### Priority Questions

Let's suppose that there is a two place priority relation that obtains between individuals (we'll ignore the plural priority relation that I talked about in a previous post). So, our basic locution will be x is prior to y.

Now, there are clearly some questions that we can ask about priority. First, we might try to find a reduction of priority or (perhaps equivalently) an answer to the General Priority Question:

(GPQ) necessarily, x is prior to y iff ______?

One plausible answer to the above question, perhaps favored by certain kinds of pluralists, is the following.

(A1) necessarily, x is prior to y iff x is a proper part of y.

Another answer, perhaps favored by certain kinds of monists, is the following:

(A2) necessarily, x is prior to y iff y is a proper part of x.

These two views are very simple. But, there are, of course, those who think that the answer needs to be more complicated. For example, some might think that the particles that compose me are prior to me, but I am prior to any other things that are composed of any number of those particles (for example, I am prior to my hand). If you hold this kind of view, you need cannot accept the simple answers (A1) and (A2) above.

In addition to a General Priority Question, there is also the Special Priority Question:

(SPQ) Necessarily, x is prior to something iff ___________?

If we answer this question by saying that any conditions are necessary and sufficient for x to be prior to something, that is if we accept unrestricted priority, then we are committed to infinite ascent of priority. This is because the priority relation is anti-symmetric. So, if x is prior to something, then that something must be prior to some further distinct thing and so on. So, if we think that priority has a top level, then we must accept a restriction on priority.

We might also ask the Inverse Special Priority Question:

(ISPQ) Necessarily, something is prior to x iff ____________?

Again, if we answer this question by saying that any conditions are necessary and sufficient for something to be prior to x, that is if we accept unrestricted priors, then we are committed to infinite descent of priority. Again, this is because the priority relation is antisymmetric.

Finally, we might introduce the following definition for fundamentalilty:

(D1) x is fundamental =df x is prior to something and nothing is prior to x.

Now we can ask the fundamentality question:

(FQ) Necessarily, x is fundamental iff ___________?

It looks to me like the following is true. If we have answers to the (SPQ) and (ISPQ), then we will have an answer to the (FQ). Hence, if there is no answer to the (FQ), if we must accept brutal fundamentality, then we must say that one of (SPQ) or (ISPQ) has no answer as well. But, I wonder if the following is true: If there is no answer to one of (SPQ) or (ISPQ), then there is no answer to (FQ). I wonder whether saying that there is no answer to either (SPQ) or (ISPQ) commits one to brutal fundamentality. I have not thought this through yet, but I hope to have some ideas soon.