How to Fix Directions Or Are Assignments of Vector Characteristics Attributions of Intrinsic Properties?

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Abstract

In physics, objects are often assigned vector characteristics such as a specific velocity. How can this be understood from a metaphysical point of view – is assigning an object a vector characteristic to attribute it an intrinsic property? As a short review of Newtonian, special relativistic and general relativistic physics shows, if we wish to assign some object a vector characteristic, we have to relate it to something – call it S. If S is to be different from the original object – and I argue for this assumption – then having the specific vector characteristic is not an intrinsic property under different readings of “intrinsic”. For instance, I argue that lonely objects with different orientations do not constitute metaphysically distinct possibilities. There are, however, difficulties in applying the loneliness test, and they concern the role of the space-time.

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