The underdetermination of typings

Erkenntnis 58 (3):379 - 414 (2003)
This paper argues that there is no possible structural way of drawing a distinction between objects of different types, such as individuals and properties of different adicities and orders. We show first that purely combinatorial information (information about how objects combine to form states of affairs) is not sufficient for doing this. We show that for any set of such combinatorial data there is always more than one way of typing them – that is, there are always several ways of classifying the different constituents of states of affairs as individuals and properties. Therefore, contrary to received ontological opinion, no object is essentially of any specific type. In the second part we argue that taking into account logical information does not help either, since logic presupposes the very distinction we are trying to draw. Furthermore, this distinction is not even essential for logic, since logic can function perfectly well without it. We conclude that certain distinctions which have been traditionally regarded as ontologically basic (such as that between individuals and properties) cannot be as fundamental as is often supposed.
Keywords Metaphysics  Ontology  Categories  Types  Structuralism
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PhilPapers Archive Jan Westerhoff, The underdetermination of typings
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