By Geraldine Coggins
May there were not anything? is the 1st book-length examine of metaphysical nihilism – the declare that there might have been no concrete items. It significantly analyses the talk round nihilism and similar questions about the metaphysics of attainable worlds, concrete gadgets and ontological dependence.
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Extra info for Could there have been Nothing?: Against Metaphysical Nihilism
11 He says that an army will continue to exist if any given soldier leaves but that does not mean that the army can exist without any soldiers at all. This is analogous to the compositional account because it says that a world could have lacked any given object but it couldn’t have lacked all of its objects, as it would no longer be a world. So whether the sort of compositionalism in question is mereological, as in Lewis’ case, or of another kind, like that of Armstrong circa 1989, it seems that compositionalism about worlds and metaphysical nihilism cannot both be true.
Option (a) means accepting possibilism, the view that Lewis advocates, that claims that there are non-actual objects. Let us try to cash out this view. So our assumptions are (i) that worlds are sets and (ii) that there are non-actual objects which exist in other non-actual worlds. So, these non-actual worlds are sets containing non-actual objects. However, it’s not clear what work the claim that worlds are sets is doing here. If there are objects in a world so that the world-set is non-empty then there also exists a mereological sum of all the objects in that world.
So our assumptions are (i) that worlds are sets and (ii) that there are non-actual objects which exist in other non-actual worlds. So, these non-actual worlds are sets containing non-actual objects. However, it’s not clear what work the claim that worlds are sets is doing here. If there are objects in a world so that the world-set is non-empty then there also exists a mereological sum of all the objects in that world. Why not just say that that is the world? I suppose if one believed in metaphysical nihilism and in the arguments I have given above then one might cite these as reasons for saying that the world is the set containing all the objects in the world rather than the sum of those objects.