David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Stephen Laurence & Cynthia Macdonald (eds.), Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics. Blackwell (1998)
Our day-to-day experience of the world regularly brings us into contact with middlesized objects such as apples, dogs, and other human beings. These objects possess observable properties, properties that are available or accessible to the unaided senses, such as redness and roundness, as well as properties that are not so available, such as chemical ones. Both of these kinds of properties serve as valuable sources of information about our familiar middle-sized objects at least to the extent that they enable us to understand the behaviours of those objects and their effects on each other and on us. I see the apple on the table before me, and in doing so I see its redness, its roundness, and so on. I do not see, but know that it has, a certain chemical constitution. The knowledge gained of the apple by means of both properties tells me something about the nature of that apple. In general, most, if not all, of the properties that objects in the observable world possess serve as the basis of our knowledge of such objects. But the subject-predicate form of much of our discourse and thought about objects suggests that substances are one kind of thing, properties another. We use subject terms such as names to identify objects, predicate terms to attribute properties to them. What, then, is it for an object to have a property? And what is the relation between an object and its properties?
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