Do Relations Require Underlying Intrinsic Properties? A Physical Argument for a Metaphysics of Relations
Esfeld (Michael)
Source: Metaphysica 4.1 (2003), pp. 5-26
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

    This paper proposes a metaphysics of relations without intrinsic properties on
    which the relations supervene1. The paper starts from the claim that physics can
    only reveal the way in which things are related to each other. Assuming that
    this claim is right, two metaphysical positions remain open: (a) There are intrinsic
    properties, but we cannot know them. (b) All there is to the physical
    things at the basic level is the relations in which they stand. The paper argues
    that purely philosophical considerations cannot decide between these two positions.
    There is, however, a physical argument for the second position available:
    Our current basic physical theory, quantum theory2, supports a metaphysics of
    relations by speaking against intrinsic properties on which the relations in
    question supervene3.

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