, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 527-546
Date: 04 Nov 2010

The Partial Identity Account of Partial Similarity Revisited

Abstract

This paper provides a defence of the account of partial resemblances between properties according to which such resemblances are due to partial identities of constituent properties. It is argued, first of all, that the account is not only required by realists about universals à la Armstrong, but also useful (of course, in an appropriately re-formulated form) for those who prefer a nominalistic ontology for material objects. For this reason, the paper only briefly considers the problem of how to conceive of the structural universals first posited by Armstrong in order to explain partial resemblances, and focuses instead on criticisms that have been levelled against the theory (by Pautz, Eddon, Denkel and Gibb) and that apply regardless of one’s preferred ontological framework. The partial identity account is defended from these objections and, in doing so, a hitherto quite neglected connection—between the debate about partial similarity as partial identity and that concerning ontological finitism versus infinitism—is looked at in some detail.