Taking monism seriously

Cornell, David Michael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6980-8804 (2016) Taking monism seriously. Philosophical Studies, 173 (9). pp. 2397-2415. ISSN 0031-8116

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11098-015-0620-0


Monism is the view that there is only a single material object in existence: the world. According to this view, therefore, the ordinary objects of common sense—cats and hats, cars and stars, and so on—do not actually exist; there is only the world. Because of this, monism is routinely dismissed in the contemporary literature as being absurd and obviously false. It is simply obvious that there is a plurality of material things, thus it is simply obvious that monism is false, or so the argument goes. I call this the common sense argument against monism and in this paper I offer a response. I argue that providing the monist can make his view consistent with the appearance that there is a multiplicity of material things, then it is not rationally acceptable to reject monism solely on the basis of that appearance. Through an appeal to a particular type of property—distributional properties—I sketch out a plausible story of how monism is perfectly consistent with the appearance of plurality, and thus nullify the common sense argument. There may be any number of arguments that serve to undermine monism, but the common sense argument is not one of them. Monism deserves to be taken more seriously than that.

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