How properties hold together in Substances

In Eric Scerri & Grant Fisher (eds.), Essays in Philosophy of Chemistry. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 199-216 (2016)

Joseph E. Earley
Georgetown University
This article aims to clarify how aspects of current chemical understanding relate to some important contemporary problems of philosophy. The first section points out that the long-running philosophical debates concerning how properties stay together in substances have neglected the important topic of structure-determining closure. The second part describes several chemically-important types of closure and the third part shows how such closures ground the properties of chemical substances. The fourth section introduces current discussions of structural realism (SR) and contextual emergence: the final sections reconsider the coherence of the properties of substances and concludes that recognition that structures qualify as determinants of specific outcomes—as ‘causes’ as that designation is used in Standard English—clarifies how properties stay together in chemical entities, and by analogy, how characteristics cohere in ordinary items.
Keywords properties  closure  causality  Philosophy of Chemistry  structural realism  evolution as determinant  process  emergence  coherence
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