Intrinsic and extrinsic properties (philosophy)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

An intrinsic property is a property that an object or a thing has of itself, independently of other things, including its context. An extrinsic (or relational) property is a property that depends on a thing's relationship with other things. For example, mass is a physical intrinsic property of any physical object, whereas weight is an extrinsic property that varies depending on the strength of the gravitational field in which the respective object is placed.

Contents

Criteria

David Lewis offered a list of criteria that should condense the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties (numbers and italics added):

  1. A sentence or statement or proposition that ascribes intrinsic properties to something is entirely about that thing; whereas an ascription of extrinsic properties to something is not entirely about that thing, though it may well be about some larger whole which includes that thing as part.
  2. A thing has its intrinsic properties in virtue of the way that thing itself, and nothing else, is. Not so for extrinsic properties, though a thing may well have these in virtue of the way some larger whole is.
  3. The intrinsic properties of something depend only on that thing; whereas the extrinsic properties of something may depend, wholly or partly, on something else.
  4. If something has an intrinsic property, then so does any perfect duplicate of that thing; whereas duplicates situated in different surroundings will differ in their extrinsic properties.

Value

Intrinsic properties are fundamental in understanding Kantian deontological ethics, which is based upon the argument that an action should be viewed on its intrinsic value (the value of the action in itself) with regards to ethics and morality, as opposed to consequentialist utilitarian arguments that an action should be viewed by the value of its outcomes.

Intrinsicism and Extrinsicism

Intrinsicism

Intrinsicism is the belief that value is a non-relational characteristic of an object. This means that an object can be valuable or not, good or bad, without reference to who it is good or bad for, and without reference to the reason it is good or bad. A present day example of it is the belief that guns are evil. People claim that guns are evil in themselves.

Extrinsicism

Extrinsicism is the tendency to place major emphasis on external matters rather than on more profound realities. In terms of morals and ethics, it tends to stress the external observance of laws and precepts, with lesser concern for the ultimate principles underlying moral conduct.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Intrinsic and extrinsic properties (philosophy)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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