Explaining identity and distinctness

Philosophical Studies 177 (7):2073-2096 (2020)
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This paper offers a metaphysical explanation of the identity and distinctness of concrete objects. It is tempting to try to distinguish concrete objects on the basis of their possessing different qualitative features, where qualitative features are ones that do not involve identity. Yet, this criterion for object identity faces counterexamples: distinct objects can share all of their qualitative features. This paper suggests that in order to distinguish concrete objects we need to look not only at which properties and relations objects instantiate but also how they instantiate these properties and relations. I propose that objects are identical when they stand in certain qualitative relations in virtue of their existence. And concrete objects are distinct when they do not stand in the same kinds of relations to one another in virtue of their existence.



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Author's Profile

Erica Shumener
Syracuse University

Citations of this work

Identity.Harold Noonan & Benjamin L. Curtis - 2022 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Grounding identity in existence.Ezra Rubenstein - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
Haecceitism.Sam Cowling - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Do identity and distinctness facts threaten the PSR?Erica Shumener - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (4):1023-1041.

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References found in this work

On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
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New work for a theory of universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
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Guide to Ground.Kit Fine - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding. Cambridge University Press. pp. 37--80.

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