The Monist

Volume 94, Issue 1, January 2011


Sydney Shoemaker
Pages 3-18

Realization, Powers, and Property Identity

This paper is about the relation between two metaphysical topics: the nature of properties, and way the instantiation of a property is sometimes “realized in” something more fundamental. It is partly an attempt to develop further, but also to correct, my earlier treatments of these topics. In my published work on realization, including my book Physical Realization, I was at pains to insist that acceptance of my view about this does not commit one to the causal theory of properties I have defended in several places. I held that it commits one to the claim that within any given world, properties with the same causal profile are identical, but not to the requirement that a property must have the same causal profile in any world in which it can be instantiated. I now think that this was a mistake. There is an argument from the account of realization I have offered to the conclusion that, if physicalism is true, properties of macroscopic objects have their causal profiles essentially. In what follows I will present that argument.Along the way I will correct what now seem to me mistakes in my earlier presentations of the account of realization. And I will conclude with an additional argument for the causal theory of properties, one that does not tie it to the assumption that physicalism is true or to my account of realization.

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