Plural Slot Theory

In Karen Bennett & Dean Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Volume 11. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 193-223 (2018)
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Kit Fine (2000) breaks with tradition, arguing that, pace Russell (e.g., 1903: 228), relations have neither directions nor converses. He considers two ways to conceive of these new "neutral" relations, positionalism and anti-positionalism, and argues that the latter should be preferred to the former. Cody Gilmore (2013) argues for a generalization of positionalism, slot theory, the view that a property or relation is n-adic if and only if there are exactly n slots in it, and (very roughly) that each slot may be occupied by at most one entity. Slot theory (and with it, positionalism) bears the full brunt of Fine's (2000) symmetric completions and conflicting adicities problems. I fully develop an alternative, plural slot theory (or pocket theory), which avoids these problems, key elements of which are first considered by Yi (1999: 168 ff.). Like the slot theorist, the pocket theorist posits entities (pockets) in properties and relations that can be occupied. But unlike the slot theorist, the pocket theorist denies that at most one entity can occupy any one of them. As a result, she must also deny that the adicity of a property or relation is equal to the number of occupiable entities in it. By abandoning these theses, however, the pocket theorist is able to avoid Fine's problems, resulting in a stronger theory about the internal structure of properties and relations. Pocket theory also avoids a serious drawback of anti-positionalism.

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Scott Dixon
Lawrence University


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