Monday, February 27, 2023

Reducing exact similarity

It is a commonplace that while Platonists need to posit a primitive instantiation relation for a tomato to stand in to the universal redness, trope theorists need an exact similarity relation for the tomato’s redness to stand in to another object’s redness, and hence there is no parsimony advantage to Platonism.

This may be mistaken. For the Platonist needs a degreed or comparative similarity relation, too. It seems to be a given that maroon is more similar to burgundy than blue is to pink, and blue is more similar to pink than green is to bored. But given a degreed or comparative similarity relation, there is hope for defining exact similarity in terms of it. For we can say that x and y are exactly similar provided that it is impossible for two distinct objects to be more similar than x and y are.

That said, comparative similarity is perhaps too weird and mysterious. There are clear cases, as above, but then there are cases which are hard to make sense of. Is maroon more or less similar to burgundy than middle C is to middle B? Is green more or less similar to bored than loud is to quiet?

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