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The Universe As We Find It$
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John Heil

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199596201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199596201.001.0001

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(p.135) Chapter 7 Relations
The Universe As We Find It

John Heil

Oxford University Press

Descriptions of the universe inevitably incorporate relational judgments, judgments that include one or more relational terms. Some philosophers have gone further, defending the thesis that, because scientific theories are most perspicuously represented via a relational vocabulary, science reveals that the universe is at bottom a network of pure relations: relata depend on, are constituted by, relations. Internal and external relations are distinguished and difficulties in providing an ontology of external relations are discussed, along with the idea that truthmakers for irreducibly relational truths could turn out to be nonrelational ways the universe is. Reasons for thinking that this is in fact the case are offered, allowing for the viability of a two-category — substance–property — ontology. The line of approach taken in this chapter suggests that longstanding disagreements concerning the ontology of relations might be resolved, in part, by focusing on the nature of truthmakers for relational truths.

Keywords:   ontology, relation, relata, internal relation, external relation, truthmaker, nonrelational, science

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