Sydney Shoemaker's "Subset Account" offers a new take on determinableproperties and the realization relation as well as a defense of non-reductive physicalism from the problem of mental causation. At the heart of this account are the claims that (1) mental properties are determinableproperties and (2) the causal powers that individuate a determinable property are a proper subset of the causal powers that individuate the determinates of that property. The second claim, however, has (...) led to the accusation that the effects caused by the instantiation of a determinable property will also be caused by the instantiation of the determinates of that propertyâ€”so instead of solving the problem of mental causation, the Subset Account ends up guaranteeing that the effects of mental properties (and all other types of determinable property) will be causally overdetermined! In this paper, I explore this objection. I argue that both sides in this debate have failed to engage the question at the heart of the objection: Given that both a determinable property and its determinates have the power to cause some effect (E), does it follow that both will actually cause E when the relevant conditions obtain? To make genuine progress towards answering this question, we need to take a serious look at the metaphysics of causation. With the debate properly reframed and issues about the metaphysics of causation front and center, I explore the question of whether the Subset Account is doomed to result in problematic causal overdetermination. (shrink)
Do determinableproperties such as colour, mass, and height exist in addition to their corresponding determinates, being red, having a mass of 1 kilogram, and having a height of 2 metres? Optimists say yes, pessimists say no. Among the latter are Carl Gillett and Bradley Rives who argue that optimism leads to systematic overdetermination of causal powers and hence should be rejected on the grounds that the position is ontologically unparsimonious. In this paper I defend optimism against this (...) charge by showing that overdetermination of causal powers cannot plausibly be avoided when grounding what I call joint powers. It is therefore not clear why the optimist should be worried about the overdetermination of causal powers that follows from positing determinableproperties. (shrink)
Several essays in this volume exploit the idea that in visual experience, and in other forms of consciousness, something is present to consciousness, or phenomenally present to the experiencing subject. This is a venerable idea. Hume, for example, understood conscious experience in terms of the various items ‘present to the mind’. However, it is not obvious how the idea should be understood and there are grounds for worrying that there is no good way of making it precise. Here I explore (...) a way of making precise the idea that properties of things, such as their shapes and colours, are present to us in visual experience. I argue that this important idea is coherent, well motivated and empirically plausible, provided that we reject two traditional assumptions: that maximally determinate properties, rather than just determinableproperties, are visually present; that we can tell through introspection exactly which properties are visually present to us. (shrink)
This paper presents a puzzle or antinomy about the role of properties in causation. In theories of properties, a distinction is often made between determinableproperties, like red, and their determinates, like scarlet (see Armstrong 1978, volume II). Sometimes determinableproperties are cited in causal explanations, as when we say that someone stopped at the traffic light because it was red. If we accept that properties can be among the relata of causation, then (...) it can be argued that there are good reasons for allowing that some of these are determinableproperties. On the other hand, there are strong arguments in the metaphysics of properties to treat properties as sparse in David Lewis’s (1983) sense. But then it seems that we only need to believe in the most determinate properties: particular shades of colour, specific masses, lengths and so on. And if we also agree with Lewis that sparse properties are ‘the ones relevant to causal powers’ (1983: 13) it seems we must conclude that if properties are relevant to causation at all, then all of these are determinate properties. I call this ‘the antinomy of determinable causation’. On the one hand, we have a good argument for the claim that determinableproperties can be causes, if any properties are. I call this the Thesis. But on the other hand, we have a good argument for the claim that only the most determinate properties can be causes, if any properties are. I call this the Antithesis. Clearly, we need to reject either the Thesis or the.. (shrink)
It is widely held that some properties are more natural than others and that, as David Lewis put it, “an adequate theory of properties is one that recognises an objective difference between natural and unnatural properties” (Lewis 1983, p. 347). The general line of thought is that such ‘elitism’ about properties is justified as it can give simple and elegant solutions to a number of old metaphysical and philosophical problems. My aim is to analyze what these (...) natural properties are: super-determinates or determinable (or maybe both) and argue that all three of these options would lead to serious difficulties for metaphysical elitism and would prevent natural properties from fulfilling their supposed grand explanatory role. (shrink)
The paper presents a novel version of universalism—the thesis according to which there are only universals, no individuals—which is cashed out in terms of an adverbial analysis of predication. According to the theory, every spatiotemporal occurrence of a universal U can be expressed by a sentence which asserts the existence of U adverbially modified by the spatiotemporal region at which it exists. After some preliminary remarks on the interpretation of natural language, a formal semantics for the theory is first provided, (...) along with an intended interpretation of its key metaphysical imports. Follow some commentaries on the spatiotemporal manifold and determinableproperties. (shrink)
Many phenomena appear to be indeterminate, including material macro-object boundaries, predicates or properties admitting of borderline cases, and certain open future claims. Here I provide an account of indeterminacy in metaphysical, rather than semantic or epistemic, terms. Previous such accounts have been "meta-level" accounts, taking metaphysical indeterminacy (MI) to involve its being indeterminate which of various determinate states of affairs obtain. On my alternative, "object-level" account, MI involves its being determinate (or just plain true) that an indeterminate (less than (...) maximally specific) SOA obtains. I more specifically suggest that MI involves an object's (i) having a determinable property, but (ii) not having any unique determinate of that determinable. I motivate the needed extension of the traditional understanding of determinables, then argue that a determinable-based account of MI accommodates, in intuitive and intelligible fashion, indeterminacy in macro-object boundaries and the open future, while satisfactorily treating the usual concerns to accounts of MI stemming from Evans's argument and the problem of the many. (shrink)
The focus of this commentary is what Andy Clark takes to be the most groundbreaking of the philosophical import of the ‘bidirectional hierarchical model of brain functions’, namely, the claim that perceptual representations represent probabilities. This is what makes his account Bayesian and this is a philosophical or theoretical conclusion that neuroscientists and psychologists are also quick and happy to draw. My claim is that nothing in the ‘bidirectional hierarchical models of brain functions’ implies that perceptual representations are probabilistic, or (...) that they represent or ‘encode probability density distributions’. There is a much more parsimonious way of describing the representations in the bidirectional hierarchical model of brain functions: they attribute properties to objects (or to the perceived scene) that are not fully determinate. (shrink)
The properties colored and red stand in a special relation. Namely, red is a determinate of colored, and colored is determinable relative to red. Many other properties are similarly related. The determination relation is an interesting topic of logical investigation in its own right, and the prominent philosophical inquiries into this relation have, accordingly, operated at a high level of abstraction.1 It is time to return to these investigations, not just as a logical amusement, but for the (...) payoffs such investigation can yield in solving some basic metaphysical problems. The goal in what follows is twofold. First, I argue for a novel understanding of the determination relation. Second, this understanding is applied to yield insights into property instance (e.g., trope) individuation, how different property types can share an instance, the relation between property types and property instances, as well as applications to causation (mental causation, in particular). (shrink)
Are there disjunctive properties? This question is important for at least two reasons. First, disjunctive properties are invoked in defense of certain philosophical theories, especially in the philosophy of mind. Second, the question raises the prior issue of what counts as a genuine property, a central concern in the metaphysics of properties. I argue here, on the basis of general considerations in the metaphysics of properties, that there are no disjunctive properties. Specifically, I argue that (...) genuine properties must guarantee similarity-in-a-respect among their instances, and must inhere in their bearers (two notions to be clarified). Disjunctive properties would fail both requirements. I compare the case of disjunctive properties with “mere Cambridge properties,” determinableproperties, and functional properties, and show how my conception of properties remains compatible with determinables and functional properties while ruling out disjunctive and mere Cambridge properties. (shrink)
I argued in Nanay 2010 that we cannot characterize perceptual content without reference to attention. Here, I defend this account from three objections raised by Jagnow 2011. This mainly takes the form of clarifying some details not sufficiently elaborated in the original article and dispelling some potential misunderstandings.
It has frequently been suggested that quantum mechanics may provide a genuine case of ontic vagueness or metaphysical indeterminacy. However, discussions of quantum theory in the vagueness literature are often cursory and, as I shall argue, have in some respects been misguided. Hitherto much of the debate over ontic vagueness and quantum theory has centered on the “indeterminate identity” construal of ontic vagueness, and whether the quantum phenomenon of entanglement produces particles whose identity is indeterminate. I argue that this way (...) of framing the debate is mistaken. A more thorough examination of quantum theory and the phenomenon of entanglement reveals that quantum mechanics is best interpreted as supporting what I call the “vague property” construal of ontic vagueness, where vague properties are understood in terms of determinableproperties without the corresponding determinates. (shrink)
I shall argue in this article that, if we need to admit of negative facts in our ontology as falsemakers of false propositions, then it is plausible to accept that there are also negative properties conceived of as modes. After having briefly recalled the falsemaker argument, I shall explore five different alternative interpretations of negative facts and I shall demonstrate that each alternative – except for the one involving negative properties – is affected by some problems. Later on, (...) I shall deal with a number of objections against negative properties and I shall demonstrate that they can be overcome without much difficulty. Eventually, I shall tackle Nick Zangwill's argument against the thesis that negative properties are as real as positive ones. Among other things, I shall argue that Zangwill's argument is at least limited in its scope, since it only works with negative and positive determinates within some common determinable. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that the phenomenal similarity between perceiving and visualizing can be explained by the similarity between the structure of the content of these two different mental states. And this puts important constraints on how we should think about perceptual content and the content of mental imagery.
This is a comprehensive discussion of determinables, determinates, and their relation ('determination', for short), covering the historical development of these notions, the theoretical options for understanding them, and certain of their contemporary applications.
In this paper I aim to answer two questions: Can spin be treated as a determinable? Can a treatment of spin as a determinable be used to understand quantum indeterminacy? In response to the first question I show that the relations among spin number, spin components and spin values cannot be captured by a single determination relation; instead we need to look at spin number and spin value separately. In response to the second question I discuss three ways (...) in which the determinables model might be modified to account for indeterminacy, and argue that none of them is fully successful in helping us to understand quantum indeterminacy. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophers commonly suppose that any fundamental entities there may be are maximally determinate. More generally, they commonly suppose that, whether or not there are fundamental entities, any determinable entities there may be are grounded in, hence less fundamental than, more determinate entities. So, for example, Armstrong takes the physical objects constituting the presumed fundamental base to be “determinate in all respects” (1961, 59), and Lewis takes the properties characterizing things “completely and without redundancy” to be “highly specific” (...) (1986, 60). Here I look at the usually cited reasons for these suppositions as directed against the case of determinableproperties, in particular, and argue that none is compelling (Sections 1 to 3). The discussion in Section 3 moreover identifies positive reason for taking some determinableproperties to be part of a fundamental (or relatively fundamental) base. I close (Section 4) by noting certain questions arising from the possibility of fundamental determinables, as directions for future research. (shrink)
How can mental properties bring about physical effects, as they seem to do, given that the physical realizers of the mental goings-on are already sufficient to cause these effects? This question gives rise to the problem of mental causation (MC) and its associated threats of causal overdetermination, mental causal exclusion, and mental causal irrelevance. Some (e.g., Cynthia and Graham Macdonald, and Stephen Yablo) have suggested that understanding mental-physical realization in terms of the determinable/determinate relation (henceforth, 'determination') provides the (...) key to solving the problem of MC: if mental properties are determinables of their physical realizers, then (since determinables and determinates are distinct, yet don't causally compete) all three threats may be avoided. Not everyone agrees that determination can do this good work, however. Some (e.g., Douglas Ehring, Eric Funkhauser, and Sven Walter) object that mental-physical realization can't be determination, since such realization lacks one or other characteristic feature of determination. I argue that on a proper understanding of the features of determination key to solving the problem of MC these arguments can be resisted. (shrink)
Theories of causation grounded in counterfactual dependence face the problem of profligate omissions: numerous irrelevant omissions count as causes of an outcome. A recent purported solution to this problem is proportionality, which selects one omission among many candidates as the cause of an outcome. This paper argues that proportionality cannot solve the problem of profligate omissions for two reasons. First: the determinate/determinable relationship that holds between properties like aqua and blue does not hold between negative properties like (...) not aqua and not blue. Negative properties are those at stake in omissive causation. Second: proportionality misconstrues the nature of the problem to be solved. (shrink)
I present, motivate, and defend a theory of properties. Its novel feature is that it takes entire determinables-together-with-their-determinates as its units of analysis. This, I argue, captures the relations of entailment and exclusion among properties, solves the problem of extensionality, and points the way towards an actualist analysis of modality.
The debate between emergentists and reductionists rests on the observation that in many situations, in which it seems desirable to work with a coherent and unified discourse, key predicates fall into different groups, such that pairs of members one taken from each group, cannot be co-predicated of some common subject. Must we settle for ‘island’ discourses in science and human affairs or is some route to a unified discourse still open? To make progress towards resolving the issue the conditions under (...) which such segregations of predicates seem inexorable must be brought out. The distinction between determinable and determinate properties throws light on some aspects of this problem. Bohr’s concept of complementarity, when combined with Gibson’s idea of an affordances as a special class of dispositional properties is helpful. Several seeming problems melt away, for example, how it is possible for a group of notes to become hearable as a melody. The mind-body problem and the viability of the project of reducing biology to chemistry and physics are two issues that are more difficult to deal with. Are mental phenomena, such as feelings and memories emergent from material systems or are they actually material properties themselves? Are the attributes of living beings emergent from certain accidental but long running collocations of chemical reactions, or are they nothing but chemical phenomena? If emergent, in what way are they distinctive from that from which they emerge? (shrink)
Several philosophers (e.g., Ehring (Nous (Detroit, Mich.) 30:461–480, 1996 ); Funkhouser (Nous (Detroit, Mich.) 40:548–569, 2006 ); Walter (Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37:217–244, 2007 ) have argued that there are metaphysical differences between the determinable-determinate relation and the realization relation between mental and physical properties. Others have challenged this claim (e.g., Wilson (Philosophical Studies, 2009 ). In this paper, I argue that there are indeed such differences and propose a “mechanistic” account of realization that elucidates why these differences (...) hold. This account of realization incorporates two distinct roles that mechanisms play in the realization of mental (and other special science) properties which are implicit, but undeveloped, in the literature—what I call “constitutive” and “integrative” mechanisms. I then use these two notions of mechanism to clarify some debates about the relations between realization, multiple realizability, and irreducibility. (shrink)
Universals are usually considered to be universal properties. Since tropes are particular properties, if there are only tropes, there are no universals. However, universals might be thought of not only as common properties, but also as common aspects (“determinable universals”) and common wholes (“concrete universals”). The existence of these two latter concepts of universals is fully compatible with the assumption that all properties are particular. This observation makes possible three different trope theories, which accept tropes (...) and no universals, tropes and determinable universals and tropes and concrete universals. (shrink)
An electron clearly has the property of having a charge of þ1.6 10 19 coulombs, but does it also have the property of being charged ? Philosophers have worried whether so-called ‘determinable’ predicates, such as ‘is charged’, actually refer to determinableproperties in the way they are happy to say that determinate predicates, such as ‘has a charge of þ1.6 10 19 coulombs’, refer to determinate properties. The distinction between determinates and determinables is itself fairly new, (...) dating only to its definition by the Cambridge logician W. E. Johnson early in the last century.1 But despite its newly minted condition the distinction has found little currency in on-going philosophical debates. Or at least until recently. Renewed interest in realist positions about properties, and arguments that the determinable-determinate relation may hold the key to understanding mental causation, have thrust Johnson’s distinction to the fore. With this new attention has also come new ‘optimistic’ positions that endorse the existence of determinableproperties. David Armstrong, Evan Fales, and Sydney Shoemaker, among others, have all defended such optimistic accounts that take determinable predicates, such as ‘is charged’, to refer to determinableproperties.2 In this paper, our goal is to carefully assess optimism and to argue that a pessimistic view, which rejects the existence of determinableproperties, is actually the appropriate default position. (shrink)
In this article I examine some of the issues involved in taking psychiatric disorders as natural kinds. I begin by introducing a permissive model of natural kind-hood that at least prima facie seems to allow psychiatric disorders to be natural kinds. The model, however, hinges on there in principle being some grounding that is shared by all members of a kind, which explain all or most of the additional shared projectible properties. This leads us to the following question: what (...) grounding do psychiatric disorders qua natural kinds have? My principal method for examining the issue is a case study of a particular psychiatric disorder: the so-called “apathetic children.” I argue that there appear to be at least two competing models that both appeal to non-organic a grounding of the disorder. However, for other psychiatric disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, the evidence points toward an organic explanation of the disorder. I contend that what unites psychiatric disorders is not a distinctive type of grounding that all psychiatric disorders share, but the distinctive set of determinableproperties that is shared by all psychiatric disorders. (shrink)
Recent philosophical and empirical contributions strongly suggest that perception attributes determinableproperties to its objects. But a characterisation of determinability via attributed properties is restricted to the level of content and does not capture the difference between perceptual belief and perception on this score. In this paper, I propose a formal way of cashing out the difference between determinable belief and perception. On the view presented here, determinability in perception distinctively involves homogeneous representation or representation that (...) exhibits special sorts of formal type variability. This formal characterisation, I suggest, goes beyond traditional approaches to analog representation and parallels a baseline notion of analog computation. (shrink)
Laws of nature concern the natural properties of things. Newton’s law of gravity states that the gravitational force between objects is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of their distance; Coulomb’s law states a similar functional dependency between charged particles. Each of these properties confers a power to act as specified by the function of the laws. Consequently, properties of the same quantity confer resembling powers. Any theory that takes powers (...) seriously must account for their resemblance. This is the challenge set by the paper. The first part is devoted to Armstrong’s view according to which property resemblance reduces to partial identities between categorical properties. I argue that Armstrong’s solution to the challenge involves accepting determinableproperties but that these should not be admitted. In the second part, I argue that dispositional essentialism can satisfactorily account for orderings among powers in terms of degrees of overlapping potentialities. (shrink)
Among the book's arguments: Aesthetic property relativism, as described by Alan Goldman, requires subjects to make judgments based on prima facie preferences for determinableproperties (eg being curved, being blue). These judgments are not bona fide because they do not require acquaintance with objects. Value concepts and aesthetic (thick) concepts relate contingently. We can be aesthetic property realists, or quasi-realists, without being aesthetic value realists. Contains epistemological arguments against neuro-aesthetics (Ramachandran), aesthetic sense theory (Hutcheson), physiological theories (Burke), and (...) Hume's realism. (shrink)
I defend a reading of David Hume’s nominalism that he comes close to Keith Campbell's contemporary trope theory in the specific case of spatial properties. I argue that Hume's view should be construed as classifying spatial properties as Campbellian tropes (particular properties): abstract, particular, determinate and qualitatively simple properties. This has implications for reconstructing Hume's answer to the problem of universals. I argue that Hume’s account of objects resembling each other in respect of spatial properties (...) is grounded in the resemblance of tropes rather than in the resemblance of objects. (shrink)
What is an epiphenomenal property? This question needs to be settled before we can decide whether higher-level properties are epiphenomenal or not. In this paper, I offer an account of what it is for a property to have some causal power. From this, I derive a characterisation of the notion of an epiphenomenal property. I then argue that physically realized higher-level properties are not epiphenomenal because laws of nature impose causal similarities on the bearers of such properties, (...) and these similarities figure as powers in the causal profiles of these properties. (shrink)
I argue that perceptual content is always affected by the allocation of one’s attention. Perception attributes determinable and determinate properties to the perceived scene. Attention makes (or tries to make) our perceptual attribution of properties more determinate. Hence, a change in our attention changes the determinacy of the properties attributed to the perceived scene.
I argue that an adequate account of non-reductive realization must guarantee satisfaction of a certain condition on the token causal powers associated with (instances of) realized and realizing entities---namely, what I call the 'Subset Condition on Causal Powers' (first introduced in Wilson 1999). In terms of states, the condition requires that the token powers had by a realized state on a given occasion be a proper subset of the token powers had by the state that realizes it on that occasion. (...) Accounts of non-reductive realization conforming to this condition are implementing what I call 'the powers-based subset strategy'. I focus on the crucial case involving mental and brain states; the results may be generalized, as appropriate. I ﬁrst situate and motivate the strategy by attention to the problem of mental causation; I make the case, in schematic terms, that implementation of the strategy makes room (contra Kim 1989, 1993, 1998, and elsewhere) for mental states to be ontologically and causally autonomous from their realizing physical states, without inducing problematic causal overdetermination, and compatible with both Physicalism and Non-reduction; and I show that several contemporary accounts of non-reductive realization (in terms of functional realization, parthood, and the determinable/determinate relation) are plausibly seen as implementing the strategy. As I also show, implementation of the powers-based strategy does not require endorsement of any particular accounts of either properties or causation---indeed, a categoricalist contingentist Humean can implement the strategy. The schematic location of the strategy in the space of available responses to the problem of mental (more generally, higher-level) causation, as well as the fact that the schema may be metaphysically instantiated, strongly suggests that the strategy is, appropriately generalized and instantiated, sufficient and moreover necessary for non-reductive realization. I go on to defend the sufficiency and necessity claims against a variety of objections, considering, along the way, how the powers-based subset strategy fares against competing accounts of purportedly non-reductive realization in terms of supervenience, token identity, and constitution. (shrink)
This paper explores several paths a distinctive third wave of extended cognition might take. In so doing, I address a couple of shortcomings of first- and second-wave extended cognition associated with a tendency to conceive of the properties of internal and external processes as fixed and non-interchangeable. First, in the domain of cognitive transformation, I argue that a problematic tendency of the complementarity model is that it presupposes that socio-cultural resources augment but do not significantly transform the brain’s representational (...) capacities during diachronic development. In this paper I show that there is available a much more dynamical explanation—one taking the processes of the brain’s enculturation into patterned practices as transforming the brain’s representational capacities. Second, in the domain of cognitive assembly, I argue that another problematic tendency is an individualistic notion of cognitive agency, since it overlooks the active contribution of socio-cultural practices in the assembly process of extended cognitive systems. In contrast to an individualistic notion of cognitive agency, I explore the idea that it is possible to decentralize cognitive agency to include socio-cultural practices. (shrink)
Intentionalism about visual experiences is the view according to which the phenomenal character of a visual experience supervenes on the content of this experience. One of the most influential objections to this view is about blur: seeing a fuzzy contour clearly and seeing a sharp contour blurrily have different phenomenal character but the same content. I argue that this objection does not work if we understand perceptual content simply, and not particularly controversially, as partly constituted by the sum total of (...) perceptually attributed properties, some determinable, some determinate. (shrink)
The claim that ordinary ethical discourse is typically true and that ethical facts are typically knowable seems in tension with the claim that ordinary ethical discourse is about features of reality friendly to a scientific worldview. Cornell Realism attempts to dispel this tension by claiming that ordinary ethical discourse is, in fact, discourse about the same kinds of things that scientific discourse is about: natural properties. We offer two novel arguments in reply. First, we identify a key assumption that (...) we find unlikely to be true. Second, we identify two features of typical natural properties that ethical properties lack. We conclude that Cornell Realism falls short of dispelling the tension between ethical conservativism and ethical naturalism. (shrink)
This paper defends a version of the old empiricist claim that to think about unobservable physical properties (such as spin or charge), a subject must be able to think perception-based thoughts about observable properties (such as red or circularity). The central argument builds upon foundations laid down by G. E. M. Anscombe and P. F. Strawson. It bridges the gap separating these foundations and the target claim by exploiting a neglected connection between thought about properties and our (...) grasp of causation. This way of bridging the gap promises to introduce substantive constraints on right accounts of perception and perception-based thought. (shrink)
Frank Jackson has argued that, given plausible claims about supervenience, descriptive predicates and property identity, there are no irreducibly normative properties. Philosophers who think that there are such properties have made several objections to this argument. In this paper, I argue that all of these objections fail. I conclude that Jackson's argument shows that there are no irreducibly normative properties.
Speaks defends the view that propositions are properties: for example, the proposition that grass is green is the property being such that grass is green. We argue that there is no reason to prefer Speaks's theory to analogous but competing theories that identify propositions with, say, 2-adic relations. This style of argument has recently been deployed by many, including Moore and King, against the view that propositions are n-tuples, and by Caplan and Tillman against King's view that propositions are (...) facts of a special sort. We offer our argument as an objection to the view that propositions are unsaturated relations. (shrink)
In discussions of perception and its relation to knowledge, it is common to distinguish what one comes to believe on the basis of perception from the distinctively perceptual basis of one's belief. The distinction can be drawn in terms of propositional contents: there are the contents that a perceiver comes to believe on the basis of her perception, on the one hand; and there are the contents properly attributed to perception itself, on the other. Consider the content.
The necessitarian solution to the problem of induction involves two claims: first, that necessary connections are justified by an inference to the best explanation; second, that the best theory of necessary connections entails the timeless uniformity of nature. In this paper, I defend the second claim. My arguments are based on considerations from the metaphysics of laws, properties, and fundamentality.
While it is well known that the early Heidegger distinguishes between different ‘kinds of being’ and identifies various ‘structures’ that compose them, there has been little discussion about what these kinds and structures of being are. This paper defends the ‘Property Thesis’, the position that kinds of being (and their structures) are properties of the entities that have them. I give two arguments for this thesis. The first is grounded in the fact that Heidegger refers to kinds and structures (...) of being as ‘characteristics’ and ‘determinations’, which are just two different words for ‘properties’, in the broadest senses of these terms. The second argument is based on the fact that kinds and structures of being play three roles that properties are supposed to play: they are what account for similarities between things, they are what predicates express, and they are what abstract nouns refer to. (shrink)
Both common sense and dominant traditions in art criticism and philosophical aesthetics have it that aesthetic features or properties are perceived. However, there is a cast of reasons to be sceptical of the thesis. This paper defends the thesis—that aesthetic properties are sometimes represented in perceptual experience—against one of those sceptical opponents. That opponent maintains that perception represents only low-level properties, and since all theorists agree that aesthetic properties are not low-level properties, perception does not (...) represent aesthetic properties. I offer a novel argument—what I call the argument from seeing-as—against that sceptic which moves from consideration of ambiguous figures to consideration of visual art. It concludes that aesthetic properties are sometimes perceived and delivers a general lesson for philosophy of perception. Contrary to extant theories of rich perceptual content, aesthetic properties are far better candidates for high-level perceptual contents than standardly theorized rich contents like natural kinds. (shrink)
Researchers working on children's moral understanding maintain that the child's capacity to distinguish morality from convention shows that children regard moral violations as objectively wrong. Education in the moral domain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). However, one traditional way to cast the issue of objectivism is to focus not on conventionality, but on whether moral properties depend on our responses, as with properties like icky and fun. This paper argues that the moral/conventional task is inadequate for assessing whether children (...) regard moral properties as response-dependent. Unfortunately, children's understanding of response-dependent properties has been neglected in recent research. Two experiments are reported showing that children are more likely to treat properties like fun and icky as response-dependent than moral properties like good and bad. Hence, this helps support the claim that children are moral objectivists. (shrink)
The interpretation of Lewis‘s doctrine of natural properties is difficult and controversial, especially when it comes to the bearers of natural properties. According to the prevailing reading – the minimalist view – perfectly natural properties pertain to the micro-physical realm and are instantiated by entities without proper parts or point-like. This paper argues that there are reasons internal to a broadly Lewisian kind of metaphysics to think that the minimalist view is fundamentally flawed and that a liberal (...) view, according to which natural properties are instantiated at several or even at all levels of reality, should be preferred. Our argument proceeds by reviewing those core principles of Lewis‘s metaphysics that are most likely to constrain the size of the bearers of natural properties: the principle of Humean supervenience, the principle of recombination in modal realism, the hypothesis of gunk, and the thesis of composition as identity. (shrink)
Dispositional essentialism maintains that all sparse properties are essentially powerful. Two conceptions of sparse properties appear compatible with dispositional essentialism: sparse properties as pure powers or as powerful qualities. This paper compares the two views, criticizes the powerful qualities view, and then develops a new theory of pure powers, termed Point Theory. This theory neutralizes the main advantage powerful qualities appear to possess over pure powers—explaining the existence of powers during latency periods. The paper discusses the relation (...) between powers and space-time points, whether pure powers need to occupy space, and how to account for the movement of pure powers through space-time. Given Point Theory, dispositional essentialists should maintain that sparse properties are pure powers. (shrink)
This paper introduces the term "Hempel's Dilemma" to refer to the following challenge to any formulation of physicalism that appeals to the content of physics: if physical properties are those mentioned as such in current physics, then physicalism is probably false; but if they are those mentioned as such in a completed physics, then, since we have no idea what completed physics will look like, the resulting formulation of physicalism will lack content that is determinable by us now. (...) It shows how the first horn of Hempel's Dilemma can be avoided. The key is an account of what is required for the acceptance of physicalism according to which to accept physicalism does not require assigning to physicalism a high probability, merely a higher probability than is assigned to any of its relevant rivals. This account of acceptance is shown to satisfy all the intuitive demands of the scientific realist, so that to be a physicalist is simply to be a scientific realist regarding physicalism. (shrink)
I aim to synthesize two issues within theistic metaphysics. The first concerns the metaphysics of creaturely properties and, more specifically, the nature of unshareable properties, or tropes. The second concerns the metaphysics of providence and, more specifically, the way in which God sustains creatures, or sustenance. I propose that creaturely properties, understood as what I call modifier tropes, are identical with divine acts of sustenance, understood as acts of property-conferral. I argue that this *theistic conferralism* is attractive (...) because it integrates trope theory and the doctrine of sustenance in a mutually enhancing way. Taking modifier tropes to be divine acts mitigates certain weaknesses of trope theory and safeguards divine sustenance from the threat of both deism and occasionalism. (shrink)