Chapter

Relations

John Heil

in The Universe As We Find It

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199596201
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741876 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199596201.003.0007
Relations

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Descriptions of the universe inevitably incorporate relational judgments, judgments that include one or more relational terms. Some philosophers have gone further, defending the thesis that, because scientific theories are most perspicuously represented via a relational vocabulary, science reveals that the universe is at bottom a network of pure relations: relata depend on, are constituted by, relations. Internal and external relations are distinguished and difficulties in providing an ontology of external relations are discussed, along with the idea that truthmakers for irreducibly relational truths could turn out to be nonrelational ways the universe is. Reasons for thinking that this is in fact the case are offered, allowing for the viability of a two-category — substance–property — ontology. The line of approach taken in this chapter suggests that longstanding disagreements concerning the ontology of relations might be resolved, in part, by focusing on the nature of truthmakers for relational truths.

Keywords: ontology; relation; relata; internal relation; external relation; truthmaker; nonrelational; science

Chapter.  5931 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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