Naturalness in Context

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (4):1-24 (2016)
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According to proponents of one influential account of metaphysical naturalness, properties fall along a spectrum from perfectly natural to highly non-natural. The perfectly natural end of the spectrum is occupied by properties that appear in the laws of nature, account for resemblance and causal powers, and ground other properties, whereas the highly non-natural properties at the spectrum’s other end are not like this at all. However, there is another phenomenon that looks very much like metaphysical naturalness but is context-dependent. I call this phenomenon context-dependent naturalness. In this paper I describe two cases in which inappropriate use is made of metaphysical naturalness and argue that in such cases, the context-dependent importance of certain properties has been confused for the context-independent importance of those properties. I argue that in order to avoid such problems we should embrace context-dependent naturalness.



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Elanor Taylor
Johns Hopkins University

Citations of this work

Realism and the Absence of Value.Shamik Dasgupta - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (3):279-322.
Social Categories in Context.Elanor Taylor - 2020 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (2):171-187.
The Revenge of Moral Twin Earth.Alexios Stamatiadis-Bréhier - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-17.

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References found in this work

New work for a theory of universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
New Work For a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - In D. H. Mellor & Alex Oliver (eds.), Properties. Oxford University Press.
Special sciences.Jerry A. Fodor - 1974 - Synthese 28 (2):97-115.
Naturalness.Cian Dorr & John Hawthorne - 2013 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Volume 8. Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press. pp. 1.

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