The Rise of Relationals

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Muller, F.A.
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We begin by criticising an elaboration of an argument in this journal due to K. Hawley (2009), who argued that, when Leibniz’s Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles (PII) faces counter-examples, invoking relations to save PII fails. We argue that insufficient attention has been paid to a particular distinction. We proceed by demonstrating that in most putative counter-examples to PII (due to Immanuel Kant, Max Black, Alfred Julius Ayer, Peter Frederick Strawson, Hermann Weyl, Christian Wuthrich), the so-called Discerning Defence trumps the Summing Defence of PII. The general kind of objects that do the discerning in all cases form a category that has received little if any attention in metaphysics. This category of objects lies between indiscernibles and individuals and is called relationals — objects that can be discerned by means of relations only and not by properties. Remarkably, relationals turn out to populate the universe.