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Keynote Address


Professor Calvin Normore, UCLA/McGill

Professor Normore


"Fundamental Things"


Aristotle and Descartes agree that the more what something is involves something else the less its degree of reality. If there are things such that what they are does not involve anything else at all these then are both most real and in a significant sense most fundamental. This metaphysical atomism led Aquinas to argue that genuine substances had no parts ontologically independent of them and Spinoza to argue that genuine substance had no parts at all. It is closely connected with a number of issues including the scope and significance of criteria of identity, the nature of relations, and the ontological status both of the posits of microphysics and of ordinary composite things like animals and artifacts. I argue that metaphysical atomism, properly understood of course, is defensible against both 19th century and more recent versions of doctrines of internal relations and provides a plausible foundation for a theory of objects both fundamental and ordinary.


Calvin Normore is Professor of Philosophy at UCLA and William MacDonald Professor of Moral Philosophy at McGill University. Born and raised in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, where he attended Regina Regional High School, he received his university education at McGill University (B.A. Hons 1968) and the University of Toronto (Ph.D. 1976). He was a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta and a Senior Fellow in the Humanities at Columbia University. He has held teaching appointments at York University in Toronto, Princeton University, the University of Toronto, the Ohio State University, the University of California, Irvine, and Yale University. He has been President of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and L'Institut International de Philosophie.