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Department of Philosophy

Jamie Taylor

18th November 2014: Title - Priority Monism and Junk

Abstract:

Recently in metaphysics, there has been much debate regarding fundamentality and grounding. Grounding is taken to be a relation of non-causal dependence, where for one entity to ground another is for the former to explain the existence and nature of that other entity. For something to be fundamental then is for that entity to be not grounded by anything else and that it grounds (by itself or in conjunction with other fundamental entities) everything which is not fundamental. Priority Monism is the view that the cosmos (aka - the 'cosmic whole': the object that is made up of all other concrete objects) is fundamental, and which therefore is taken as entailing that parts are grounded by the objects they make up.

The purpose of this paper is to explore whether the possibility of junk is a major problem for the Priority Monist. For a possible world to be junky is for everything in that world to be a part of another object, which would mean there could not be a cosmic whole. Given the assumption that what's fundamental needs to be fundamental in all possible worlds, the mere possibility of junk alone is incompatible with Priority Monism.

In this paper I will argue that there is good reason to think that junk is not possible, and that thought experiments which seemingly supported it being possible only support a weaker version of junk which would not preclude there being a cosmic whole. However this weak version of junk still presents a problem for the Priority Monist, and thus I argue that a new variety of Priority Monism needs to be developed in order to accommodate the possibility of this "weak junk".