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This paper proposes that if individual X ‘inherits’ property F from individual Y, we should be leery of explanations that appeal to X’s being F. This bears on what I’ll call “emergent substance dualism”, the view that human persons or selves are metaphysically fundamental or “new kinds of things with new kinds of causal powers” even though they depend in some sense on physical particulars (Baker in Persons and bodies: a constitution view. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000, 22, 20; Lowe in Erkenntnis 65(1):5–23, 2006; Personal agency. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008). Two of the most prominent advocates of this view, Lynne Rudder Baker and E.J. Lowe, suggest that emergent particulars have physical properties in virtue of the relations they bear to physical particulars—they ‘inherit’ their physical properties. In Sect. 1, I argue that having a property F this way is not instantiating F. In Sect. 2, I raise concerns that if emergent particulars don’t instantiate physical properties, then facts about emergent particulars don’t explain intentional actions. I suggest that emergent dualism would be more attractive if it could avoid this apparent consequence. In Sect. 3, I propose a view according to which some instances of physical properties are instantiated by both an emergent particular and its body.


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Engelhardt, Jeff. "Emergent Substances, Physical Properties, Action Explanations." Erkenntnis (Article published online December 19, 2014). doi 10.1007/s10670-014-9714-x

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