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Properties, Powers, and the Subset Account of Realization

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Abstract:

According to the subset account of realization, a property, F, is realized by another property, G, whenever F is individuated by a non‐empty proper subset of the causal powers by which G is individuated (and F is not a conjunctive property of which G is a conjunct). This account is especially attractive because it seems both to explain the way in which realized properties are nothing over and above their realizers, and to provide for the causal efficacy of realized properties. It therefore seems to provide a way around the causal exclusion problem. There is reason to doubt, however, that the subset account can achieve both tasks. The problem arises when we look closely at the relation between properties and causal powers, specifically, at the idea that properties confer powers on the things that have them. If realizers are to be ontically prior to what they realize, then we must regard the conferral of powers by properties as a substantive relation of determination. This relation of conferral is at the heart of a kind of exclusion problem, analogous to the familiar causal exclusion problem. I argue that the subset account cannot adequately answer this new exclusion problem, and is for that reason ill‐suited to be the backbone of a non‐reductive physicalism.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1933-1592.2010.00476.x

Affiliations: University of Nebraska at Omaha

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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