Abstractionism and physical quantitites


  • Vincenzo Ciccarelli




In this paper, I present two crucial problems for Wolff’s metaphysics of quantities: 1) The structural identification problem and 2) the Pythagorean problem. The former is the problem of uniquely defining a general algebraic structure for all quantities; the latter is the problem of distinguishing physical quantitative structure from mathematical quantities. While Wolff seems to have a consistent and elegant solution to the first problem, the second problem may put in jeopardy his metaphysical view on quantities as spaces. After drawing a parallelism between Wolff’s treatment of quantitative structures and Frege’s conception of quantitative domain, I propose a solution to the Pythagorean problem based on the idea that mathematical structures are the result of applying an abstraction principle on physical quantitative structures. In particular, I propose the view that abstraction may be seen as the operation of structure determination which transforms concrete physical quantities (i.e. undetermined structures) into abstract mathematical quantities (fully determined structures of thin and shallow objects).

Keywords: Metaphysics of Quantities, Abstraction Principles, Locationism.


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