An Extensional Mereology for Structured Entities

Alessandro Giordani, Ilaria Canavotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we present an extensional system of mereology suitable to account for the intuitive distinction between heaplike and non-heaplike entities. Since the need to capture this distinction has been a key motivation for non-extensional mereologies, we first assess the main non-extensional systems advanced in the last years and highlight some mereological and metaphysical difficulties they involve. We then advance a novel program, according to which the distinction between heaplike and non-heaplike entities can be accounted for by bringing together the parthood relation characterized by classical extensional mereology and an Aristotelian extensional notion of potential parthood. Thus, while rejecting the thesis of mereological monism, our proposal is consistent with the thesis of mereological extensionalism. We show that within this framework it is possible to characterize the above-mentioned distinction, to define the relation of material constitution, and to capture three fundamental standpoints in metaphysics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • extensionality
  • mereology
  • potential parts
  • structured wholes


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