Journal Article

Relational Holism and Humean Supervenience

George Darby

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 63, issue 4, pages 773-788
Published in print December 2012 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online February 2012 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axr049
Relational Holism and Humean Supervenience

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It has been widely noted that Humean supervenience, according to which everything supervenes on intrinsic properties of point-sized things and the spatiotemporal relations between them, is at odds with the nonlocal character of quantum mechanics, according to which not everything supervenes on intrinsic properties of point-sized things and the spatiotemporal relations between them. In particular, a standard view is that the parts of a composite quantum system instantiate further relations which are not accounted for in Lewis's Humean mosaic. But that suggests a simple solution: Why couldn't Lewis simply add these new relations to the supervenience basis? The aim of this article is to use Humean supervenience as a foil to spell out a feature of entanglement of general metaphysical interest: The way in which the metaphysical lessons drawn for two-party systems ramify when systems of many parties are considered. The main conclusion is that the proposed simple fix in fact results in a supervenience thesis different in kind from Lewis's, by making the relations in the supervenience basis global in a certain sense.

1Introduction

2Basic Argument against Humean Supervenience

3A Natural Line of Response

4A Different Kind of Supervenience Thesis

Journal Article.  6411 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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