Fundamental determinables

Philosophers' Imprint 12 (4) (2012)
Contemporary philosophers commonly suppose that any fundamental entities there may be are maximally determinate. More generally, they commonly suppose that, whether or not there are fundamental entities, any determinable entities there may be are grounded in, hence less fundamental than, more determinate entities. So, for example, Armstrong takes the physical objects constituting the presumed fundamental base to be “determinate in all respects” (1961, 59), and Lewis takes the properties characterizing things “completely and without redundancy” to be “highly specific” (1986, 60). Here I look at the usually cited reasons for these suppositions as directed against the case of determinable properties, in particular, and argue that none is compelling (Sections 1 to 3). The discussion in Section 3 moreover identifies positive reason for taking some determinable properties to be part of a fundamental (or relatively fundamental) base. I close (Section 4) by noting certain questions arising from the possibility of fundamental determinables, as directions for future research.
Keywords metaphysics  fundamentality  determinable/determinate relation
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