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Extended identities: The reducibility of non-categorical properties and their bearers

When we take apart big or complicated things—whether events, processes, systems, objects or states—we find smaller or simpler things. Still, some who purport that everything is physical also want to deny that complicated things are sets of simpler things, their relations, and interactions. But that view leads to some confounding puzzles. By contrast, I defend the view that complicated things are nothing over and above simpler things, their relations, and interactions. The latter are all physical and located in space and time, and so are complicated things, like minds and people, and other things defined by what they could or would do. That includes corkscrews and water soluble things. However, the complicated properties of these complicated things show that, very often, these things are either not quite what we think they are, or they are not wholly where we think they are. Sometimes things aren't what we thought. There is no lumniferous aether or phlogiston. But often, complicated things elude identification with their sets of simpler things, relations and interactions, not because they don't belong in predictively successful models of our world, but because they aren't wholly *where* we tend to look. Their boundaries are wider and untidy. As it happens, our minds are like that, and so are we. Finally, the fact that the extended identity of things like us comes as a surprise means our self-engineering could be more self-aware, and should be more self-reflective.
Type of thesis
Hubble, P. (2020). Extended identities: The reducibility of non-categorical properties and their bearers (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13563
The University of Waikato
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