1-14.

Published | Draft Abstract

Grounding contingentism is the doctrine according to which grounds are not guaranteed to necessitate what they ground. In this paper I will argue that the most plausible version of contingentism (which I will label ‘serious contingentism’) is incompatible with the idea that the grounding relation is transitive, unless either ‘priority monism’ or ‘contrastivism’ are assumed.

Parts ground the whole and are identical to it
Australasian Journal of Philosophy
2016, 94(3): 489-98.

Published | DraftAbstract

What is the relation between the parts taken together and the whole they compose? The recent literature appears to be dominated by two different answers to this question, which are normally thought of as being incompatible. According to the first, the parts taken together are identical to the whole they compose. According to the second, the whole is grounded in its parts. The aim of this paper is to make some theoretical room for the view according to which parts ground the whole they compose while being, at the same time, identical to it.

Grounds, roots and abysses
Thought: A Journal of Philosophy
2016, 5(1): 41-52.

Published | Draft | Abstract

The aim of this paper is to address the ‘Grounding Grounding Problem’, that is, the question as to what, if anything, grounds facts about grounding. I aim to show that, if a seemingly plausible principle of modal recombination between fundamental facts and the principle customarily called ‘Entailment’ are assumed, it is possible to prove not only that grounding facts featuring fundamental, contingent grounds are derivative but also that either they are (at least) partially grounded in the grounds they feature or they are ‘abysses’ (that is, derivative facts without fundamental grounds and lying at the top of an infinitely descending chain of ground).

How to change the past in one-dimensional time
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly
2015, 96(1): 1-11.

Published | Draft | Abstract

The possibility of changing the past by means of time-travel appears to depend on the possibility of distinguishing the past as it is ‘before’ the time travel changes it, from the past as it is ‘after’ the time-traveller has changed it, so to speak. So far, all the metaphysical models that have been proposed to account for the possibility of past-changing time-travels operate this distinction by conceiving of time as multi-dimensional, and thus by significantly inflating our metaphysics of time. The aim of this article is to argue that, by assuming an eternalist and four-dimensionalist ontology, and an exdurantist (or stage-theoretic) theory of persistence, there is an intuitive sense in which past-changing time-travels are metaphysically possible also in one-dimensional time.

Indeterminate actuality and the open future
2013, 73(2): 248-260.


The aim of this paper is to propose a novel supervaluationist theory of ‘actually’ in the open future. First, I will argue that any adequate theory of actuality in a branching setting must comply with three main desiderata. Second, I will prove that none of the actuality operators that have been proposed in the literature is up to the task. Finally, I will propose a novel theory of actuality in the open future combining one of the existing definitions of the actuality operator with a new definition of the historical possibility operator, and argue for its adequacy. The central feature of the theory I will advance is the introduction of an actuality parameter capable of being shifted by the historical possibility operator. I will argue that this account appears to not only be consistent with the idea that the future is genuinely open, but also with the general idea that ‘actually’ is, in a relevant sense, a ‘rigid’ operator.

Branching time, actuality and the puzzle of retrospective determinacy
Thought: A Journal of Philosophy
2012, 1(1): 16-25.

Published | Draft | Abstract

The supervaluationist approach to branching time (‘SBT-theory’) appears to be threatened by the puzzle of retrospective determinacy: if yesterday I uttered the sentence ‘It will be sunny tomorrow’ and only in some worlds overlapping at the context of utterance it is sunny the next day, my utterance is to be assessed as neither true nor false even if today is indeed a sunny day. MacFarlane (‘Truth in the Garden of Forking Paths’) has recently criticized a promising solution to this puzzle for falling short of an adequate account of ‘actually’. In this paper, I aim to rebut MacFarlane’s criticism. To this effect, I argue that: (i) ‘actually’ can be construed either as an indexical or as a nonindexical operator; (ii) if ‘actually’ is nonindexical, MacFarlane’s criticism is invalid; (iii) there appear to be independent reasons for SBT-theorists to claim that ‘actually’ is a nonindexical expression

Escape from epistemic island
2012, 72(3): 498-506.


It is argued that there are sentences and pairs of sentences, belonging to the family of ‘truth-tellers’ and ‘no–no sentences’, such that it is possible to prove (and, hence come to know) their truth-value.

Fatalism and the necessity of the present: reply to Campbell
2010, 70(1): 76-78.


I argue, contra Campbell (2010, ‘Incompatibilism and fatalism: Reply to Loss, Analysis, 70: 71–76) that the principle of the ‘necessity of the present’ I defended in Loss (2009) does not entail fatalism

Free will and the necessity of the present
2009, 69(1): 63-69.


Joseph Keim Campbell (2007) has recently criticized Peter van Inwagen’s (1983) Third Argument against compatibilism for its reliance on the existence of a remote past. In response, Anthony Brueckner (2008) has offered a new version of the Third Argument showing that determinism and free will are incompatible for all times t relative to which there is a past (which needn’t be a remote one). In this paper I argue that although Brueckner’s retooled argument fails to prove anything in favour of incompatibilism, its conclusion can be exploited to provide another version of van Inwagen’s original argument that doesn’t rely on the existence of past times, thus withstanding Campbell’s criticism.

Yet another problem for reichenbachian approaches to the semantic analysis of indexical languages
The Reasoner
2008, 2(6): 4-5.


Actuality in the garden of forking paths
In M. Carrara & V. Morato, Language,

Knowledge and Metaphysics:
selected papers from the 1st SIFA Graduate Conference
, 2008, College Publications, London.

Tempo, totalitá e contraddizione: ció che il principio non dice
[Time, totality and contradiction: what the principle does not say]

In: Francesco Altea, Francesco Berto (eds),
Scenari dell’impossibile.
La contraddizione nel pensiero contemporaneo

[Scenarios of the impossible. Contradiction in contemporary thought],
2007, Il Poligrafo, Padova.