Dissertation, University of Geneva (2007)

Philipp Blum
University of Geneva
In the first part, I consider different notions of determination, contrast and compare modal with non-modal accounts and then defend two a-modality theses concerning essence and supervenience. I argue, first, that essence is a a-modal notion, i.e. not usefully analysed in terms of metaphysical modality, and then, contra Kit Fine, that essential properties can be exemplified contingently. I argue, second, that supervenience is also an a-modal notion, and that it should be analysed in terms of constitution relations between properties. In the second part, I first review the literature on ontological commitment, and argue that the notion of truthmaking is better suited to play its explanatory rôle. I then argue that we should take truthmaker theory seriously, and that we should provide actual truthmakers for all truths there are. In the last chapter of this part, I review Armstrong's truthmaker theories and argue that they are unsatisfactory. I generalise my criticism to an argument against truthmaker necessitarianism, the view that truthmakers necessarily make true the truths they are truthmakers of. In the third part "), I discuss qualitative determination. I present and endorse the truthmaker argument for universals, and defend universalism against friends of tropes, states of affairs and facts. I then give a novel characterisation of the important class of intrinsic properties, building on Lewis' work. With a workable notion of intrinsicness at hand, I argue that relations are ontologically – but not "ideologically" – dispensable: qualitative determination in general is a matter of intrinsic structure. In the future, I plan to add two parts and to publish my thesis as a book: In the fourth part, I argue for the existence of an exemplification relation tying universals and particulars together. I derive theoretical benefits from this relation by providing adverbialist theories of modality and tense and identify exemplification with a type of parthood. In the fifth part, I investigate the curious and interesting ontological category of so-called "qua-objects" and argue that they exist, are not identical with transworld indidivuals or modal parts and that they provide truthmakers for all true predications.
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Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Wiley-Blackwell.
Counterfactuals.David Kellogg Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.

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