Pace Necessitism – roughly, the view that existence is not contingent – essential properties provide necessary conditions for the existence of objects. Sufficiencyproperties, by contrast, provide sufficient conditions, and individual essences provide necessary and sufficient conditions. This paper explains how these kinds of properties can be used to illuminate the ontological status of merely possible objects and to construct a respectable possibilist ontology. The paper also reviews two points of interaction between essentialism and modal logic. (...) First, we will briefly see the challenge that arises against S4 from flexible essential properties; as well as the moves available to block it. After this, the emphasis is put on the Barcan Formula (BF), and on why it is problematic for essentialists. As we will see, Necessitism can accommodate both (BF) and essential properties. What necessitists cannot do at the same time is to continue to understanding essential properties as providing necessary conditions for the existence of individuals; against what might be for some a truism. (shrink)
There are, broadly, three sorts of account of intrinsicality: ‘self-sufficiency’, ‘essentiality’ and ‘pure qualitativeness’. I argue for the last of these, and urge that we take intrinsic properties of concrete objects to be all and only those shared by actual or possible duplicates, which only differ extrinsically. This approach gains support from Francescotti’s approach: defining ‘intrinsic’ in contradistinction to extrinsic properties which ‘consist in’ relations which rule out intrinsicality. I answer Weatherson’s criticisms of Francescotti, but, to answer (...) criticisms of my own, I amend his account, proposing that possession of an extrinsic property consists in a relation to one or more actual or possible distinct concrete objects. Finally I indicate ways to avoid some apparent objections to this account. (shrink)
We study a logic for deontic necessity and sufficiency, as originally proposed in van Benthem :36–41, 1979). Building on earlier work in modal logic, we provide a sound and complete axiomatization for it, consider some standard extensions, and study other important properties. After that, we compare this logic to the logic of “obligation as weakest permission” from Anglberger et al. :807–827, 2015).
We study a logic for deontic necessity and sufficiency, as originally proposed in van Benthem :36–41, 1979). Building on earlier work in modal logic, we provide a sound and complete axiomatization for it, consider some standard extensions, and study other important properties. After that, we compare this logic to the logic of “obligation as weakest permission” from Anglberger et al. :807–827, 2015).
Possession of any actual physical property depends on the ambient conditions for its bearers, irrespective of one's particular theory of dispositions. If 'self-sufficiency' makes a property intrinsic, then, because of this dependence, things in the actual world cannot have an intrinsic physical resemblance to one another or to things in other possible worlds. Criteria for the self-sufficiency of intrinsic properties based on, or implying indifference to both 'loneliness' and 'accompaniment' entail that no self-sufficient property can require its (...) bearers to be extended in space or time, yet all physical properties of concrete objects do require this. These outcomes undermine the vindication of physicalism claimed by neo-Humeans for their metaphysical project. For physical properties dependent on ambient conditions cannot supervene on intrinsic properties independent of ambient conditions: when ambient conditions change we get a change in the former without a change in the latter. (shrink)
Chalmers argues for the following two principles: computational sufficiency and computational explanation. In this commentary I present two criticisms of Chalmers’ argument for the principle of computational sufficiency, which states that implementing the appropriate kind of computational structure suffices for possessing mentality. First, Chalmers only establishes that a system has its mental properties in virtue of the computations it performs in the trivial sense that any physical system can be described computationally to some arbitrary level of detail; (...) further argumentation is required to show that the causal topology relevant to possessing a mind actually implements computations. Second, Chalmers' account rules out plausible cases of implementation due to its requirement of an isomorphism between the state-types of a computation and the physical system implementing the computation. (shrink)
There are important cases where properties not referred to by expressions from the languages of physics are enabled in certain times and circumstances to get causal control over some kinds of physical events. I will argue that in those cases we would have to transfer to those properties the causal sufficiency to bring about these events. This would offer a principle of causal inheritance in sharp contrast with the inheritance principle for the causal sufficiency of second (...) order properties defended by Jaegwon Kim in his recent discussion of the causal exclusion problem concerning mental properties. The two principles would be very different. Their domains of application would be distinct. Kim's principle would transfer causal sufficiency to the more "concrete" physical properties able to realize mental properties understood as second order properties. Our principle would transfer causal sufficiency to the more "general" properties able to cause the relevant physical effects in the times and circumstances in question. That way, it would be possible to give a quite simple answer to the problem of causal exclusion posed by Kim in relation to mental properties. Our approach also would have very important consequences in relation to ordinary macrophysical causation. (shrink)
This paper examines the standard view of realization operative incontemporary philosophy of mind, and proposes an alternative, generalperspective on realization. The standard view can be expressed, insummary form, as the conjunction of two theses, the sufficiency thesis andthe constitutivity thesis. Physicalists of both reductionist and anti-reductionist persuasions share a conception of realization wherebyrealizations are determinative of the properties they realize and physically constitutive of the individuals with those properties. Centralto the alternative view that I explore here is (...) the idea that the requisite,metaphysically robust notion of realization is ineliminably context-sensitive. I shall argue that the sufficiency and constitutivity theses aretypically not jointly satisfied by any one candidate realizer, and that goingcontext-sensitive in one's metaphysics is preferable to the standard view.The context-sensitive views developed here are implicit in a range ofcommon views in both the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of biology,even if they have not been explicitly articulated, and even though theyundermine other views that are commonly endorsed. (shrink)
It is traditional to ascribe to Locke the view that every person who acquires natural property rights by labouring on resources is obligated to leave sufficient resources for everyone else. But during the last several decades, a number of authors have contributed to a compelling textual case against this reading. Nevertheless, Locke clearly indicates that there is something wrong with distributions in which some suffer while others thrive. But if he does not endorse the traditional proviso, what exactly is the (...) problem? In this paper, I offer a solution to this puzzle. I argue that according to Locke, once people use their natural rights to acquire large properties, many individuals are unable to enjoy the material and moral wellbeing, or “preservation,” that is the end of natural law. For even if such large properties pose no problem for material preservation, they foster arbitrary power that offends against moral preservation. (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)
In this paper, I argue that for the purposes of ordinary reasoning, sentences about properties of concrete objects can be replaced with sentences concerning how things in our universe would be related to inscriptions were there a pluriverse. Speaking loosely, pluriverses are composites of universes that collectively realize every way a universe could possibly be. As such, pluriverses exhaust all possible meanings that inscriptions could take. Moreover, because universes necessarily do not influence one another, our universe would not be (...) any different intrinsically if there were a pluriverse. These two facts enable anti-realists about abstract objects to replace, e.g., talk of anatomical features with talk of the inscriptions concerning anatomical structure that would exist were there a pluriverse. The availability of such replacements enables anti-realists to carry out essential ordinary reasoning without referring to properties, thereby making room for a consistent anti-realist worldview. The inscriptions of the would-be pluriverse are so numerous and varied that sentences about them can play the roles in ordinary reasoning served by simple sentences about properties of concrete objects. (shrink)
'Ontological dependence' is a term of philosophical jargon which stands for a rich family of properties and relations, often taken to be among the most fundamental ontological properties and relations. Notions of ontological dependence are usually thought of as 'carving reality at its ontological joints', and as marking certain forms of ontological 'non-self-sufficiency'. The use of notions of dependence goes back as far as Aristotle's characterization of substances, and these notions are still widely used to characterize other (...) concepts and to formulate metaphysical claims. This paper first gives an overview of the varieties of these notions, and then discusses some of their main applications. (shrink)
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)
Some non-reductionists claim that so-called ‘exclusion arguments’ against their position rely on a notion of causal sufficiency that is particularly problematic. I argue that such concerns about the role of causal sufficiency in exclusion arguments are relatively superficial since exclusionists can address them by reformulating exclusion arguments in terms of physical sufficiency. The resulting exclusion arguments still face familiar problems, but these are not related to the choice between causal sufficiency and physical sufficiency. The upshot (...) is that objections to the notion of causal sufficiency can be answered in a straightforward fashion and that such objections therefore do not pose a serious threat to exclusion arguments. (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)
We will show that there is a strong form of emergence in cell biology. Beginning with C.D. Broad's classic discussion of emergence, we distinguish two conditions sufficient for emergence. Emergence in biology must be compatible with the thought that all explanations of systemic properties are mechanistic explanations and with their sufficiency. Explanations of systemic properties are always in terms of the properties of the parts within the system. Nonetheless, systemic properties can still be emergent. If (...) the properties of the components within the system cannot be predicted, even in principle, from the behavior of the system's parts within simpler wholes then there also will be systemic properties which cannot be predicted, even in principle, on basis of the behavior of these parts. We show in an explicit case study drawn from molecular cell physiology that biochemical networks display this kind of emergence, even though they deploy only mechanistic explanations. This illustrates emergence and its place in nature. (shrink)
This paper defends the case against (sparse) disjunctive properties by means of four Armstrongian arguments. The first of these is a logical atomist argument from truthmaking, which is, broadly speaking, ‘Armstrongian’ (Armstrong 1997). This argument is strong – although it stands or falls with the relevant notion of truthmaking, as it were. However, three arguments, which are prima facie independent of truthmaking, can be found explicitly early in Armstrong’s middle period. Two of these early arguments face a serious objection (...) put forward forcefully by Louise Antony (2003) and Alan Penczek (1997), respectively. I consider these objections and argue that they fail. Thus, even if the argument from truthmaking is indecisive, disjunctive properties should be rejected. (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)
We will show that there is a strong form of emergence in cell biology. Beginning with C.D. Broad’s classic discussion of emergence, we distinguish two conditions sufficient for emergence. Emergence in biology must be compatible with the thought that all explanations of systemic properties are mechanistic explanations and with their sufficiency. Explanations of systemic properties are always in terms of the properties of the parts within the system. Nonetheless, systemic properties can still be emergent. If (...) the properties of the components within the system cannot be predicted, even in principle, from the behavior of the system’s parts within simpler wholes then there also will be systemic properties which cannot be predicted, even in principle, on basis of the behavior of these parts. We show in an explicit case study drawn from molecular cell physiology that biochemical networks display this kind of emergence, even though they deploy only mechanistic explanations. This illustrates emergence and its place in nature. (shrink)
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)
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
What I call Mellor’s Question is the problem of whether determinables are properties of their determinates or properties of the particulars that possess these determinates. One can distinguish two basic competing theories of determinables that address the issue, implicitly if not explicitly. On the second-order theory, determinables are second-order properties of determinate properties; on the second-level theory, determinables are first-order properties of the particulars with these determinate properties. Higher-order properties are prima facie ontologically (...) uneconomical, and in line with my general view that ontological parsimony is vital to metaphysics, I consider it highly important which of the two theories is true. Firstly, I argue that the second-level theory offers the best explanation of the explananda (though the race is close), including the important but neglected phenomenon of ‘intermediate determinables’. Secondly, by paying attention to intermediate determinables and instantiation of higher-order properties, I argue that the second-level theory also is more ontologically economical. For these two reasons, this theory is preferable. (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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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 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)
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)
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)
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.
It is proposed to conceive of representation as an emergent phenomenon that is supervenient on patterns of activity of coarsely tuned and highly redundant feature detectors. The computational underpinnings of the outlined concept of representation are (1) the properties of collections of overlapping graded receptive fields, as in the biological perceptual systems that exhibit hyperacuity-level performance, and (2) the sufficiency of a set of proximal distances between stimulus representations for the recovery of the corresponding distal contrasts between stimuli, (...) as in multidimensional scaling. The present preliminary study appears to indicate that this concept of representation is computationally viable, and is compatible with psychological and neurobiological data. (shrink)
The claim has often been made that passing the Turing Test would not be sufficient to prove that a computer program was intelligent because a trivial program could do it, namely, the “Humongous-Table (HT) Program”, which simply looks up in a table what to say next. This claim is examined in detail. Three ground rules are argued for: (1) That the HT program must be exhaustive, and not be based on some vaguely imagined set of tricks. (2) That the HT (...) program must not be created by some set of sentient beings enacting responses to all possible inputs. (3) That in the current state of cognitive science it must be an open possibility that a computational model of the human mind will be developed that accounts for at least its nonphenomenological properties. Given ground rule 3, the HT program could simply be an “optimized” version of some computational model of a mind, created via the automatic application of program-transformation rules [thus satisfying ground rule 2]. Therefore, whatever mental states one would be willing to impute to an ordinary computational model of the human psyche one should be willing to grant to the optimized version as well. Hence no one could dismiss out of hand the possibility that the HT program was intelligent. This conclusion is important because the Humongous-Table Program Argument is the only argument ever marshalled against the sufficiency of the Turing Test, if we exclude arguments that cognitive science is simply not possible. (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 paper discusses methodological guidelines for evaluating mechanistic explanations. According to current accounts, a satisfactory mechanistic explanation should include all of the relevant features of the mechanism, its component entities and activities, and their properties and organization, as well as exhibit productive continuity. It is not specified, however, how this kind of mechanistic completeness can be demonstrated. I argue that parameter sufficiency inferences based on mathematical model simulations provide a way of determining whether a mechanism capable of producing (...) the phenomenon of interest can be constructed from mechanistic components organized, acting, and having the properties described in the mechanistic explanation. (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)