The nomic role account of carving reality at the joints

Synthese 115 (2):171-198 (1998)
Abstract
Natural properties are those that carve reality at the joints. The notion of carving reality at the joints, however, is somewhat obscure. It is sometimes understood in terms of making for similarity, sometimes in terms of conferring causal powers, and sometimes in terms of figuring in the laws of nature. I develop and assess an account of the third sort according to which carving reality at the joints is understood as having the right level of determinacy relative to nomic roles. The account has the attraction of involving only very weak metaphysical presuppositions, but it fails to capture several features that natural properties are presumed to have.
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