There is no 'Is' of constitution

Bryan Pickel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I defend the view that ordinary objects like statues are identical to the pieces of matter from which they are made. I argue that ordinary speakers assert sentences such as 'this statue is a molded piece of clay'. This suggests that speakers believe propositions which entail that ordinary objects such as statues are the pieces matter from which they are made, and therefore pluralism contradicts ordinary beliefs. The dominant response to this argument purports to find an ambiguity in the word 'is', such that 'is' in these sentences means the same as 'constitutes or is constituted by'. I will use standard tests for ambiguity to argue that this strategy fails. I then explore and reject other responses to the argument.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-211
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • Problems of constitution
  • 'Is' of constitution
  • Tests for ambiguity
  • Metaphysics


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