Being Something: Properties and Predicative Quantification

Mind 125 (499):643-689 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX


If I say that Alice is everything Oscar hopes to be, I seem to be quantifying over properties. That suggestion faces an immediate difficulty, however: though Alice may be wise, she surely is not the property of being wise. This problem can be framed in terms of a substitution failure: if a predicate like ‘happy’ denoted a property, we would expect pairs like ‘Oscar is happy’ and ‘Oscar is the property of being happy’ to be equivalent, which they clearly are not. I argue that a Fregean response that draws a distinction between objects and concepts faces serious difficulties, and that a syntactic solution to the substitution problem likewise fails. I propose to account for the substitution failure by instead distinguishing different ways that expressions can stand for properties: whereas ‘the property of being happy’ refers to a property, ‘happy’ expresses or ascribes that property. I go on to compare this view to proposals made by Wright and Liebesman, and end by drawing out a consequence my proposal has for a debate about the ontological commitments of predicatively quantified sentences.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 83,802

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Emergence and reduction: Reply to Kim.Ausonio Marras - 2006 - Synthese 151 (3):561-569.
All the Existences that There Are.Alberto Voltolini - 2012 - Disputatio 4 (32):361-383.
Empirical meaningfulness and intuitionistic logic.John Myhill - 1972 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 33 (2):186-191.
Inexpressible properties and Grelling’s antinomy.Benjamin Schnieder - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (3):369 - 385.
What a Structuralist Theory of Properties Could Not Be.Nora Berenstain - 2016 - In Anna Marmodoro & David Yates (ed.), The Metaphysics of Relations. OUP. Oxford University Press.
Supervenience: The grand-property hypothesis.Peter Forrest - 1988 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 66 (1):1-12.


Added to PP

48 (#265,646)

6 months
6 (#144,556)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Michael Rieppel
Syracuse University

Citations of this work

Against Cumulative Type Theory.Tim Button & Robert Trueman - 2022 - Review of Symbolic Logic 15 (4):907-49.
A fictionalist theory of universals.Tim Button & Robert Trueman - forthcoming - In Peter Fritz & Nicholas K. Jones (eds.), Higher-Order Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.
Prior's puzzle generalized.Justin D'Ambrosio - 2023 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 106 (1):196-220.
Denoting and Disquoting.Michael Rieppel - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (3):548-561.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references