1st Edition

Powers, Parts and Wholes Essays on the Mereology of Powers

    260 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume offers a fresh exploration of the parts–whole relations within a power and among powers. While the metaphysics of powers has been extensively examined in the literature, powers have yet to be studied from the perspective of their mereology.

    Powers are often assumed to be atomic, and yet what they can do—and what can happen to them—is complex. But if powers are simple, how can they have complex manifestations? Can powers have parts? According to which rules of composition do powers compose into powers? Given the centrality of powers in current scientific as well as philosophical thought, recognizing and understanding the ontological differences between atomic and mereologically complex powers is important, for both philosophy and science. The first part of this book explores how powers divide; the second part, how powers compose. The final part showcases some specific study cases in the domains of quantum mechanics and psychology.

    Powers, Parts and Wholes will be of interest to professional philosophers and graduate students working in metaphysics, philosophy of science and logic.

    Introduction Christopher J. Austin, Anna Marmodoro, and Andrea Roselli

    Part 1: Parts of Powers

    1. Carving up the Network of Powers A.J. Cotnoir

    2. Parts and Grounds of Powers: A Logic and Ground-Theoretic Mereology for Power Ontologies Robert C. Koons

    3. Complex Powers: Making Many One Christopher J. Austin

    4. Powers as Mereological Lawmakers Michael Traynor

    5. Determinable Dispositions Nick Kroll

    Part 2: Composition of Powers

    6. What There Is and What There Could Be: Mereology, Causality, and Possibility in an Ontology of Powers Sophie R. Allen

    7. What Can Causal Powers do for Interventionism? The Problem of Logically Complex Causes Vera Hoffmann-Kolss

    8. Collective Powers Xi-Yang Guo and Matthew Tugby

    9. The Special-Power Composition Question and the Powerful Cosmos Joaquim Giannotti

    10. The Composition of Naïve Powers Michele Paolini Paoletti

    Part 3: Power Mereology in Science

    11. Quantum Dispositions and the Simple Theory of Property Composition Matteo Morganti

    12. Dispositions, Mereology and Panpsychism: The Case for Phenomenal Properties Simone Gozzano


    Christopher J. Austin is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the 'Mistakes in Living Systems: A New Conceptual Framework for the Study of Purpose in Biology' project at Reading University. His specialisation is in Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science. He is the author of Essence in the Age of Evolution: A New Theory of Natural Kinds (Routledge, 2018).

    Anna Marmodoro holds the Chair of Metaphysics in the department Philosophy of Durham University, and she is concomitantly an Associate Member of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Oxford. She specializes in two research areas: metaphysics, and ancient, late antiquity and medieval philosophy. Her latest monograph is Forms and Structure in Plato’s Metaphysics (2021).

    Andrea Roselli has been part of the Oxford-based Mereology of Potentiality research group for the last three years, while being a postdoctoral research associate at Durham University. He is specialised in Metaphysics, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Time.