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Volume 51 • Number 3

July 2014



 

 

Natural Properties and Bottomless Determination


by Bence Nanay


The concept of natural properties has played a very important role in contemporary metaphysics. This concept was introduced by David Lewis, who made a distinction between natural and unnatural properties and claimed that this distinction is an objective one: "an adequate theory of properties is one that recognises an objective difference between natural and unnatural properties" (Lewis 1983, p. 347; see also Lewis 1984, 1986). Natural properties are "an élite minority of special properties" (Lewis 1983, p. 346) among the plebs of abundant properties. Every predicate, regardless of how disjunctive or gerrymandered it is, expresses an abundant property. Abundant properties, as Lewis puts it, "carve reality at the joints—and everywhere else as well. If it's distinctions we want, too much structure is no better than none" (Lewis 1983, p. 346). So we need some other, more restricted, concept of properties, which he calls natural (or sparse) properties. Natural properties are the properties "whose sharing makes for resemblance" and also the ones with "relevant causal powers" (Lewis 1983, p. 347).


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ISSN: 2152-1123