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Collective Powers

Guo, Xi-Yang; Tugby, Matthew


Xi-Yang Guo


Christopher J. Austin

Andrea Roselli


It is natural to think there are higher-level powers, such as a screen’s powers to display various images, and lower-level powers such as each pixel’s powers to display various colours. Moreover, it is natural to think that higher-level powers depend in some way on lower-level powers. However, this appealing picture creates some philosophical puzzles. What are the bearers of higher-level powers? The obvious answer is that higher-level powers are instantiated by composite substances, but this answer creates difficulties. Some have also complained that higher-level powers create a causal exclusion problem. This chapter offers a new way to respond to these puzzles in a way that preserves ontological commitment to higher-level powers. The novel proposal of the theory is that higher-level powers are collective properties which are plurally instantiated by simple substances. The chapter also develops the idea that higher-level powers are grounded by the low-level powers of substances.


Guo, X., & Tugby, M. (2023). Collective Powers. In C. J. Austin, A. Marmodoro, & A. Roselli (Eds.), Powers, Parts and Wholes: Essays on the Mereology of Powers (142-166). New York and Abingdon: Oxon: Routledge.

Online Publication Date Aug 25, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Sep 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 26, 2025
Publisher Routledge
Pages 142-166
Series Title Routledge Studies in Metaphysics
Edition 1st
Book Title Powers, Parts and Wholes: Essays on the Mereology of Powers
Chapter Number 8
ISBN 9781032288567
Public URL
Contract Date Jul 7, 2023


This file is under embargo until Feb 26, 2025 due to copyright restrictions.

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