Explaining identity and distinctness

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9 Scopus citations


This paper offers a metaphysical explanation of the identity and distinctness of concrete objects. It is tempting to try to distinguish concrete objects on the basis of their possessing different qualitative features, where qualitative features are ones that do not involve identity. Yet, this criterion for object identity faces counterexamples: distinct objects can share all of their qualitative features. This paper suggests that in order to distinguish concrete objects we need to look not only at which properties and relations objects instantiate but also how they instantiate these properties and relations. I propose that objects are identical when they stand in certain qualitative relations in virtue of their existence. And concrete objects are distinct when they do not stand in the same kinds of relations to one another in virtue of their existence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2073-2096
Number of pages24
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Grounding
  • Identity
  • Metaphysics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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