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individuation

lawrence brian lombard


Subject Philosophy » Metaphysics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631199991.1995.x


Extract

Many different, sometimes related, problems have come to be known as ‘problems of individuation’. Perhaps the original and central version of the problem of individuation is this: what is it, if anything, that makes some object the particular object that it is? What makes this so-and-so this so-and-so? The problem may arise in the following way. Consider the quality (a non-relational property) of being blue. Since many things might be blue, what makes this blue thing this blue thing cannot be the fact that it is blue. Now, while many things can be blue, fewer things will be both blue and round; and fewer things, still, will be blue, round, and woollen; and so on. It may thus be asked whether there is a group consisting of some or all of the purely qualitative features of a given thing such that no thing other than it has just those qualities? If so, then what makes this thing this thing is the possession of just those qualities. In that case, a restricted version of the principle of the identity of indiscernibles , cast in terms of qualities, will be true: for any object, x . and any object, y , if, for every quality Q, x has Q if, and only if, y has Q , then x = y . However, while it might be the case that some object, x , is in fact the one and only object that possesses a certain, perhaps complex, quality, it is compatible with this that there could be some ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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