On the usefulness of quantities

Synthese 31 (3-4):443 - 457 (1975)
I have argued that there is a philosophical problem posed by a need to determine the reference of expressions which seem to refer to kinds of stuff or matter and to make identity claims about it (e.g., ‘the gold’, ‘the same clay’). Ordinary sortal expressions such as ‘lump’, and ‘piece’ have been shown to be inadequate to the task of providing reference for the expressions in question. What is necessary is an expression which does not have an ordinary sortal use and which meets certain other conditions which I have enumerated. There does not seem to be an expression in ordinary language which fits these conditions. The technical term, ‘quantity’, as defined by Helen Cartwright, meet the conditions. ‘Parcel’, suggested V. C. Chappell, fails to meet the conditions. Another technical term, ‘m-elements’, coined by Laycock, comes close to meeting the conditions, but has a number of difficulties. Mose of these difficulties stem from the fact that counting (rather than measuring, as with quantities) is behind the application of ‘m-elements’, and stuff is as a matter of fact measured, rather than counted, in most situations. I have also considered a possible difficulty with ‘quantity’ (that in most cases in which someone talks of ‘same stuff’ strictly speaking we don't have the same quantity of stuff) and shown it not to be a genuine difficulty
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DOI 10.1007/BF00485213
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