What do realists say about parts and wholes?

Do they never / sometimes / usually / always, claim that the reality of something is a part of it? By that I mean (roughly) e.g.:

  • Real cream is real because it is composed of milk
  • Real scientific events make up the empirical world they cause

If those examples or the question is too vague and botched: what is the realist's default mereology?

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    Would need to research for an actual answer, but I don't think realists normally think of the reality of something as being just another part of it the way that, for example, the legs of a chair are part of the chair. But certain theistic realists would say that since God is ipsum esse, reality/existence/being is itself a real thing that other things participate in, so in that sense it is a "part" of it. Oct 5, 2015 at 20:37
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    Also - it would generally benefit the community to have more questions on mereology! Great question! Oct 5, 2015 at 20:39

1 Answer 1


Realism is a priori neutral on these issues. It only says that there exists something objective, independent of the fact that we observe or represent it (and usually that it corresponds to our representations of it).

The issue of mereology has more to do with the question of reduction and emergence. You have reductive and non-reductive physicalism for example, but both are versions of realism.


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