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By Geraldine Coggins

May well there were not anything? is the 1st book-length examine of metaphysical nihilism – the declare that there might have been no concrete gadgets. It severely analyses the talk round nihilism and comparable questions about the metaphysics of attainable worlds, concrete items and ontological dependence.

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Extra resources for Could there have been Nothing?: Against Metaphysical Nihilism

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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. However, an attempt has been made to combine compositionalism with metaphysical nihilism. 12 In particular, Efird and Stoneham are looking at Lewisian compositionalism. They claim that Lewis’ theory can be extended in order to make it compatible with metaphysical nihilism.

He tells us that they are sets of spacetime points but is this true? I think that there are two problems with Rodriguez-Pereyra’s account. Firstly, sets are not the sorts of things that physical objects can occupy, whereas space-time regions can be occupied by physical objects. Conversely sets are the kinds of things that can have numbers, for example, as members. But space-time regions can’t have members. So space-time regions are not sets. Secondly, although there is obviously some sort of very important relationship between space-time points and space-time regions, it isn’t the relationship that a set has to its members.

We can see that the containment relationship is transitive by considering the room analogy again. If the room contains a box and the box contains a pen, then the room also contains the pen. So there is a disanalogy between the container view and the idea that the world is a set. So if the world is a set, the container view must not be right. The third version of this objection, the claim that the world is a set, where a world is some sort of ersatz object, is the option that is most plausible. This is because some versions of ersatzism do say that the world is a set.

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