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)
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 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.
The claim that ordinary ethical discourse is typically true and that ethical facts are typically knowable (ethical conservativism) seems in tension with the claim that ordinary ethical discourse is about features of reality friendly to a scientific worldview (ethical naturalism). 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 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)
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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.
The paper pinpoints certain unrecognized difficulties that surface for recombination and duplication in modal realism when we ask whether the following inter-world fixity claims hold true: 1) A property is perfectly natural in a world iff it is perfectly natural in every world where it is instantiated; 2) Something is mereologically atomic in a world iff all of its duplicates in every world are atomic. In connection to 1), the hypothesis of idlers prompts four variants of Lewis’s doctrine of perfectly (...) natural properties, all deemed unsatisfactory for the purposes of duplication and recombination. By means of 2), instead, we show that the principle of recombination does not countenance the atomicity or non-atomicity of duplicates; but it should, because it is genuinely possible that: a) something, which is atomic, is non-atomic; and b) something, which is non-atomic, is atomic. In discussing 1) and 2), the paper substantiates a tension in Lewis’s metaphysics between modal intuitions and the reliance on the natural sciences. (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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
My goal in this article is to provide support for the claim that moral flaws can be detrimental to an artwork's aesthetic value. I argue that moral flaws can become aesthetic flaws when they defeat the operation of good-making aesthetic properties. I do not defend a new theory of aesthetic properties or aesthetic value; instead, I attempt to show that on both the response-dependence and the supervenience account of aesthetic properties, moral flaws with an artwork are relevant (...) to what aesthetic properties obtain. I provide a description of the main features of both theories of aesthetic properties, and then explain how moral flaws can become aesthetic flaws on either account. I address several objections to moralism about art including the "moralistic fallacy.". (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)
What are physical objects like when they are considered independently of their causal interactions? Many think that the answer to this question involves categorical properties– properties that make contributions to their bearers that are independent of any causal interactions those objects may enter into. In this paper, I examine two challenges that this solution poses to Physicalism. The first challenge is that, given that they are distinct from any of the scientifically described causal powers that they happen to (...) convey, categorical properties will not qualify as being ‘physical’ properties. Given the right definition of ‘physical’, this challenge can be overcome. I argue, however, that the only way we can have a positive grasp of the nature of categorical properties is via ‘acquaintance’– a non-physical relation. This second challenge to Physicalism cannot be overcome.1. (shrink)
It is widely agreed that properties play causal roles: they capture the causal powers of things. But do properties have their causal roles essentially? David Lewis did not think so. He adhered to the doctrine of quidditism, namely the doctrine that the identity of properties is primitive and that they can trade their causal roles. Quidditism is controversial. But Lewis did not see why he should want to reject it. He knew that he could avoid quidditism on (...) the cheap by treating individuals and properties alike in rejecting transworld multilocation of properties and endorsing a counterpart theory for properties. But he did not see why he should want to do so. In this article, I argue that Lewis should have wanted to endorse a counterpart theory for properties in order to reject quidditism. My argument concerns resemblance relations among properties. Another constitutive role of properties is that they capture objective resemblances between their instances. The premises of my argument are intuitive claims about resemblances among some properties that Lewis held on Humean grounds. (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)
This chapter focuses on three questions concerning the aesthetic properties of music: What determines whether a musical piece has a certain aesthetic property? Is music capable of having emotional properties such as sadness? And are there aesthetic properties that music is incapable of having?
The paper discusses whether there are strictly inexpressible properties. Three main points are argued for: (i) Two different senses of ‘predicate t expresses property p ’ should be distinguished. (ii) The property of being a predicate that does not apply to itself is inexpressible in one of the senses of ‘express’, but not in the other. (iii) Since the said property is related to Grelling’s Antinomy, it is further argued that the antinomy does not imply the non-existence of that (...) property. (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)
Inspired by recent theories of embodied cognition that emphasize matters of a mind's engineering realization, I introduce "nomic-role nonreductionism" as an alternative to traditional causal-role functionalism in the philosophy of mind. Rather than identify mental properties by a theory that describes their intra-level causal roles via types of inputs, internal states, and outputs, I suggest that one identify mental properties by a more comprehensive theory that also describes inter-level realization roles via types of lower-level engineering, internal mental states, (...) and still higher-level states generated by them. I defend this position on grounds that mental properties should be understood by our best scientific theories, which at present include informatioin about mental engineering. I further defend this claim by a "parity of reasons" argument. Causal-role functionalists are justified to include sensory stimuli in their theory of mind as opposed to, say, the remote causes of sensory stimuli because the former but not the latter are items of direct mental production. But ditto for the system's physical realizations. They too directly produce mental states, only not by "causing" them but by "realizing" them. Engineering realizations and their input triggering conditions work in tandem. In addition, I tell a related but more general metaphysical story about property identity, namely, that the traditional causal theory should be replaced by a more comprehensive nomic theory that individuates properties by their intra-level causal powers as well as their inter-level realization capacities. (shrink)
A detailed theoretical analysis is presented of what five utility representations – subjective expected utility (SEU), rank-dependent (cumulative or Choquet) utility (RDU), gains decomposition utility (GDU), rank weighted utility (RWU), and a configural-weight model (TAX) that we show to be equivalent to RWU – say about a series of independence properties, many of which were suggested by M. H. Birnbaum and his coauthors. The goal is to clarify what implications to draw about the descriptive aspects of the representations from (...) data concerning these properties. The upshot is a sharp rejection of SEU and RDU and no clear choice between GDU and TAX, but a list of 8 properties is given that should receive more attention to discriminate between the latter two models. (shrink)
The predicates 'is outgrown by Theaetetus,' 'is 300 miles west of a lemur,' and 'is such that 9 is odd' denote properties, but there is a sense in which these properties are not genuine features of the objects that have them. The fact that we find these mere-Cambridge properties odd has something to do with their relational character. But relationality in itself is not an adequate criterion for property-genuineness for there are many relational properties that do (...) not qualify as mere-Cambridge. The goal of this essay is to isolate the special type of relationality needed to explain what makes a property genuine. In the process, the author evaluates causal accounts of property-genuineness, and shows how the analysis presented is superior. (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)
Thomas Hofweber argues that the thesis of direct reference is incompatible with physicalism, the claim that the nonphysical supervenes on the physical. According to Hofweber, direct reference implies that some physical objects have object-dependent properties, such as being Jones’s brother, which depend on particular objects for their existence and identity. Hofweber contends that if some physical objects have object-dependent properties, then Local-Local Supervenience (the physicalist doctrine on which he concentrates) fails. In this note, we argue that Hofweber has (...) failed to show that the possession by physical objects of object-dependent properties implies the falsity of Local-Local Supervenience. (shrink)
David Lewis advised essentialists to judge his counterpart theory a false friend. He also argued that counterpart theory needs natural properties. This essay argues that natural properties are all essentialists need to find a true friend in counterpart theory. Section one explains why Lewis takes counterpart theory to be anti-essentialist and why he thinks it needs natural properties. Section two establishes the connection between the natural properties counterpart theory needs and the essentialist consequences Lewis disavows. Section (...) three answers two objections: the first attempts to block the consequences of adding natural properties to counterpart theory; the second grants the consequences, but denies that they amount to essentialism. –Correspondence to: Todd_Buras@baylor.edu. (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)
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 discuss whether Michael Tye, in Ten Problems of Consciousness. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1966, holds that phenomenal properties are neurological properties, but that what gives them their phenomenal property names are their highly complex interconnections with other neurological properties and, most especially, subjects' surroundings. Or, alternatively, whether he holds that they are higher-level, wide functional properties in the sense of being properties of having properties that fill some specified wide or distal roles.
The aim of this paper is to defend the causal homogeneity of functional, mental properties against Kim’s attack. It is argued that (a) token identity is sufficient for mental causation, that (b) token identity implies a sort of functional reduction, but that (c) nonetheless functional, mental properties can be causally homogeneous despite being multiply realizable: multiple composition is sufficient for multiple realizability, but multiple composition does not prevent the realizers from having their pertinent effects in common. Thus, the (...) causal exclusion problem provides no argument for abandoning the position that there are functional, mental properties that are natural kind properties. (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)
Presentists face a challenge from truthmaker theory: if you hold both that the only existing objects are presently existing and that truth supervenes on being, then you will be hard pressed to identify some existent on which a given true but traceless claim about the past supervenes. One reconciliation strategy, advocated by Cameron (2011), is to appeal to distributional properties so to serve as presently existing truthmakers for past truths. I argue that a presentist ought to deny that distributional (...)properties can serve as truthmakers. (shrink)
DH Mellor has argued that there can be no negative, disjunctive, or conjunctive properties. This argument has been criticized by Alex Oliver on the grounds that it rests on a contentious identity criterion for facts, but it seems to me that a simpler criticism is available. According to this criticism, the problem with Mellor's argument is that it trades on an ambiguity in the semantics of the phrase "the fact that", according to which "the fact that" can be understood (...) as creating either an intensional or an extensional context. (shrink)
It’s a platitude that a picture is realistic to the degree to which it resembles what it represents (in relevant respects). But if properties are abundant and degrees of resemblance are proportions of properties in common, then the degree of resemblance between different particulars is constant (or undefined), which is inconsonant with the platitude. This paper argues this problem should be resolved by revising the analysis of degrees of resemblance in terms of proportion of properties in common, (...) and not by accepting a sparse theory of properties or by denying that degree of realism is degree of resemblance (in relevant respects). (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker’s causal theory of properties is an important starting place for some contemporary metaphysical perspectives concerning the nature of properties. In this paper, I discuss the causal and intrinsic criteria that Shoemaker stipulates for the identity of genuine properties and relations, and address George Molnar’s criticism that holding both criteria presents an unbridgeable hypothesis in the causal theory of properties. The causal criterion requires that properties and relations contribute to the causal powers of objects (...) if they are to be deemed genuine rather than ‘mere-Cambridge’. The intrinsic criterion requires that all genuine properties and relations be intrinsic. Molnar’s S-property argument says that these criteria conflict if one considers extrinsic spatiotemporal properties and relations to contribute causally. In this paper, I argue that a solution to the contradiction that Molnar identifies involves a denial of discreteness between objects, leading to a power holist perspective and a resulting deflationary account of intrinsicality. (shrink)
According to genuine modal realism, some things (including numbers and properties) lack distinct counterparts in different worlds. So how can they possess any of their properties contingently? Egan (2004) argues that to explain such accidental property possession, the genuine modal realist must depart from Lewis and identify properties with functions, rather than with sets of possibilia. We disagree. The genuine modal realist already has the resources to handle Egan's proposed counterexamples. As we show, she does not need (...) to amend her analysis of possibility statements, or her theory of what properties are. (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.
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)