Intrinsic Explanations and Numerical Representations

In Robert M. Francescotti (ed.), Companion to Intrinsic Properties. De Gruyter. pp. 271-290 (2014)
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Abstract
In Science Without Numbers (1980), Hartry Field defends a theory of quantity that, he claims, is able to provide both i) an intrinsic explanation of the structure of space, spacetime, and other quantitative properties, and ii) an intrinsic explanation of why certain numerical representations of quantities (distances, lengths, mass, temperature, etc.) are appropriate or acceptable while others are not. But several philosophers have argued otherwise. In this paper I focus on arguments from Ellis and Milne to the effect that one cannot provide an account of quantity in ''purely intrinsic'' terms. I show, first, that these arguments are confused. Second, I show that Field's treatment of quantity can provide an intrinsic explanation of the structure of quantitative properties; what it cannot do is provide an intrinsic explanation of why certain numerical representations are more appropriate than others. Third, I show that one could provide an intrinsic explanation of this sort if one modified Field's account in certain ways.
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