The Metaphysics of Resemblance

Dissertation, University of Geneva (2009)
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Abstract
The topic of this study is the resemblance of individuals. The underlying contention of this dissertation is that the resemblance of individuals is a taxing and challenging philosophical topic. Two main claims are defended in this study to support this contention. The first of these claims is that resemblance is not a binary relation but a monadic multigrade property. The second of these claims is that the metaphysics of resemblance and the metaphysics of properties are distinct, although not independent, philosophical issues. That resemblance is not binary but a monadic multigrade property makes resemblance taxing in at least two ways. First, resemblance is traditionally conceived of as a binary relation and on my account this traditional view is wrong. Second, a metaphysical account of multigrade properties is in itself a challenging issue. That the metaphysics of resemblance and the metaphysics of properties are distinct is motivated by the fact that an answer to the central question of the metaphysics of resemblance, which I identify as the question of whether the resemblance facts are context-relative, is not determined by any positioning on the central debate in the metaphysics of properties: the debate between the realist and the nominalist. Authors engaged in the realist/nominalist debate often address the central question of the metaphysics of resemblance in few words as their interest in resemblance is usually no more than an epiphenomenom of their interest in properties. It is one goal of this study to convince the reader that the central question of the metaphysics of resemblance needs to be addressed with more depth, and that addressing this question is challenging.
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