Distance and Dissimilarity

Philosophical Papers 48 (2):211-239 (2018)
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This paper considers whether an analogy between distance and dissimilarlity supports the thesis that degree of dissimilarity is distance in a metric space. A straightforward way to justify the thesis would be to define degree of dissimilarity as a function of number of properties in common and not in common. But, infamously, this approach has problems with infinity. An alternative approach would be to prove representation and uniqueness theorems, according to which if comparative dissimilarity meets certain qualitative conditions, then it is representable by distance in a metric space. I will argue that this approach faces equally severe problems with infinity.

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Ben Blumson
National University of Singapore


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