Two grams mass, three coulombs charge, five inches long – these are examples of quantitative properties. Quantitative properties have certain structural features that other sorts of properties lack. What are the metaphysical underpinnings of quantitative structure? This paper considers several accounts of quantity and assesses the merits of each.
Since the publication of David Lewis's ''New Work for a Theory of Universals,'' the distinction between properties that are fundamental – or perfectly natural – and those that are not has become a staple of mainstream metaphysics. Plausible candidates for perfect naturalness include the quantitative properties posited by fundamental physics. This paper argues for two claims: (1) the most satisfying account of quantitative properties employs higher-order relations, and (2) these relations must be perfectly natural, for otherwise the perfectly natural properties (...) cannot play the roles in metaphysical theorizing as envisaged by Lewis. (shrink)
Several variants of Lewis's Best System Account of Lawhood have been proposed that avoid its commitment to perfectly natural properties. There has been little discussion of the relative merits of these proposals, and little discussion of how one might extend this strategy to provide natural property-free variants of Lewis's other accounts, such as his accounts of duplication, intrinsicality, causation, counterfactuals, and reference. We undertake these projects in this paper. We begin by providing a framework for classifying and assessing the variants (...) of the Best System Account. We then evaluate these proposals, and identify the most promising candidates. We go on to develop a proposal for systematically modifying Lewis's other accounts so that they, too, avoid commitment to perfectly natural properties. We conclude by briefly considering a different route one might take to developing natural property-free versions of Lewis's other accounts, drawing on recent work by Williams. (shrink)
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.
Resemblances obtain not only between objects but between properties. Resemblances of the latter sort - in particular resemblances between quantitative properties - prove to be the downfall of a well-known theory of universals, namely the one presented by David Armstrong. This paper examines Armstrong's efforts to account for such resemblances within the framework of his theory and also explores several extensions of that theory. All of them fail.
The Argument from Temporary Intrinsics is one of the canonical arguments against endurantism. I show that the two standard ways of presenting the argument have limited force. I then present a new version of the argument, which provides a more promising articulation of the underlying objection to endurantism. However, the premises of this argument conflict with the gauge theories of particle physics, and so this version of the argument is no more successful than its predecessors. I conclude that no version (...) of the Argument from Temporary Intrinsics gives us a compelling reason to favor one theory of persistence over another. (shrink)
Is part of a perfectly natural, or fundamental, relation? Philosophers have been hesitant to take a stand on this issue. One reason for this hesitancy is the worry that, if parthood is perfectly natural, then the perfectly natural properties and relations are not suitably “independent” of one another. In this paper, I argue that parthood is a perfectly natural relation. In so doing, I argue that this “independence” worry is unfounded. I conclude by noting some consequences of the naturalness of (...) parthood. (shrink)
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 (...) cannot provide an account of quantity in ''purely intrinsic'' terms. I show, first, that these arguments are confused. Second, I show that Field's treatment of quantity can provide an intrinsic explanation of the structure of quantitative properties; what it cannot do is provide an intrinsic explanation of why certain numerical representations are more appropriate than others. Third, I show that one could provide an intrinsic explanation of this sort if one modified Field's account in certain ways. (shrink)
In "Does Four-Dimensionalism Explain Coincidence" Mark Moyer argues that there is no reason to prefer the four-dimensionalist (or perdurantist) explanation of coincidence to the three-dimensionalist (or endurantist) explanation. I argue that Moyer's formulations of perdurantism and endurantism lead him to overlook the perdurantist's advantage. A more satisfactory formulation of these views reveals a puzzle of coincidence that Moyer does not consider, and the perdurantist's treatment of this puzzle is clearly preferable.
Ever since David Lewis argued for the indispensibility of natural properties, they have become a staple of mainstream metaphysics. This dissertation is a critical examination of natural properties. What roles can natural properties play in metaphysics, and what structure do natural properties have? In the first half of the dissertation, I argue that natural properties cannot do all the work they are advertised to do. In the second half of the dissertation, I look at questions relating to the structure of (...) natural properties. I argue that the metric structure of fundamental quantitative properties cannot be reduced to mereological structure, and I argue that the simplistic picture of natural properties as monadic must be abandoned in light of theories of fundamental physics. (shrink)