Flat Versus Dimensioned: the What and the How of Functional Realization

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I resolve an argument over “flat” versus “dimensioned” theories of realization. The theories concern, in part, whether realized and realizing properties are instantiated by the same individual (the flat theory) or different individuals in a part-whole relationship (the dimensioned theory). Carl Gillett has argued that the two views conflict, and that flat theories should be rejected on grounds that they fail to capture scientific cases involving a dimensioned relation between individuals and their constituent parts. I argue on the contrary that the two types of theory complement one another, even on the same range of scientific cases. I illustrate the point with two popular functionalist versions of flat and dimensioned positions – causal-role functionalism and a functional analysis by decomposition – that combine into a larger picture I call “comprehensive functional realization.” I also respond to some possible objections to this synthesis of functionalist views.
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First archival date: 2010-07-08
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