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Fundamental non-qualitative properties

  • Byron SimmonsEmail author


The distinction between qualitative and non-qualitative properties should be familiar from discussions of the principle of the identity of indiscernibles: two otherwise exactly similar individuals, Castor and Pollux, might share all their qualitative properties yet differ with respect to their non-qualitative properties—for while Castor has the property being identical to Castor, Pollux does not. But while this distinction is familiar, there has not been much critical attention devoted to spelling out its precise nature. I argue that the class of non-qualitative properties is broader than it is often taken to be. When properly construed, it will not only include properties such as being identical to Castor, which somehow make reference to particular individuals, it will also include more general properties such as identity, composition, set membership, as well as various peculiarly ontological properties. Given that some of these more general properties help to explain objective similarity, we have reason to believe that there are fundamental non-qualitative properties.


Qualitative properties Fundamental properties Observable properties Causal powers Necessary connections Absolute actuality 



Thanks to Sam Cowling, André Gallois, Arturo Javier-Castellanos, Li Kang, Ned Markosian, Kris McDaniel, Preston Werner, two anonymous referees, and an audience at the 2016 Pacific division meeting of the APA for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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