Do relations require underlying intrinsic properties? A physical argument for a metaphysics of relations
|Abstract||According to the mainstream of metaphysical thought, the world consists of independent individual things that are embedded in a spatio-temporal framework. These things are individuals, because (a) they have a spatio-temporal location, (b) they are a subject of the predication of properties each and (c) there are some qualitative properties by means of which each of these things is distinguished from all the other ones (at least the spatial-temporal location is such a property). Qualitative properties are all and only those properties whose instantiation does not depend on the existence of any particular individual; properties such as being that individual are hence excluded. These things are independent, because their basic properties are intrinsic ones. Intrinsic are all and only those qualitative properties that a thing has irrespective of whether or not there are other contingent things; all other qualitative properties are extrinsic or relational. That is to say: Having or lacking an intrinsic property is independent of accompaniment or loneliness (see Langton and Lewis (1998) and for a refinement Lewis (2001)). The basic intrinsic properties, as well as the basic relational ones, are not disjunctive; that is to say, properties such as “being round or square” are excluded. This metaphysics can be traced back to Aristotle at least. Aristotle assumes that there is a plurality of individual things (substances) that are characterized by intrinsic properties (forms) each.1 A prominent contemporary formulation is David Lewis’ thesis of Humean supervenience. Lewis writes.|
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