Universalism is the view that composition is unrestricted: whenever there are some things, there is something composed of those things. One problem with universalism is that has counterintuitive implications: intuitively, there is nothing composed of my nose and the Eiffel Tower. Universalists typically reply that this need not worry us, since intuitions about when composition occurs or what kinds of things there can and can’t be are (plainly) the products of biocultural accidents. To take a representative example, Hud Hudson says:
“The sensible things to be said [about which composites there are] are all rooted in facts about our ever-changing and nearly-always fuzzy and indeterminate interests and purposes. Our problem is that we simply mistake a strategy for identifying objects that are likely to concern us in some way or other for a guide to which composite objects exist. Furthermore, the mistake is so deeply ingrained in our casual inventory of the world’s furniture ... that it illegitimately becomes the source of powerful intuitions that speak against Universalism ... Once we fully recognize the source of these intuitions, however, they seem to lose much of their force.” (2001, 107)
But why accept universalism, rather than an eliminativist view according to which composition rarely occurs, or never occurs? Evidently, the answer is that eliminativism is deeply counterintuitive. Hudson, one page later:
“van Inwagen, for instance, backs a principle that permits [organisms and no other composites]. But the costs are too high. Once again, I possess a much stronger intuition in favor of the existence of chairs than I do against the existence of that thing which is the fusion of all the extant copies of The Gutenberg Bible, the ruin at Stonehenge, and all the world’s silk” (2001, 108)
But didn’t we just agree that these intuitions can’t be trusted? Why should it matter that the pro-chair intuitions are stronger than the anti-fusion intuitions? How is this any different from favoring universalism over eliminativism because when I asked my magic eight-ball whether there are chairs it said “definitely” and when I asked it whether there are strange fusions it only said “probably not”?
In fact, I wonder whether there even *could* be any serious reason for resisting eliminativism (and I don’t just mean van Inwagen’s loose-talk-and-committed-to-simples version of eliminativism) once you admit that these intuitions are junk.