An Argument for the Extrinsic Grounding of Mass
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Several philosophers of science and metaphysicians claim that the dispositional properties of fundamental particles, such as the mass, charge, and spin of electrons, are ungrounded in any further properties. It is assumed by those making this argument that such properties are intrinsic, and thus if they are grounded at all they must be grounded intrinsically. However, this paper advances an argument, with one empirical premise and one metaphysical premise, for the claim that mass is extrinsically grounded and is thus an extrinsic disposition. Although the argument concerns mass characterized as a disposition, it applies equally well whether mass is a categorical or dispositional property; however, the dispositional nature of mass is relevant to some important objections and implications discussed.
I would like to thank Jennifer McKitrick for many beneficial discussions about the ideas in this paper, and for providing detailed comments over the course of several early drafts. I presented earlier versions of this paper at both a graduate student colloquium (in December 2008), and a meeting of a graduate seminar on dispositions led by Jennifer McKitrick (in November 2006), at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; I am grateful for discussion with audience members at both events. Thanks to Ed Becker, David Chavez, Reina Hayaki, Harry Ide, Jonathan Jacobs, Joe Mendola, and Stathis Psillos for discussion and feedback. Three anonymous reviewers for Erkenntnis provided very detailed and helpful comments, and I thank them for their generosity. Two other anonymous reviewers also provided helpful feedback on a very early version of this paper.
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