Total Pageviews

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Relations with non-existent relata

Manuel and me are about to finish a first presentable draft of our paper against Schaffer's argument that the internal relatedness of all things lead to priority monism (see past entries for details). We were just helping ourselves to the idea that when there is a dispositional link between a thing and a type - through Molnar's or C.B. Martin's physical intentionality - there is a relation (an internal one, for that matter). But then it dawned on us that we cannot safely use the word relation because most people (for Russellian reasons) take that there cannot be relations with non-existent relata and this is what physical intentionality could imply.

I was thinking that a word like "relation" cannot be hijacked by a philosophical tradition like that. This is where we sense the strength of the Russellian consensus: there are non-existent relata so the word "relation" cannot be used when the relata may not exist. This is also a consequence of the very peculiar status of the Plato's beard problem, it is not about different conceptions of relations (or objects etc), it is about whether the word can be appropriately applied.

In any case, we decided to shy away from the word and use something else instead...


  1. Hi Hilan,

    I'd be keen to read the full paper when it's done even though I'll likely be unfamiliar with many of the references. I'm very curious where the two of you are going with these issues of relatedness as it's a very interesting topic.

    Hopefully see you again soon.


  2. oli, paper is submitted, it is in philpapers:
    will post in the blog too soon