What do we want to know when we ask the simple question

David Mark Kovacs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Simple Question (SQ) asks: 'What are the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions any x must satisfy in order for it to be true that x is a simple' The main motivation for asking SQ stems from the hope that it could teach us important lessons for material-object ontology. It is universally accepted that a proper answer to it has to be finite, complete and devoid of mereological expressions. This paper argues that we should stop treating SQ as the central question to be asked about simples; there are a plethora of questions about simples that may even be addressed without answering the original question. The paper closes with some tentative remarks on how this lesson could be extended to van Inwagen's Special Composition Question.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-266
Number of pages13
JournalPhilosophical Quarterly
Issue number255
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Markosian
  • Simple Question
  • Special Composition Question
  • composition
  • mereology
  • simples


Dive into the research topics of 'What do we want to know when we ask the simple question'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this