Some structural and logical aspects of the notion of supervenience

Lloyd Humberstone


The sophisticated philosophical literature on supervenience stands in need of supplementation by a treatment of more fundamental questions about what features this notion possesses solely in virtue of the form of the definition it is standardly given. We provide a discussion of these features without getting involved in the merits of particular supervenience claims advanced and contested in that literature. The discussion touches on the relation between supervenience and the notion of a closure operation (§§2,3); the more 'logical' part of the discussion–in the sense that we consider formal languages and valuations (truth-value assignments)–takes us into the relationship between what we call inference-determined and supervenience- determined consequence relations (§§4,5). An 'edited' reading of the paper is available for those wishing to ignore the Appendix to ¤I, and the various passages explicitly marked 'Digression'.

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