Overall similarity, natural properties, and paraphrases

Philosophical Studies 167 (2):387-399 (2014)
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I call anti-resemblism the thesis that independently of any contextual specification there is no determinate fact of the matter about the comparative overall similarity of things. Anti-resemblism plays crucial roles in the philosophy of David Lewis. For instance, Lewis has argued that his counterpart theory is anti-essentialist on the grounds that counterpart relations are relations of comparative overall similarity and that anti-resemblism is true. After Lewis committed himself to a form of realism about natural properties he maintained that anti-resemblism is true about the relations of overall similarity that enter his counterpart theory and his analysis of counterfactuals. However, in this article I argue that Lewis’s account of degrees of naturalness for properties combined with his modal realism entails that anti-resemblism is false. The Lewisian must amend Lewis’s system if she aims to benefit from the alleged virtues of anti-resemblism. I consider two ways of amending it, neither of which is a free lunch.
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