pp 1–14 | Cite as

Determinables, location, and indeterminacy

  • Claudio CalosiEmail author
Original Research


Discussions about determinables and determinates, on the one hand, and discussions about (formal) theories of location, on the other, have thus far proceeded without any visible interaction, in substantive mutual neglect. This paper aims to remedy this situation of neglect. It explicitly relates (theories of) determinables and (theories of) location. First, I argue that some well known principles of location turn out to be instances of principles relating determinables and determinates. Building on this I then argue that theories of location present formidable counterexamples to those principles about determinables and determinates. One such counterexample in particular is used as an argument against disjunctivism. Finally, I relate the entire discussion to yet another crucial debate in metaphysics, that of metaphysical indeterminacy.


Determinables and Determinates Location Disjunctivism Metaphysical indeterminacy 



I want to thank Fabrice Correia, Damiano Costa, Alessandro Giordani, Matt Leonard, Kevin Mulligan and Jessica Wilson for several discussions on previous drafts of this paper. I also want to thank two referees for this journal for their insightful suggestions. I also want to acknowledge the generous support of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), Project Number PCEFP1-181088.


  1. Akiba, K. (2004). Vagueness in the world. Noûs, 38, 407–429. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barnes, E. (2010). Ontic vagueness. A guide for the perplexed. Noûs, 44, 601–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnes, E., & Williams, R. (2011). A theory of metaphysical indeterminacy. In K. Bennett & D. Zimmerman (Eds.), Oxford studies in metaphysics (Vol. 6, pp. 103–148). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barker, S., & Dowe, P. (2003). Paradoxes of multilocation. Analysis, 63, 106–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beebee, H., & Rush, M. (2003). Non-paradoxical multi-location. Analysis, 63, 311–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bigelow, J., & Pargetter, R. (1990). Science and necessity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bokulich, A. (2014). Metaphysical indeterminacy, properties, and quantum theory. Res Philosophica, 91, 449–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Calosi, C., & Costa, D. (2015). Multilocation: Fusions and confusions. Philosophia, 42, 25–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Calosi, C., & Wilson, J. (2018). Quantum metaphysical indeterminacy. Philosophical Studies.
  10. Casati, R., & Varzi, A. (1999). Parts and places. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  11. Clapp, L. (2001). Disjunctive properties: multiple realizations. Journal of Philosophy, 98(3), 111–136.Google Scholar
  12. Correia, F., & Skiles, A. (2019). Grounding, essence, and identity. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  13. Denby, D. (2001). Determinable nominalism. Philosophical Studies, 102(3), 297–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Donnelly, M. (2010). Parthood and multi-location. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, 5, 203–243.Google Scholar
  15. Dorr, C. (2016). To be F is to be G. Philosophical Perspectives, 30, 39–134. Metaphysics.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eagle, A. (2010). Location and perdurance. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, 5, 53–94.Google Scholar
  17. Eagle, A. (2016). Multiple location defended. Philosophical Studies, 173, 2215–2231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fine, K. (2011). An abstract characterization of the determinate/determinable distinction. Philosophical Perspectives, 25(1), 161–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. French, S. (2014). The structure of the world: Metaphysics and representation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Funkhouser, E. (2006). The determinable–determinate relation. Noûs, 40(3), 548–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Geach, P. (1979). Truth, love and immortality. An introduction to McTaggart’s philosophy. Berkley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  22. Gilmore, C. (2018). Location and mereology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  23. Gruszczynski, R., & Pietruszczak, A. (2009). Space, points and mereology. On foundations of point-free Euclidean geometry. Logic and Logical Philosophy, 18, 145–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hawthorne, J. (2008). Three-dimensionalism vs four-dimensionalism. In T. Sider, J. Hawthorne, & D. Zimmerman (Eds.), Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics (pp. 263–282). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Heil, J. (2003). Levels of reality. Ratio, 16(3), 205–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hudson, H. (2001). A materialist metaphysics of the human person. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Johnson, W. E. (1921). Logic (Part 1). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Kleinschmidt, S. (2016). Placement permissivism and logic of location. Journal of Philosophy, 113(3), 117–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Leonard, M. (2018). Enduring through gunk. Erkenntnis.
  30. Massin, O. (2013). Determinables and brute similarities. In C. Svennerlind, J. Almang, & R. Ingthorrson (Eds.), Johanssonian investigations (pp. 388–420). Hesuenstamm: Ontolos Verlag.Google Scholar
  31. McDaniel, K. (2003). No paradox of multi-location. Analysis, 63(4), 309–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. O’Leary Hawthorne, J., & Cover, J. A. (1998). A world of universals. Philosophical Studies, 91(3), 205–2019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Parsons, J. (2007). Theories of location. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, 3, 201–232.Google Scholar
  34. Pashby, T. (2016). How Do things persist? Location in physics and the metaphysics of persistence. Dialectica, 70(3), 269–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Prior, J. (1949a). Determinables, determinates, and determinants (I). Mind, 58(229), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Prior, J. (1949b). Determinables, determinates, and determinants (II). Mind, 58(230), 178–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rodriguez-Peryera, G. (2002). Resemblance nominalism: A solution to the problem of universals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sattig, T. (2006). The language and reality of time. Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Simons, P. (2014). Where it’s at: Modes of occupation and kinds of occupant. In S. Kleinschmidt (Ed.), Mereology and location (pp. 59–68). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Varzi, A. (2016). Mereology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  41. Wilson, J. (2013). A determinable based account of metaphysical indeterminacy. Inquiry, 56(4), 359–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wilson, J. (2017a). Are there indeterminate state of affairs? Yes. In E. Barnes (Ed.), Current controversies in metaphysics (pp. 105–125). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Wilson, J. (2017b). Determinable and determinates. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  44. Yablo, S. (1992). Mental causation. The Philosophical Review, 101(2), 245–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations