A Non-modal Conception of Secondary Properties

Philosophical Papers 36 (1):1-33 (2007)
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Abstract

There seems to be a distinction between primary and secondary properties; some philosophers defend the view that properties like colours and values are secondary, while others criticize it. The distinction is usually introduced in terms of essence; roughly, secondary properties essentially involve mental states, while primary properties do not. In part because this does not seem very illuminating, philosophers have produced different reductive analyses in modal terms, metaphysic or epistemic. Here I will argue, firstly, that some well-known examples fail, and also that there are deep reasons why such approaches should do so. Secondly, I will argue that it is acceptable to remain satisfied with the non-reductive account in terms of essence. To that end, I will indicate how such an explication could be put to use to support the claim that properties like colours and values are secondary. In a series of recent writings, Kit Fine has argued that essence cannot be reductively analysed in modal terms. Fine offers some examples to motivate his claim. I suggest that the primary/secondary distinction constitutes a philosophically interesting illustration

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Manuel García-Carpintero
Universitat de Barcelona

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Truth and objectivity.Crispin Wright - 1992 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Truth and Objectivity.Crispin Wright - 1992 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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