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Everywhere and EverywhenAdventures in Physics and Philosophy$
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Nick Huggett

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195379518

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195379518.001.0001

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Hands and Mirrors

Hands and Mirrors

(p.179) 16 Hands and Mirrors
Everywhere and Everywhen

Nick Huggett (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Many objects are ‘chiral’, coming in left and right varieties; are these properties relations to other things, or are they ‘intrinsic’? For instance, is the property that differentiates my left hand from my right that it fits some gloves and not their partners? Or is it something about the hand without reference to other things? Kant argued against the relational account, for instance claiming that a hand would have to be left or right, even if it were the only thing in the universe. This chapter explains the relational view – the ‘fitting account’ of handedness – and defends it against Kant. Then other issues are addressed: how do we perceive handedness and why do mirrors reflect left‐right but not up‐down? Finally non‐orientable spaces (in which objects change handedness simply by following a suitable path) are explained. These issues have physical significance, because physical laws can depend on handedness.

Keywords:   Kant, chirality, reflection, orientability, Möbius

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