About this topic
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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Towards a Hyperintensional Theory of Intrinsicality.Ralf M. Bader - 2013 - Journal of Philosophy 110 (10):525-563.
  4. Review of Vera Hoffmann-Kolss, The Metaphysics of Extrinsic Properties[REVIEW]Ralf M. Bader - 2010 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (10).
  5. 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 (...)
  6. 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 (...)
  7. 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 (...)
  8. 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.
  9. 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 (...)
  10. Intrinsic and Extrinsic Properties.Ross Cameron - 2009 - In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge.
    Consider two of my properties: my mass and my weight. There seems to be an interesting distinction between the reasons for my having these two properties. I have my mass solely in virtue of how I am, whereas I have my weight in virtue of both how I am and how my surroundings are. I have my weight as a result of the gravitational pull exerted by the Earth on a thing having my mass, whereas I have my mass independently (...)
  11. Recombination and Intrinsicality.Ross P. Cameron - 2008 - Ratio 21 (1):1–12.
    In this paper I argue that warrant for Lewis ' principle of recombination presupposes warrant for a combinatorial analysis of intrinsicality, which in turn presupposes warrant for the principle of recombination. This, I claim, leads to a vicious circularity: warrant for neither doctrine can get off the ground.
  12. 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.
  13. 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 (...)
  14. Intrinsic and Extrinsic Properties: A Reply to Hoffmann-Kolss.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.
  15. The Distinction Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Properties.David A. Denby - 2006 - Mind 115 (457):1-17.
    I propose an analysis of the metaphysically important distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties, and, in the process, provide a neglected model for the analysis of recalcitrant distinctions generally. First, I recap some difficulties with Kim's well-known (1982) proposal and its recent descendants. Then I define two independence relations among properties and state a ‘quasi-logical’ analysis of the distinction in terms of them. Unusually, my proposal is holistic, but I argue that it is in a certain kind of equilibrium and (...)
  16. Relevant Predication 2: Intrinsic Properties and Internal Relations.J. Michael Dunn - 1990 - Philosophical Studies 60 (3):177-206.
  17. 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 (...)
  18. Intrinsicality and Hyperintensionality.M. Eddon - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (2):314-336.
    The standard counterexamples to David Lewis’s account of intrinsicality involve two sorts of properties: identity properties and necessary properties. Proponents of the account have attempted to deflect these counterexamples in a number of ways. This paper argues that none of these moves are legitimate. Furthermore, this paper argues that no account along the lines of Lewis’s can succeed, for an adequate account of intrinsicality must be sensitive to hyperintensional distinctions among properties.
  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.
  20. What's the Use of an Intrinsic Property?Carrie Figdor - 2014 - In Robert Francescotti (ed.), Companion to Intrinsic Properties. De Gruyter. pp. 139-156.
    Work on the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction is often motivated by its use in other areas, such as intrinsic value, real vs. Cambridge change, supervenience and other topics. With the exception of Figdor 2008, philosophers have sought to articulate a global distinction -- a distinction between kinds of properties, rather than ways in which individuals have properties. I argue that global I/E distinctions are unable to do the work that allegedly motivates them, focusing on the case of intrinsic value.
  21. Intrinsically/Extrinsically.Carrie Figdor - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy 105 (11):691-718.
    I separate two intrinsic/extrinsic distinctions that are often conflated: one between properties (the intrinsic/extrinsic, or I/E, distinction) and one between the ways in which properties are had by individuals (the intrinsically/extrinsically, or I-ly/E-ly, distinction). I propose an analysis of the I-ly/E-ly distinction and its relation to the I/E distinction that explains, inter alia, the puzzle of cross-classification: how it can be, for example, that the property of being square can be classified as an intrinsic property and yet individuals can be (...)
  22. 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 (...)
  23. Companion to Intrinsic Properties.Robert Francescotti (ed.) - 2014 - De Gruyter.
  24. Understanding the Intrinsic/Extrinsic Distinction.Robert Francescotti - 2012 - Metascience 21 (1):91-94.
    Understanding the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9549-x Authors Robert Francescotti, Department of Philosophy, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-6044, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
  25. Mere Cambridge Properties.Robert Francescotti - 1999 - American Philosophical Quarterly 36 (4):295-308.
    The predicates 'is outgrown by Theaetetus,' 'is 300 miles west of a lemur,' and 'is such that 9 is odd' denote properties, but there is a sense in which these properties are not genuine features of the objects that have them. The fact that we find these mere-Cambridge properties odd has something to do with their relational character. But relationality in itself is not an adequate criterion for property-genuineness for there are many relational properties that do not qualify as mere-Cambridge. (...)
  26. How to Define Intrinsic Properties.Robert Francescotti - 1999 - Noûs 33 (4):590-609.
    An intrinsic property, according to one important account, is a property that is had by all of one's duplicates. Instead, one might choose to characterize intrinsic properties as those that can be had in the absence of all distinct individuals. After reviewing the problems with these earlier accounts, the author presents a less problematic analysis. The goal is to clarify the rough idea that an intrinsic property is a special sort of non-relational property; having the property does not consist in (...)
  27. On Thought: The Extrinsic Theory.Eugene Galanter & Murray Gerstenhaber - 1956 - Psychological Review 63 (4):218-227.
  28. The Formation of Extrinsic-Intrinsic Faulting.P. C. J. Gallagher & J. Washburn - 1967 - Philosophical Magazine 15 (137):969-975.
  29. Property Identity and ‘Intrinsic’ Designation.D. Goldstick - 1997 - Philosophy 72 (281):449.
  30. 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 (...)
  31. How to Define Extrinsic Properties.Roger Harris - 2010 - Axiomathes 20 (4):461-478.
    There are, broadly, three sorts of account of intrinsicality: ‘self-sufficiency’, ‘essentiality’ and ‘pure qualitativeness’. I argue for the last of these, and urge that we take intrinsic properties of concrete objects to be all and only those shared by actual or possible duplicates, which only differ extrinsically. This approach gains support from Francescotti’s approach: defining ‘intrinsic’ in contradistinction to extrinsic properties which ‘consist in’ relations which rule out intrinsicality. I answer Weatherson’s criticisms of Francescotti, but, to answer criticisms of my (...)
  32. Do Material Things Have Intrinsic Properties?Roger Harris - 2010 - Metaphysica 11 (2):105-117.
    Possession of any actual physical property depends on the ambient conditions for its bearers, irrespective of one's particular theory of dispositions. If 'self-sufficiency' makes a property intrinsic, then, because of this dependence, things in the actual world cannot have an intrinsic physical resemblance to one another or to things in other possible worlds. Criteria for the self-sufficiency of intrinsic properties based on, or implying indifference to both 'loneliness' and 'accompaniment' entail that no self-sufficient property can require its bearers to be (...)
  33. Intrinsic Properties and Natural Relations.John Hawthorne - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (2):399-403.
  34. Denby on the Distinction Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Properties.V. Hoffmann-Kolss - 2010 - Mind 119 (475):763-772.
    In this paper, I raise an objection to the criterion of the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction proposed by David Denby in his article ‘The Distinction between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Properties’ (2006). I show that the extrinsic property of being either red and lonely or green cannot adequately be accounted for by Denby’s criterion and argue that this difficulty points to a general problem inherent to Denby’s account.
  35. Intrinsische und extrinsische Eigenschaften.Vera Hoffmann-Kolss - forthcoming - In Markus Schrenk (ed.), Handbuch Metaphysik. J.B. Metzler.
  36. 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 (...)
  37. 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 (...)
  38. 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 (...)
  39. 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 (...)
  40. The Metaphysics of Extrinsic Properties.Vera Hoffmann-Kolss - 2010 - Ontos-Verlag.
    This book aims to develop a philosophical theory of extrinsic properties – of properties whose instantiation by an object does not only depend on what the object itself is like, but also on features of its environment. Various accounts of the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction are analysed in detail, and it is argued that the most promising approach to defining this distinction is to consider extrinsic properties as a particular type of relational property. Moreover, it is shown that two key notions in (...)
  41. 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 (...)
  42. 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 (...)
  43. Intrinsicality and the Conditional.R. E. Jennings - 1986 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16 (2):221 - 238.
  44. The Relative Energies of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Stacking Faults and the Influence of the Suzuki Effect Thereon.Doris Kuiilmann-Wilsdorf - 1965 - Philosophical Magazine 11 (111):633-636.
  45. 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 (...)
  46. Redefining 'Intrinsic'.David Lewis - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (2):381-398.
    Several alleged counterexamples to the definition of ‘intrinsic’ proposed in Rae Langton and David Lewis, ‘Defining “Intrinsic”’, are unconvincing. Yet there are reasons for dissatisfaction, and room for improvement. One desirable change is to raise the standard of non-disjunctiveness, thereby putting less burden on contentious judgements of comparative naturalness. A second is to deal with spurious independence by throwing out just the disjunctive troublemakers, instead of throwing out disjunctive properties wholesale, and afterward reinstating those impeccably intrinsic disjunctive properties that are (...)
  47. Extrinsic Properties.David Lewis - 1983 - Philosophical Studies 44 (2):197-200.
  48. Comment définir « intrinsèque ».David Lewis & Rae Langton - 2002 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 4 (4):511-527.
  49. Intrinsic and Extrinsic Nodes in a Gold-Tin Alloy.M. H. Loretto - 1964 - Philosophical Magazine 10 (105):467-475.
  50. Identity and Extrinsicness: Reply to Garrett.Penelope Mackie - 1989 - Mind 98 (389):105-117.
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