The Varieties of Instantiation

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 7 (3):417-437 (2021)
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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 - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (1):168-191.

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References found in this work

Perception and the fall from Eden.David J. Chalmers - 2006 - In Tamar Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Perceptual experience. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 49--125.
The philosophical writings of Descartes.René Descartes - 1984 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Perception: A Representative Theory.Frank Jackson - 1977 - Cambridge University Press.
The Mind's Construction: The Ontology of Mind and Mental Action.Matthew Soteriou - 2013 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

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