Intensive and Extensive Quantities

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Perry, Zee
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conference paper description
Quantities are properties and relations which exhibit "quantitative structure". For physical quantities, this structure can impact the non-quantitative world in different ways. In this paper I introduce and motivate a novel distinction between quantities based on the way their quantitative structure constrains the possible mereological structure of their instances. Specifically, I identify a category of “properly extensive” quantities, which are a proper sub-class of the additive or extensive quantities. I present and motivate this distinction using two case studies of successful physical measurements. (of mass and length, respectively). I argue that the best explanation for the success of the length measurement requires us to adopt a notion of proper extensiveness, which is distinct from mere additivity, which is exhibited by inertial mass. I further discuss the consequences of this distinction, sketching an application of proper extensiveness for the project of producing a non-mathematical and non-metrical reductive metaphysics of quantity.