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)
This paper pulls together three debates fundamental in metaphysics and proposes a novel unified approach to them. The three debates are (i) between bundle theory and substrate theory about the nature of objects, (ii) dispositionalism and categoricalism about the nature of properties, and (iii) regularity theory and production theory about the nature of causation. The first part of the paper (§§2-4) suggests that although these debates are metaphysical, the considerations motivating the competing approaches in each debate tend to be (...) epistemological. The second part (§§5-6) argues that the two underlying epistemological pictures supporting competing views lead to highly unsatisfying conceptions of the world. The final part (§§7-10) proposes an alternative epistemological picture, which I call ‘introverted empiricism,’ and presents the way it provides for a more satisfying grasp of the ultimate nature of objects, properties, and causation. It is a consequence of this alternative picture that there is a kind of intimate self-understanding that underlies our understanding of the deep nature of reality. (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)
There is a puzzle concerning the essences of fundamental entities that arises from considerations about essence, on one hand, and fundamentality, on the other. The Essence-Dependence Link (EDL) says that if x figures in the essence of y, then y is dependent upon x. EDL is prima facie plausible in many cases, especially those involving derivative entities. But consider the property negative charge. A negatively charged object exhibits certain behaviors that a positively charged object does not: it moves away from (...) other negatively charged objects, towards positively charged objects, etc. It is commonly thought that negative charge disposes its bearer to move away from other negatively charged objects, towards positively charged objects, etc. But if negative charge is fundamental, then no other entities—including the property positive charge—can figure in its essence. We thus have a prima facie puzzle: How can we say anything interesting about the essences of fundamental entities without running afoul of EDL? In this paper, I present and discuss the consequences of EDL for the debate between causal essentialists and quidditists about properties, and propose solutions to the puzzle. (shrink)
Since the publication of David Lewis's ''New Work for a Theory of Universals,'' the distinction between properties that are fundamental – or perfectly natural – and those that are not has become a staple of mainstream metaphysics. Plausible candidates for perfect naturalness include the quantitative properties posited by fundamental physics. This paper argues for two claims: (1) the most satisfying account of quantitative properties employs higher-order relations, and (2) these relations must be perfectly natural, for otherwise the (...) perfectly natural properties cannot play the roles in metaphysical theorizing as envisaged by Lewis. (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)
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.
It is widely agreed upon that aesthetic properties, such as grace, balance, and elegance, are perceived. I argue that aesthetic properties are experientially attributed to some non‐perceptible objects. For example, a mathematical proof can be experienced as elegant. In order to give a unified explanation of the experiential attribution of aesthetic properties to both perceptible and non‐perceptible objects, one has to reject the idea that aesthetic properties are perceived. I propose an alternative view: the affective account. (...) I argue that the standard case of experiential aesthetic property attribution is affective experience. (shrink)
Two grams mass, three coulombs charge, five inches long – these are examples of quantitative properties. Quantitative properties have certain structural features that other sorts of properties lack. What are the metaphysical underpinnings of quantitative structure? This paper considers several accounts of quantity and assesses the merits of each.
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)
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.
This paper provides an analysis of the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction, as applied both to properties and to relations. In contrast to other accounts, the approach taken here locates the source of a property’s intrinsicality or extrinsicality in the manner in which that property is ‘logically constituted’, and thus – plausibly – in its nature or essence, rather than in e.g. its modal profile. Another respect in which the present proposal differs from many extant analyses lies in the fact that it (...) does not seek to analyse the ‘global’ distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties on the basis of the ‘local’ distinction between having a property intrinsically and having it extrinsically. Instead, the latter distinction is explicated on the basis of the former. (shrink)
Jonathan Dancy thinks that there are irreducibly normative properties. Frank Jackson has given a well-known argument against this view, and I have elsewhere defended this argument against many objections, including one made by Dancy. But Dancy remains unconvinced. In this chapter, I hope to convince him.
This article aims to clarify how aspects of current chemical understanding relate to some important contemporary problems of philosophy. The first section points out that the long-running philosophical debates concerning how properties stay together in substances have neglected the important topic of structure-determining closure. The second part describes several chemically-important types of closure and the third part shows how such closures ground the properties of chemical substances. The fourth section introduces current discussions of structural realism (SR) and contextual (...) emergence: the final sections reconsider the coherence of the properties of substances and concludes that recognition that structures qualify as determinants of specific outcomes—as ‘causes’ as that designation is used in Standard English—clarifies how properties stay together in chemical entities, and by analogy, how characteristics cohere in ordinary items. (shrink)
David Lewis’s arguments against magical ersatzism are notoriously puzzling. Untangling different strands in those arguments is useful for bringing out what he thought was wrong with not just one style of theory about possible worlds, but with much of the contemporary metaphysics of abstract objects. After setting out what I take Lewis’s arguments to be and how best to resist them, I consider the application of those arguments to general theories of properties and relations. The constraints Lewis motivates turn (...) out to yield an argument for concretism about possible individuals that is quite different from the better-known Lewisian arguments for that position. The discussion also touches on the puzzling question of whether things are the way they are because of the properties they have, or are the properties and relations the way they are because of the things that have them. (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)
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)
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)
The most important question concerning picture perception is: what perceptual state are we in when we see an object in a picture? In order to answer this question, philosophers have used the results of the two visual systems model, according to which our visual system can be divided into two streams, a ventral stream for object recognition, allowing one to perceive from an allocentric frame of reference, and a dorsal stream for visually guided motor interaction, thus allowing one to perceive (...) from an egocentric frame of reference. Following this model, philosophers denied that we can be in a dorsal perceptual state when perceiving a depicted object. This is because a depicted object is not physically graspable or manipulable and, in turn, it cannot be egocentrically localized, as a normal object, by the dorsal stream. Thus, the impossibility of manipulating depicted objects and of localizing them from an egocentric frame of reference has led some people to be sceptical about the possibility of a representation of action properties in the perception of objects in pictures, which pertains to the dorsal visual system. The aim of the present paper is to show that it is possible for the depicted object to be represented by dorsal perception. That means that we can ascribe action properties to depicted objects as well, even if depicted objects cannot be egocentrically localized—at least, not as much as normal objects can. (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)
This book aims to develop a philosophical theory of extrinsic properties – of properties whose instantiation by an object does not only depend on what the object itself is like, but also on features of its environment. Various accounts of the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction are analysed in detail, and it is argued that the most promising approach to defining this distinction is to consider extrinsic properties as a particular type of relational property. Moreover, it is shown that two (...) key notions in the metaphysics of properties, the supervenience relation and the dispositional/categorical distinction, whose scope is usually restricted to intrinsic properties, can fruitfully be applied to extrinsic properties as well. (shrink)
Whether we perceive high-level properties is presently a source of controversy. A promising test case for whether we do is aesthetic perception. Aesthetic properties are distinct from low-level properties, like shape and colour. Moreover, some of them, e.g. being serene and being handsome, are properties we appear to perceive. Aesthetic perception also shares a similarity with gestalt effects, e.g. seeing-as, in that aesthetic properties, like gestalt phenomena, appear to ‘emerge’ from low-level properties. Gestalts effects, (...) of course, are widely observed, which raises the question: do gestalt effects make it plausible that we perceive high-level aesthetic properties? Contra Stokes, this paper argues that they don’t. This is interesting in its own right, but it also points to a more general lesson, namely we should resist the temptation to appeal to gestalt effects to argue for high-level perception. (shrink)
Powers are popularly assumed to be distinct from, and dependent upon, inert qualities, mainly because it is believed that qualities have their nature independently of other properties while powers have their nature in virtue of a relation to distinct manifestation property. George Molnar and Alexander Bird, on the other hand, characterize powers as intrinsic and relational. The difficulties of reconciling the characteristics of being intrinsic and at the same time essentially related are illustrated in this paper and it is (...) argued that the reasons for thinking of powers as essentially relational are based on misguided epistemological consideration. Finally, I present a way of thinking of fundamental properties as primitive natures that we can only understand in virtue of what they do but which we should not think of as being ontologically constituted by these doings. According to this view, properties are both qualities and powers. (shrink)
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)
The distinction between qualitative properties like mass and shape and non-qualitative properties like being Napoleon and being next to Obama is important, but remains largely unexamined. After discussing its theoretical significance and cataloguing various kinds of non-qualitative properties, I survey several views about the nature of this distinction and argue that all proposed reductive analyses of this distinction are unsatisfactory. I then defend primitivism, according to which the distinction resists reductive analysis.
I call anti-resemblism the thesis that independently of any contextual specification there is no determinate fact of the matter about the comparative overall similarity of things. Anti-resemblism plays crucial roles in the philosophy of David Lewis. For instance, Lewis has argued that his counterpart theory is anti-essentialist on the grounds that counterpart relations are relations of comparative overall similarity and that anti-resemblism is true. After Lewis committed himself to a form of realism about natural properties he maintained that anti-resemblism (...) is true about the relations of overall similarity that enter his counterpart theory and his analysis of counterfactuals. However, in this article I argue that Lewis’s account of degrees of naturalness for properties combined with his modal realism entails that anti-resemblism is false. The Lewisian must amend Lewis’s system if she aims to benefit from the alleged virtues of anti-resemblism. I consider two ways of amending it, neither of which is a free lunch. (shrink)
Some philosophers think that normative properties are identical to descriptive properties. In this paper, I argue that this entails that it is possible to say which descriptive properties normative properties are identical to. I argue that Frank Jackson's argument to show that this is possible fails, and that the objections to this argument show that it is impossible to say which descriptive properties normative properties are identical to. I conclude that normative properties are (...) not identical to descriptive properties. I then show that if we combine this conclusion with the conclusion of a different argument that Jackson has given to show that there are no irreducibly normative properties, it follows that there are no normative properties at all. (shrink)
This paper puts forward the hypothesis that the distinctive features of quantum statistics are exclusively determined by the nature of the properties it describes. In particular, all statistically relevant properties of identical quantum particles in many-particle systems are conjectured to be irreducible, ‘inherent’ properties only belonging to the whole system. This allows one to explain quantum statistics without endorsing the ‘Received View’ that particles are non-individuals, or postulating that quantum systems obey peculiar probability distributions, or assuming that (...) there are primitive restrictions on the range of states accessible to such systems. With this, the need for an unambiguously metaphysical explanation of certain physical facts is acknowledged and satisfied. (shrink)
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.
What has the dispositional analysis of properties and laws (e.g. Molnar, Powers, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003; Mumford, Laws in nature, Routledge London, 2004; Bird, Nature’s metaphysics, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2007) to offer to the scientific understanding of physical properties?—The article provides an answer to this question for the case of spacetime points and their metrical properties in General Relativity. The analysis shows that metrical properties are not ‘powers’, i.e. they cannot be understood as producing the (...) effects of spacetime on matter with metaphysical necessity. Instead they possess categorical characteristics which, in connection with specific laws, explain those effects. Thus, the properties of spacetime do not favor the metaphysics of powers with respect to properties and laws. (shrink)
Since Kit Fine presented his counter-examples to the standard versions of the modal view, many have been convinced that the standard versions of the modal view are not adequate. However, the scope of Fine's argument has not been fully appreciated. In this paper, I aim to carry Fine’s argument to its logical conclusion and argue that once we embrace the intuition underlying his counter-examples, we have to hold that properties obtained, totally or partially, by application of logical operations are (...) not essential to non-logical entities. I also demonstrate that most of the post-Finean versions of the modal view, which were developed to accommodate Fine’s counter-examples, entail that such properties are essential to the entities, and so fail to capture the notion of essence at issue in Fine's counter-examples. Additionally, I explore the consequence of my argument for Fine’s proposed logic of essence. The logic turns out to be inadequate in its present shape as it represents such properties to be essential to the entities. I conclude by developing a modification to the logic to overcome the shortcoming. (shrink)
This paper defends a version of the old empiricist claim that to think about unobservable physical properties a subject must be able to think perception-based thoughts about observable properties. 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)
Intentionalism—the view that the phenomenal character of an experience is wholly determined by its representational content—is very attractive. Unfortunately, it’s in conflict with some quite robust intuitions about the possibility of phenomenal spectrum inversion without misrepresentation. Faced with such a problem, there are the usual three options—reject intentionalism, discount the intuitions and deny that spectrum inversion without misrepresentation is possible, or find a way to reconcile the two by dissolving the apparent conflict. Sydney Shoemaker’s (1994) introduction of appearance properties (...) is a particularly ingenious way of pursuing the third strategy, by maintaining that there is a representational difference between the phenomenally spectrum-inverted subjects. In introducing appearance properties, Shoemaker does two things: he identifies a theoretical role for some family of properties to play, and he suggests a family of properties as candidates to play that role. I’ll argue that his proposed candidates do not play the role as well as we would like, suggest some new candidates, and argue that they do a better job of playing the role. The reason for the question mark in the title is that, if I’m right, it turns out that the best candidates to play the appearance property role aren’t properties. (shrink)
The world is populated with many different objects, to which we often attribute properties: we say, for example, that grass is green, that the earth is spherical, that humans are animals, and that murder is wrong. We also take it that these properties are things in their own right: there is something in which being green, or spherical, or an animal, or wrong, consists, and that certain scientific or normative projects are engaged in uncovering the essences of such (...)properties. In light of this, an important question arises: what kind of things should we take properties themselves to be? -/- In Properties, Douglas Edwards gives an engaging, accessible, and up-to-date introduction to the many theories of properties available. Edwards charts the central positions in the debate over properties, including the views that properties are universals, that properties are constructed from tropes, and that properties are classes of objects, and assesses the benefits and disadvantages of each. Attempts to deny the existence of properties are also considered, along with ‘pluralist’ proposals, which aim to accommodate the different kinds of properties that are found in various philosophical debates. -/- Properties is the ideal introduction to this topic and will be an invaluable resource for scholars and students wishing to learn more about the important roles that properties have played, and continue to play, in contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
I present in this article a new theory of structural properties or, more precisely, of structural kinds, such as being methane. According to this theory, structural kinds are kinds that are both emergent and sustained in their existence. In the first section, I introduce structural properties and four problems that affect the most widely held conception of them, namely, the pictorial conception. In the second section, I introduce some theses about emergence, powers, emergent powers, relations and structures that (...) I have defended in other works and that constitute the basis on which my theory of structural kinds is built up. In the third section, I eventually develop my theory in full detail and show how it can solve the problems mentioned in the second section. Finally, in the fourth section, I face five objections and briefly compare my account with some other accounts of structural properties. (shrink)
The paper aims to develop a resemblance theory of properties that technically improves on past versions. The theory is based on a comparative resemblance predicate. In combination with other resources, it solves the various technical problems besetting resemblance nominalism. The paper’s second main aim is to indicate that previously proposed resemblance theories that solve the technical problems, including the comparative theory, are nominalistically unacceptable and have controversial philosophical commitments.
In “Properties and the Interpretation of Second-Order Logic” Bob Hale develops and defends a deflationary conception of properties where a property with particular satisfaction conditions actually exists if and only if it is possible that a predicate with those same satisfaction conditions exists. He argues further that, since our languages are finitary, there are at most countably infinitely many properties and, as a result, the account fails to underwrite the standard semantics for second-order logic. Here a more (...) lenient version of the view is explored, which allows for the possibility of countably infinite predicates understood as the product of linguistic supertasks. This enriched deflationist account of properties—the Infinitary Deflationary Conception of Existence—supports the standard semantics for models with countable first-order domains, and allows one to prove the categoricity of the second-order Peano axioms. (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 determinable properties, like red, and their determinates, like scarlet (see Armstrong 1978, volume II). Sometimes determinable properties 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 determinable properties. 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 determinable properties 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)
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)
I put in question in this article the existence of conjunctive properties. In the second section, after having provided a characterization of conjunctive properties, I develop an argument based on the principle of ontological parsimony: if we accept that there are conjunctive properties in the universe then, ceteris paribus, our ontology turns out to be less ontologically parsimonious than if we reject them. Afterwards, in the third section, I distinguish between maximalist and non-maximalist and reductionist and non-reductionist (...) theories of conjunctive properties., as well as between reductionist and non-reductionist theories that reject conjunctive properties. Such distinctions help to clarify the options at hand when accepting or rejecting conjunctive properties. In light of these distinctions, I then tackle two objections against the argument from ontological parsimony. Finally, in the remaining sections, I deal with two arguments defended by D. M. Armstrong for the existence of conjunctive properties: the argument from infinite complexity and the argument from causal powers. I show that there are several ways to resist these arguments and their conclusion. (shrink)
Quine’s most important charge against second-, and more generally, higher-order logic is that it carries massive existential commitments. The force of this charge does not depend upon Quine’s questionable assimilation of second-order logic to set theory. Even if we take second-order variables to range over properties, rather than sets, the charge remains in force, as long as properties are individuated purely extensionally. I argue that if we interpret them as ranging over properties more reasonably construed, in accordance (...) with an abundant or deflationary conception, Quine’s charge can be resisted. This interpretation need not be seen as precluding the use of model-theoretic semantics for second-order languages; but it will preclude the use of the standard semantics, along with the more general Henkin semantics, of which it is a special case. To that extent, the approach I recommend has revisionary implications which some may find unpalatable; it is, however, compatible with the quite different special case in which the second-order variables are taken to range over definable subsets of the first-order domain, and with respect to such a semantics, some important metalogical results obtainable under the standard semantics may still be obtained. In my final section, I discuss the relations between second-order logic, interpreted as I recommend, and a strong version of schematic ancestral logic promoted in recent work by Richard Heck. I argue that while there is an interpretation on which Heck’s logic can be contrasted with second-order logic as standardly interpreted, when it is so interpreted, its differences from the more modest form of second-order logic I advocate are much less substantial, and may be largely presentational. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker's "Subset Account" offers a new take on determinable properties 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 determinable properties 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)
In a recent paper, Bird (in: Groff (ed.) Revitalizing causality: Realism about causality in philosophy and social science, 2007 ) has argued that some higher-order properties—which he calls “evolved emergent properties”—can be considered causally efficacious in spite of exclusion arguments. I have previously argued in favour of a similar position. The basic argument is that selection processes do not take physical categorical properties into account. Rather, selection mechanisms are only tuned to what such properties can do, (...) i.e., to their causal powers. This picture seems ultimately untenable in the light of further exclusion problems; but at the same time, it meets our explanatory demands. My purpose is therefore to show that there is a real antinomy with regard to evolved emergent properties. I develop a physicalist exclusion argument and then I go on to consider an argument that seems to establish that evolved emergent properties are causally efficacious, and propose a compatibilist solution. Finally, I very briefly consider what the proposed model may imply for the issue of mental causation. (shrink)
We examine the pros and cons of color realism, exposing some desiderata on a theory of color: the theory should render colors as scientifically legitimate and correctly individuated, and it should explain how we have veridical color experiences. We then show that these desiderata can by met by treating colors as properties of the special sciences. According to our view, some of the major as properties of the special sciences. According to our view, some of the major disputes (...) in the literature about color -- anti-realism versus dispositionalism versus reductionism -- are not well-founded at this stage of scientific inquiry. Our account of color is designed to be of use in the sciences and as such is driven largely by considerations of what the various sciences need in order to proceed appropriately. We argue that a scientific theory of colors need not regard colors as anything more than high-level statistical constructs built out of correlations between color experiences and other phenomena. (shrink)
The aim of this essay is to show that phenomenal properties are contentless modes of appearances of representational properties. The essay initiates with examination of the first-person perspective of the conscious observer according to which a “reference to I” with respect to the observation of experience is determined. A distinction is then drawn between the conscious observer and experience as observed, according to which, three distinct modifications of experience are delineated. These modifications are then analyzed with respect to (...) the content of experience and from this the ground of the distinction between phenomenal and representational properties is identified. (shrink)
Few philosophers believe in the existence of so-called negative properties. Indeed, many find it mind-boggling just to imagine such properties. In contrast, I think not only that negative properties are quite imaginable, but also that there are good reasons for believing that some such properties actually exist. In this paper, I want to defend the reality and irreducibility, or genuineness, as I call it, of negative properties. After briefly presenting the idea of a negative property, (...) I collect commonly invoked tests for the realness of things and attend to the question whether negative properties pass any of these. Next, I try to segregate the many different notions of irreducibility, probing whether negative properties can be reckoned to be genuine in any sense of the word. In the final section, I rebut some frequent objections raised against negative properties. _German_ Wenige Philosophen glauben an die Existenz sogenannter negativer Eigenschaften. Die meisten halten solche Eigenschaften sogar für unvorstellbar. Ich dagegen halte negative Eigenschaften nicht nur für denkbar, sondern glaube darüber hinaus, dass solche Eigenschaften tatsächlich existieren. In diesem Aufsatz möchte ich die Wirklichkeit und Irreduzibilität – oder Echtheit – negativer Eigenschaften verteidigen. Nachdem ich kurz die Idee einer negativen Eigenschaft vorstelle, ziehe ich geläufige Kriterien für die Realität von Dingen heran und überprüfe, ob negative Eigenschaften diese erfüllen. Als nächstes unterscheide ich verschiedene Begriffe von Irreduzibilität, um zu überprüfen, ob negative Eigenschaften als echt in irgendeinem Sinn des Wortes betrachtet werden können. Im letzten Abschnitt möchte ich einige häufige Einwände gegen negative Eigenschaften zurückweisen. (shrink)
It has been maintained by such philosophers as Quine and Goodman that purely ‘extensional’ language suffices for all the purposes of properly formalized scientific discourse. Those entities that were traditionally called ‘universals’ — properties, concepts, forms, etc. — are rejected by these extensionalist philosophers on the ground that ‘the principle of individuation is not clear’. It is conceded that science requires that we allow something tantamount to quantification over non-particulars (or, anyway, over things that are not material objects, not (...) space-time points, not physical fields, etc.), but, the extensionalists contend, quantification over sets serves the purposes nicely. The ‘ontology’ of modern science, at least as Quine formalizes it, comprises material objects (or, alternatively, space-time points), sets of material objects, sets of sets of material objects,... but no properties, concepts,or forms. Let us thus examine the question: Can the principle of individuation for properties ever be made clear? (shrink)