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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 13, Issue 2, Spring 2009

Artefacts in Analytic Metaphysics

Massimiliano Carrara
Pages 108-122

Relative Identity and the Number of Artifacts

Relativists maintain that identity is always relative to a general term (RI). According to them, the notion of absolute identity has to be abandoned and replaced by a multiplicity of relative identity relations for which Leibniz’s Law does not hold. For relativists RI is at least as good as the Fregean cardinality thesis (FC), which contends that an ascription of cardinality is always relative to a concept specifying what, in any specific case, counts as a unit. The same train of thought on cardinality and identity is apparent among those – Artifactualists – who take relative identity sentences for artifacts as the norm. The aim of this paper is (i) to criticize the thesis (T1) that from FC it is possible to derive RI, and (ii) to explain why Artifactualists mistakenly believe that RI can be derived from FC. The misunderstanding derives from their assumption that the concept of artifact – like the concept of object – is not a sortal concept.

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