Modes, Disturbances, and Spatio-Temporal Location

In Alex Moran & Carlo Rossi (eds.), Objects and Properties. Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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It is a standard assumption in contemporary metaphysics that concrete objects come with a location in space and time. This applies not only to material objects and events, but also modes (such as the roundness of the apple, the softness of the pillow, Socrates' wisdom) and entities that have been called 'disturbances' (e.g. holes, folds, faults, and scratches). Taking the approach of descriptive metaphysics, I will show that modes and disturbances fail to have a bearer-independent spatial location. This allows for a metaphysical explanation of the Chomskyan contrast between 'There is a fly believed to be in the bottle' and the unacceptable 'There is a flaw believed to be in the argument'. A subsidiary point this paper makes is that in their lack of a direct spatial location, modes need to be sharply distinguished from tropes as a category of foundationalist metaphysics that has been at the center of a pursuit of a one-category ontology since Williams (1953).

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Friederike Moltmann
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique


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