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Summary Philosophers (and ordinary folk) draw a distinction between the features that a things has in and of itself and those that it has at least partly in virtue of the way the world is. An egg may have a certain mass and be the first egg that a young hen lays in her life. It has the first property just in virtue of how it is, while the second depends on its relation to other eggs (and the hen). The distinction has played a role in such issues as the nature of moral value, of real change, and of ontological dependence (in particular, supervenience). No single analysis has garnered widespread support; the search for one continues alongside related debates about the notions introduced in various analyses, such as that of a pure natural property and of the grounding relation between properties.
Key works Lewis 1983 is the seminal paper in this area; Langton & Lewis 1998 provides further refinements; and various responses, developments or alternatives are discussed in Vallentyne 1997Humberstone 1996Yablo 1999Denby 2006, Figdor 2008, and Marshall 2009.
Introductions Works in this area tend towards the sophisticated and technical once one goes beyond the initial motivating intuitions. While Lewis 1983 and Langton & Lewis 1998 are indispensable and short, they are highly condensed; Francescotti 1999 is a less condensed discussion of many basic analyses and so can serve as an introductory article to current debates. 
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  1. added 2020-05-18
    What Is the Essence of an Essence? Comparing Afro-Relational and Western-Individualist Ontologies (Repr.).Thaddeus Metz - forthcoming - In Jonathan O. Chimakonam & Monique Whitaker (eds.), Contemporary Language, Logic, and Metaphysics: African and Western Approaches (tentative title).
    Reprint of an article that first appeared in Synthesis Philosophica (2018).
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  2. added 2020-05-18
    What Is the Essence of an Essence? Comparing Afro-Relational and Western-Individualist Ontologies (Repr.).Thaddeus Metz - forthcoming - In Adeshina Afolayan, Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso & Samuel Ojo Oloruntoba (eds.), Pathways to Alternative Epistemologies in Africa. Springer.
    Reprint of an article that first appeared in the journal Synthesis Philosophica (2018).
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  3. added 2019-09-09
    Intrinsic Properties and Combinatorial Principles.Brian Weatherson - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (2):365-380.
    Three objections have recently been levelled at the analysis of intrinsicness offered by Rae Langton and David Lewis. While these objections do seem telling against the particular theory Langton and Lewis offer, they do not threaten the broader strategy Langton and Lewis adopt: defining intrinsicness in terms of combinatorial features of properties. I show how to amend their theory to overcome the objections without abandoning the strategy.
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  4. added 2019-06-06
    Intrinsicality and the Conditional.R. E. Jennings - 1986 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16 (2):221-238.
    In [3] I argued for a particular kind of semantics for subjunctive conditionals. The arguments were based upon some linguistic considerations of the general character of what we mean when we say such and such. I urged that a semantics for subjunctive conditionals ought to provide a distinct representation of the subjunctive mood of a sentence, and should take seriously the fact that subjunctive conditionals admit distinctions of tense. The envisaged semantics took the subjunctive conditional to be about occasions, and (...)
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  5. added 2018-12-31
    Partial Resemblance and Property Immanence.Paul Audi - 2019 - Noûs 53 (4):884-903.
  6. added 2018-10-10
    Maximality, Duplication, and Intrinsic Value.Sean Drysdale Walsh - 2011 - Ratio 24 (3):311-325.
    In this paper, I develop an argument for the thesis that ‘maximality is extrinsic’, on which a whole physical object is not a whole of its kind in virtue of its intrinsic properties. Theodore Sider has a number of arguments that depend on his own simple argument that maximality is extrinsic. However, Peter van Inwagen has an argument in defence of his Duplication Principle that, I will argue, can be extended to show that Sider's simple argument fails. However, van Inwagen's (...)
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  7. added 2018-09-07
    Intrinsic and Extrinsic Properties: A Reply to Hoffmann-Kolss: Discussions.David A. Denby - 2010 - Mind 119 (475):773-782.
    In response to Hoffmann-Kolss, I modify my account of the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties previously published in this journal. I also strengthen the reason I gave to think my account pins down the distinction uniquely.
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  8. added 2018-09-04
    Intrinsic Properties and Relations.Jan Plate - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (8):783-853.
    This paper provides an analysis of the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction, as applied both to properties and to relations. In contrast to other accounts, the approach taken here locates the source of a property’s intrinsicality or extrinsicality in the manner in which that property is ‘logically constituted’, and thus – plausibly – in its nature or essence, rather than in e.g. its modal profile. Another respect in which the present proposal differs from many extant analyses lies in the fact that it does (...)
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  9. added 2018-03-19
    Why Intrinsicness Should Be Defined in a Non-Reductive Way.Vera Hoffmann-Kolss - forthcoming - New Content is Available for Grazer Philosophische Studien.
    Defining the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties has turned out to be one of the most difficult and controversial tasks in contemporary metaphysics. It is generally assumed that a definition of intrinsicness should aim to avoid as many counterexamples as possible and reduce the notion to less controversial philosophical notions. In this paper, the author argues for a new methodological approach to defining intrinsicness. Rather than trying to cover as many intuitive examples as possible, a definition of intrinsicness should (...)
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  10. added 2018-03-15
    Intrinsicality and Counterpart Theory.Michael De - 2016 - Synthese 193 (8).
    It is shown that counterpart theory and the duplication account of intrinsicality —two key pieces of the Lewisian package—are incompatible. In particular, the duplication account yields the result that certain intuitively extrinsic modal properties are intrinsic. Along the way I consider a potentially more general worry concerning certain existential closures of internal relations. One conclusion is that, unless the Lewisian provides an adequate alternative to the duplication account, the reductive nature of their total theory is in jeopardy.
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  11. added 2018-03-05
    Intrinsic Vs. Extrinsic Properties.Dan Marshall & Brian Weatherson - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    We have some of our properties purely in virtue of the way we are. (Our mass is an example.) We have other properties in virtue of the way we interact with the world. (Our weight is an example.) The former are the intrinsic properties, the latter are the extrinsic properties. This seems to be an intuitive enough distinction to grasp, and hence the intuitive distinction has made its way into many discussions in philosophy, including discussions in ethics, philosophy of mind, (...)
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  12. added 2018-02-17
    Beyond Intrinsicness and Dazzling Blacks.Erik Myin - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (6):964-965.
    Palmer's target article is surely one of the most scientifically detailed and knowledgeable treatments of spectrum inversion ever. Unfortunately, it is built on a very shaky philosophical foundation, the notion of the "intrinsic". In the article's ontology, there are two kinds of properties of mental states, intrinsic properties and relational properties. The whole point of the article is that these aspects of experience are mutually exclusive: the intrinsic is nonrelational and the relational is nonintrinsic.
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  13. added 2017-11-27
    A ‘Mere Cambridge’ Test to Demarcate Extrinsic From Intrinsic Properties.Roger Harris - 2018 - Acta Analytica 33 (2):199-225.
    I argue that a ‘mere Cambridge’ test can yield a mutually exclusive, jointly exhaustive, partition of properties between the intrinsic and the extrinsic. Unlike its rivals, this account can be extended to partition 2nd- and higher-order properties of properties. A property F is intrinsic, I claim, iff the same relation of resemblance holds between all and only possible instances of F. By contrast, each possible bearer of an extrinsic property has a determinate relation to some independently contingent concrete object. Such (...)
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  14. added 2017-09-15
    Why Intrinsicness Should Be Defined in a Non-Reductive Way.Vera Hoffmann-Kolss - 2018 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 95 (1):1-14.
    Defining the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties has turned out to be one of the most difficult and controversial tasks in contemporary metaphysics. It is generally assumed that a definition of intrinsicness should aim to avoid as many counterexamples as possible and reduce the notion to less controversial philosophical notions. In this paper, the author argues for a new methodological approach to defining intrinsicness. Rather than trying to cover as many intuitive examples as possible, a definition of intrinsicness should (...)
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  15. added 2017-05-27
    Against Extrinsic Dispositions.Seungbae Park - 2017 - Review of Contemporary Philosophy 16:92-103.
    McKitrick (2003) proposes that an object has a disposition if and only if there are a manifestation, the circumstances of the manifestation, a counterfactual true of the object, and an overtly dispositional locution referring to the disposition. A disposition is extrinsic if and only if an object has it, but a perfect duplicate of the object might not have it. I present an alternative definition that an object has a disposition if and only if a counterfactual is true of the (...)
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  16. added 2017-04-05
    An Insubstantial Externalism.Axel Arturo Barcelo Aspeitia - 2011 - Journal of Philosophy 108 (10):576-582.
    Alvin I. Goldman has argued that since one must count epistemic rules among the factors that help to fix the justificational status of agents (generally called J-factors), not all J-factors are internalist, that is, intrinsic to the agent whose justificational status they help to fix. After all, for an epistemic rule to count as a genuine J-factor, it must be objectively correct and, therefore, “independent of any and all minds.” Consequently, it cannot be intrinsic to any particular epistemic agent. In (...)
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  17. added 2017-01-28
    Intrinsic, Hence Real; Extrinsic, Hence Unreal? The Modal and Sortal Properties of Continuants: Intrinzično, Dakle Stvarno; Ekstrinzično, Dakle Nestvarno? Modalna I Sortalna Svojstva Kontinuanata.Márta Ujvári - 2011 - Prolegomena 10 (1):53-66.
    Eliminativist metaphysicians have recently explored various arguments, including those about over-determination, colocation, the problem of the Many and ontological parsimony, for dispensing with kinds and their token continuants. Further, David Lewis’s missing “real temporary intrinsics” has paved the way to treating the sortal and the modal properties yielding the persistence conditions of continuants as unreal because they are extrinsic. In this paper I show, first, that none of the arguments mentioned above are decisive against the disputed entities. Second, I argue (...)
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  18. added 2017-01-18
    Extrinsic and Intrinsic Irreversibility in Probabilistic Dynamical Laws.Harald Atmanspacher - manuscript
    Two distinct conceptions for the relation between reversible, time-reversal invariant laws of nature and the irreversible behavior of physical systems are outlined. The standard, extrinsic concept of irreversibility is based on the notion of an open system interacting with its environment. An alternative, intrinsic concept of irreversibility does not explicitly refer to any environment at all. Basic aspects of the two concepts are presented and compared with each other. The significance of the terms extrinsic and intrinsic is discussed.
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  19. added 2017-01-16
    The Formation of Extrinsic-Intrinsic Faulting.P. C. J. Gallagher & J. Washburn - 1967 - Philosophical Magazine 15 (137):969-975.
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  20. added 2017-01-16
    Intrinsic and Extrinsic Nodes in a Gold-Tin Alloy.M. H. Loretto - 1964 - Philosophical Magazine 10 (105):467-475.
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  21. added 2017-01-16
    On Thought: The Extrinsic Theory.Eugene Galanter & Murray Gerstenhaber - 1956 - Psychological Review 63 (4):218-227.
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  22. added 2017-01-15
    Natural Individuals and Intrinsic Properties.Godehard Brüntrup - 2009 - In Ludger Honnefelder, Edmund Runggaldier & Benedikt Schick (eds.), Unity and Time in Metaphysics. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 237-252.
    In the world there are concrete particulars that exhibit the kind of substantial unity that allows them to be called substances or “natural individuals”, as opposed to artifacts or mere conglomerates. Persons, animals, and possibly the most fundamental physical simples are all natural individuals. What gives these entities the ontological status of a substantial unity? Arguments from the philosophy of mind and arguments from general metaphysics show that physical properties alone cannot account for substantial unity. The ultimate intrinsic properties of (...)
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  23. added 2016-09-23
    Intrinsische und extrinsische Eigenschaften.Vera Hoffmann-Kolss - forthcoming - In Markus Schrenk (ed.), Handbuch Metaphysik. J.B. Metzler.
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  24. added 2016-08-31
    The Asymmetric Magnets Problem.Brian Weatherson - 2006 - Philosophical Perspectives 20 (1):479–492.
    There are many controversial theses about intrinsicness and duplication. The first aim of this paper is to introduce a puzzle that shows that two of the uncontroversial sounding ones can’t both be true. The second aim is to suggest that the best way out of the puzzle requires sharpening some distinctions that are too frequently blurred, and adopting a fairly radical reconception of the ways things are.
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  25. added 2016-07-12
    How to Fix Directions Or Are Assignments of Vector Characteristics Attributions of Intrinsic Properties?Claus Beisbart - 2009 - Dialectica 63 (4):503-524.
    In physics, objects are often assigned vector characteristics such as a specific velocity. How can this be understood from a metaphysical point of view – is assigning an object a vector characteristic to attribute it an intrinsic property? As a short review of Newtonian, special relativistic and general relativistic physics shows, if we wish to assign some object a vector characteristic, we have to relate it to something – call it S. If S is to be different from the original (...)
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  26. added 2016-07-12
    Property Identity and ‘Intrinsic’ Designation.D. Goldstick - 1997 - Philosophy 72 (281):449.
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  27. added 2016-03-16
    A Note on Shapes.Jan Almäng - 2015 - Journal of Philosophical Research 40:469-471.
    It has recently been argued that the Special Theory of Relativity entails that shapes are not intrinsic properties of objects. Rather, they are properties an object has only relative to an inertial frame. In this discussion note I argue that this position, while correct, is incomplete. Objects have frame-dependent shapes because they have an intrinsic property that is the same in all inertial frames.
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  28. added 2016-03-10
    A Simple Theory of Intrinsicality.D. Gene Witmer - 2014 - In Robert M. Francescotti (ed.), Companion to Intrinsic Properties. De Gruyter. pp. 111-138.
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  29. added 2015-10-19
    The Making of an Intrinsic Property: “Symmetry Heuristics” in Early Particle Physics.Arianna Borrelli - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 50:59-70.
  30. added 2015-10-19
    On a Sufficient Condition for Hyperintensionality.Vera Hoffmann-Kolss - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (260):336-354.
    Let an X/Y distinction be a distinction between kinds of properties, such as the distinctions between qualitative and non-qualitative, intrinsic and extrinsic, perfectly natural and less-than-perfectly natural or dispositional and categorical properties. An X/Y distinction is hyperintensional iff there are cointensional properties P and Q, such that P is an X-property, whereas Q is a Y-property. Many accounts of metaphysical distinctions among properties presuppose that such distinctions are non-hyperintensional. In this paper, I call this presupposition into question. I develop a (...)
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  31. added 2015-10-19
    Physics and Intrinsic Properties.Michael Esfeld - 2013 - In Robert M. Francescotti (ed.), Companion to Intrinsic Properties. De Gruyter. pp. 253-270.
    The paper sketches out an ontology of physics in terms of matter being primitive stuff distributed in space and all the properties physics is committed to being dispositions that fix the temporal development of the distribution of matter in space. Whereas such properties can be conceived as intrinsic properties of particles in classical mechanics, in quantum physics, there is a holistic property or structure that relates all matter and that fixes its temporal development.
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  32. added 2015-09-08
    Esistono Proprieta Intrinseche?Andrea Borghini - 2010 - Rivista di Estetica 43:231-245.
    In this paper I raise a number of objections to the claim that there are intrinsic properties. I first show that, by functioning as realizers of all other properties, intrinsic properties ground one of the most popular methods for counting individuals. I, then, introduce the five main definitions of intrinsicness (all appealing to a certain form of independency). Hence, I question the claim that there are intrinsic properties on two grounds: first by raising three objections to the thesis that we (...)
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  33. added 2015-04-06
    Identity and Extrinsicness: Reply to Garrett.Penelope Mackie - 1989 - Mind 98 (389):105-117.
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  34. added 2015-04-05
    An Analysis of Intrinsicality.Dan Marshall - 2016 - Noûs 50 (4):704-739.
    The leading account of intrinsicality over the last thirty years has arguably been David Lewis's account in terms of perfect naturalness. Lewis's account, however, has three serious problems: i) it cannot allow necessarily coextensive properties to differ in whether they are intrinsic; ii) it falsely classifies non-qualitative properties like being Obama as non-intrinsic; and iii) it is incompatible with a number of metaphysical theories that posit irreducibly non-categorical properties. I argue that, as a result of these problems, Lewis's account should (...)
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  35. added 2015-03-25
    Towards a Hyperintensional Theory of Intrinsicality.Ralf M. Bader - 2013 - Journal of Philosophy 110 (10):525-563.
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  36. added 2015-03-24
    The Varieties of Intrinsicality.Dan Marshall - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (2):237-263.
    Intrinsicality is a central notion in metaphysics that can do important work in many areas of philosophy. It is not widely appreciated, however, that there are in fact a number of different notions of intrinsicality, and that these different notions differ in what work they can do. This paper discusses what these notions are, describes how they are related to each other, and argues that each of them can be analysed in terms of a single notion of intrinsic aboutness that (...)
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  37. added 2015-03-23
    Word Coding: The Role of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Features.Douglas L. Nelson - 1973 - Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 1 (4):241-243.
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  38. added 2015-03-20
    Companion to Intrinsic Properties.Robert M. Francescotti (ed.) - 2014 - De Gruyter.
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  39. added 2015-03-09
    A Revision of David Lewis's "Golden Card": The Classification of Relations Via a New Intrinsic/Extrinsic Property Distinction.Leslie Elizabeth Stapp - 1997 - Dissertation, University of California, Davis
    In On the Plurality of Worlds, David Lewis introduces a distinction between "internal", "external", and "extrinsic" relations. This distinction is informally known as the "Golden Card". According to the Golden Card, in order to classify a relation we must answer two questions: Does the relation supervene on intrinsic or extrinsic properties? and Are the properties on which the relation supervenes each instantiated by individual relata standing in the relation, or are they instantiated by these relata taken together as a "composite"? (...)
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  40. added 2014-12-09
    Intrinsic/Extrinsic: A Relational Account Defended.Robert Francescotti - 2014 - In Companion to Intrinsic Properties. De Gruyter. pp. 175-198.
    In "How to Define Intrinsic Properties" I offered a relational account of the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction. The basic idea is that F is an intrinsic property of an item x just in case x’s having F consists entirely in x’s having certain internal properties, where an internal property is one whose instantiation does not consist in one’s relation to any distinct items (items other than oneself and one’s proper parts). I still think that this relational analysis is largely correct, and here (...)
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  41. added 2014-11-03
    Essence and Intrinsicality.David A. Denby - 2014 - In Robert Francescotti (ed.), Companion to Intrinsic Properties. De Gruyter. pp. 87-109.
    In the first half of this paper, I argue that essential properties are intrinsic and that this permits a modal analysis of essence that is immune the sort of objections raised by Fine. In the second half, I argue that intrinsic properties collectively have a certain structure and that this accounts for some observations about essences: that things are essentially determinate; that things often have properties within a certain range essentially; and that the essential properties of things are their core (...)
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  42. added 2014-08-07
    Intrinsic Explanations and Numerical Representations.M. Eddon - 2014 - In Francescotti (ed.), Companion to Intrinsic Properties. De Gruyter. pp. 271-290.
    In Science Without Numbers (1980), Hartry Field defends a theory of quantity that, he claims, is able to provide both i) an intrinsic explanation of the structure of space, spacetime, and other quantitative properties, and ii) an intrinsic explanation of why certain numerical representations of quantities (distances, lengths, mass, temperature, etc.) are appropriate or acceptable while others are not. But several philosophers have argued otherwise. In this paper I focus on arguments from Ellis and Milne to the effect that one (...)
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  43. added 2014-07-28
    Is the Intrinsic/Extrinsic Distinction Hyperintensional?Vera Hoffmann-Kolss - 2014 - In Robert Francescotti (ed.), Companion to Intrinsic Properties. de Gruyter. pp. 157-173.
    Several authors have recently claimed that the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties is hyperintensional, i.e., that there are cointensional properties P and Q, such that P is intrinsic, while Q is extrinsic. In this paper, I aim to defend the classical view that whenever P and Q are cointensional properties, then P and Q are either both intrinsic or both extrinsic. I first argue that the standard characterization of the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction involves dependence claims: intrinsic properties are those properties (...)
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  44. added 2014-04-03
    Relevant Predication 2: Intrinsic Properties and Internal Relations.J. Michael Dunn - 1990 - Philosophical Studies 60 (3):177-206.
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  45. added 2014-04-02
    Intrinsicality and Grounding.Daniel Graham Marshall - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1):1-19.
    A number of philosophers have recently claimed that intrinsicality can be analysed in terms of the metaphysical notion of grounding. Since grounding is a hyperintensional notion, accounts of intrinsicality in terms of grounding, unlike most other accounts, promise to be able to discriminate between necessarily coextensive properties that differ in whether they are intrinsic. They therefore promise to be compatible with popular metaphysical theories that posit necessary entities and necessary connections between wholly distinct entities, on which it is plausible that (...)
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  46. added 2014-03-30
    Defining 'Intrinsic'.Rae Langton & David Lewis - 1998 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (2):333-345.
    Something could be round even if it were the only thing in the universe, unaccompanied by anything distinct from itself. Jaegwon Kim once suggested that we define an intrinsic property as one that can belong to something unaccompanied. Wrong: unaccompaniment itself is not intrinsic, yet it can belong to something unaccompanied. But there is a better Kim-style definition. Say that P is independent of accompaniment iff four different cases are possible: something accompanied may have P or lack P, something unaccompanied (...)
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  47. added 2014-03-29
    Intrinsic/Extrinsic.I. L. Humberstone - 1996 - Synthese 108 (2):205-267.
    Several intrinsic/extrinsic distinctions amongst properties, current in the literature, are discussed and contrasted. The proponents of such distinctions tend to present them as competing, but it is suggested here that at least three of the relevant distinctions (including here that between non-relational and relational properties) arise out of separate perfectly legitimate intuitive considerations: though of course different proposed explications of the informal distinctions involved in any one case may well conflict. Special attention is paid to the question of whether a (...)
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  48. added 2014-03-27
    Cambridge Changes of Color.Michael Jacovides - 2000 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (2):142-164.
    Locke’s porphyry argument at 2.8.19 of the Essay has not been properly appreciated. On my reconstruction, Locke argues from the premise that porphyry undergoes a mere Cambridge change of color in different lighting conditions to the conclusion that porphyry’s colors do not belong to it as it is in itself. I argue that his argument is not quite sound, but it would be if Locke chose a different stone, alexandrite. Examining his argument teaches us something about the relation between explanatory (...)
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  49. added 2014-03-26
    Intrinsic Properties and Natural Relations.John Hawthorne - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (2):399-403.
    Assuming that we find the concept of naturalness coherent, we shall no doubt wish to allow that certain relations count as highly natural. Many of us will think that various spatio-temporal and causal relations—is the cause of, is spatially separated from, is later than—are highly natural. Some of us will think that various basic semantic and mentalistic relations—refers to, attends to, believes.…--- are highly natural. Some will think that various logico-mathematical relations—being the successor of, being identical to…—are highly natural.
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  50. added 2014-03-26
    Maximality and Intrinsic Properties.Theodore Sider - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (2):357 - 364.
    A property, F, is maximal iff, roughly, large parts of an F are not themselves Fs.' Maximality makes trouble for a recent analysis of intrinsicality by Rae Langton and David Lewis.
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