Parti. Generalità formale, neutralità e strategia ontologica

Gianmarco Brunialti Masera (
Dipartimento di Filosofia, Università degli Studi di Milano
June, 2011


The study aims at investigating whether the formal theory of parts (extensional mereology) may be considered as sufficiently general in formal-ontological terms, as to determine its suitability to correctly handle different domains and kinds of entities, particularly from a variety of metaphysical positions and against the traditional nominalistic setting in which Lesniewski's original axiomatic theory (1929) was born (historically, such theoretical work aimed at suggesting a solution for Russell's paradox and an alternative to set theory). Moreover, in response to the multitude of appeals for the neutrality and ontological innocence of the theory in contemporary debate (Simons (1987), Lewis (1991), Casati-Varzi (1999), Varzi (2009) to name a few), the research raises the question whether such appeals may be justifiable as to identify the theory as a possible tool within formal ontology. We believe the question cannot find an affirmative answer, in the case of the classical theory: its application may only lead to the definition of a monocategorial ontology which provides a simple unstructured taxonomy of entities (i.e. a list of parts), although the metaphysical neutrality of the theory can be potentially acknowledged, as it does not seem to force particular commitments upon the different pre-existing ontological views.