MARY KATE M
(Received 31 December 1999; received in ﬁnal version 22 November 2000)
ABSTRACT. The idea that the world is human construction is fairly familiar and
generally disparaged. One version of this claim is partially defended here. This
subjectivist thesis concerns a debate about the objectivity of rightness of cate-
gorization. A problem about the discriminatory role of properties is both presented
and motivated. The subjectivist thesis is articulated and defended against two
powerful objections. Finally, this thesis is shown to be conceptually independent
of both veriﬁcationism and empirical idealism.
The idea that the world is a human construct is fairly familiar and
generally disparaged. Mere common sense allegedly dictates that
the world does not depend on us in any so signiﬁcant a way as to
warrant the claim that we construct it. Of course, there are certain
uncontroversial ways in which what the world is like depends on us.
By causally interacting with the world, for instance, we change how
parts of the world are. When I push on a pull door, for example, I am
exerting a force that would not otherwise be there. In such a case, I
am changing what the world is like. Similarly, how we are partially
determines how the world is sinceweareapartoftheworld.Facts
about Joe, for example, ﬁx facts about the world; they (trivially)
ﬁx facts about just that part of the world that is Joe. Such cases
alone, however, do not warrant the conclusion that the world is an
artifact of our construction. Moreover, those who contend that the
world is a human construct surely have something more substantive
and controversial in mind. Part of my enterprise in this paper is
to make precise one such sort of subjectivism about the world.
In what follows, I will argue that one such sort of subjectivism
concerns rightness of categorization and boils down to a claim about
Philosophical Studies 105: 1–23, 2001.
© 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.