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Physicalism and the Identity of Identity Theories

  • Samuel Z. ElginEmail author
Original Research


It is often said that there are two varieties of identity theory. Type-identity theorists interpret physicalism as the claim that every property is identical to a physical property, while token-identity theorists interpret it as the claim that every particular is identical to a physical particular. The aim of this paper is to undermine the distinction between the two. Drawing on recent work connecting generalized identity to truth-maker semantics, I demonstrate that these interpretations are logically equivalent. I then argue that each has the resources to resolve problems facing the other.


Physicalism Generalized identities Truth-maker semantics Multiple realizability 



I would like to thank the attendees of the 2018 workshop on the History and Metaphysics of the Concept of Laws of Nature at Central European University for their helpful feedback, as well as Shamik Dasgupta, Michael Della Rocca, Catherine Elgin, Kit Fine and Barry Loewer for their illuminating discussions and written comments on previous versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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