Local Qualities

Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 11:224-242 (2018)
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For Humean atomists, cosmic contents supervene on a spatiotemporal mosaic of modally insulated, freely recombinable local qualities. One piecemeal subspecies of Humean atomism promises more than global supervenience—somehow or other—on a separable base; it constrains how exactly elemental inputs yield everything else. Roughly, the distribution of basic local qualities across elements in one part of our cosmos metaphysically suffices for the complete local physical state of that part: anything sharing this part’s basic elemental decoration should share its more complete contents, regardless of what may be happening elsewhere. On a non-piecemeal alternative, derivative contents can be recognizably local to, or manifest within, one part of our cosmos while reflecting some more global elemental base. To develop this alternative, non-piecemeal Humeans can borrow inspiration from some critics of Humean supervenience, who already distinguish a broader notion of locality from strict Humean intrinsicality.

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Elizabeth Miller
Brown University


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