The Varieties of Instantiation

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 7 (3):417-437 (2021)
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Abstract

Working with the assumption that properties depend for their instantiation on substances, I argue against a unitary analysis of instantiation. On the standard view, a property is instantiated just in case there is a substance that serves as the bearer of the property. But this view cannot make sense of how properties that are mind-dependent depend for their instantiation on minds. I consider two classes of properties that philosophers often take to be mind-dependent: sensible qualities like color and bodily sensations like itches. Given that the mind is never itself literally red or itchy, we cannot explain the instantiation of these qualities as a matter of their having a mental bearer. Appealing to insights from Berkeley, I defend a view on which a property can be instantiated not in virtue of having a bearer—mental or material—but rather in virtue of being the object of a conscious act of perception. In the second half of the paper, I suggest that the best account of sensible qualities and bodily sensations ultimately makes use of both varieties of instantiation.

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Umrao Sethi
Brandeis University

Citations of this work

Mind-Dependence in Berkeley and the Problem of Perception.Umrao Sethi - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (4):648-668.
Sensible individuation.Umrao Sethi - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

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References found in this work

XIV*—Ontological Dependence.Kit Fine - 1995 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 95 (1):269-290.
The Causal Theory of Perception.H. P. Grice & Alan R. White - 1961 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 35 (1):121-168.
Mental paint and mental latex.Ned Block - 1996 - Philosophical Issues 7:19-49.

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