Property (philosophy)

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In mathematics, logic, and philosophy, a property is a characteristic of an object; a red object is said to have the property of redness. The property may be considered a form of object in its own right, able to possess other properties. A property, however, differs from individual objects in that it may be instantiated, and often in more than one thing. It differs from the logical/mathematical concept of class by not having any concept of extensionality, and from the philosophical concept of class in that a property is considered to be distinct from the objects which possess it. Understanding how different individual entities (or particulars) can in some sense have some of the same properties is the basis of the problem of universals. The terms attribute and quality have similar meanings.

Mathematics Field of study concerning quantity, patterns and change

Mathematics includes the study of such topics as quantity, structure, space, and change.

Logic the systematic study of the form of arguments

Logic is the systematic study of the form of valid inference, and the most general laws of truth. A valid inference is one where there is a specific relation of logical support between the assumptions of the inference and its conclusion. In ordinary discourse, inferences may be signified by words such as therefore, hence, ergo, and so on.

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Contents

Metaphysical Debates about the Nature of Properties

In modern analytic philosophy there are several debates about the fundamental nature of properties. These center around questions such as: Are properties real? Are they categorical or dispositional? Are properties physical or mental?

Analytic philosophy style of philosophy

Analytic philosophy is a style of philosophy that became dominant in the Western world at the beginning of the 20th century. The term can refer to one of several things:

Realism vs. Anti-Realism [1]

A realist about properties asserts that properties have genuine existence. One way to spell this out is in terms of exact, repeatable, instantiations known universals. The other realist position asserts that properties are particulars(tropes), which are unique instantiations in individual objects that merely resemble one another to various degrees.

The anti-realist position, often referred to as nominalism claims that properties are names we attach to particulars. The properties themselves have no existence.

In metaphysics, nominalism is a philosophical view which denies the existence of universals and abstract objects, but affirms the existence of general or abstract terms and predicates. There are at least two main versions of nominalism. One version denies the existence of universals – things that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things. The other version specifically denies the existence of abstract objects – objects that do not exist in space and time.

Categoricalism vs. Dispositionalism [2]

According to the categoricalist, dispositions reduce to causal bases. The fragility of a wine glass, for example, is not a property that exists in the glass. Rather it can be explained by the categorical property of the glass's micro-structural composition.

Dispositionalism, in turn, asserts that a property is nothing more that a set of causal powers. [3] Fragility, according to this view, identifies a real property of the glass (e.g. to shatter when dropped on a sufficiently hard surface).

Several intermediary positions exist. [4] The Identity view that states that properties are both categorical(qualitative) and dispositional, they are just two ways of viewing the same property. One hybrid view claims that some properties are categorical and some are dispositional. A second hybrid view claims that properties have both a categorical(qualitative) and dispositional part, but that these are distinct ontological parts.

Physicalism, Idealism, and Property dualism

Property dualism: the exemplification of two kinds of property by one kind of substance Property dualism.jpg
Property dualism: the exemplification of two kinds of property by one kind of substance

Property dualism describes a category of positions in the philosophy of mind which hold that, although the world is constituted of just one kind of substance—the physical kind—there exist two distinct kinds of properties: physical properties and mental properties. In other words, it is the view that non-physical, mental properties (such as beliefs, desires and emotions) inhere in some physical substances (namely brains).

This stands in contrast to physicalism and idealism. Physicalism claims that all properties, include mental properties, ultimately reduce to, or supervene on, physical properties. [5] Metaphysical Idealism, by contrast, claims that "something mental (the mind, spirit, reason, will) is the ultimate foundation of all reality, or even exhaustive of reality." [6]

Essential and accidental properties

In classical Aristotelian terminology, a property (Greek: idion, Latin: proprium) is one of the predicables. It is a non-essential quality of a species (like an accident), but a quality which is nevertheless characteristically present in members of that species. For example, "ability to laugh" may be considered a special characteristic of human beings. However, "laughter" is not an essential quality of the species human, whose Aristotelian definition of "rational animal" does not require laughter. Therefore, in the classical framework, properties are characteristic qualities that are not truly required for the continued existence of an entity but are, nevertheless, possessed by the entity.

Determinate and determinable properties

A property may be classified as either determinate or determinable. A determinable property is one that can get more specific. For example, color is a determinable property because it can be restricted to redness, blueness, etc. [7] A determinate property is one that cannot become more specific. This distinction may be useful in dealing with issues of identity. [8]

Lovely and suspect qualities

Daniel Dennett distinguishes between lovely properties (such as loveliness itself), which, although they require an observer to be recognised, exist latently in perceivable objects; and suspect properties which have no existence at all until attributed by an observer (such as being suspected of a crime) [9]

Properties and predicates

The ontological fact that something has a property is typically represented in language by applying a predicate to a subject. However, taking any grammatical predicate whatsoever to be a property, or to have a corresponding property, leads to certain difficulties, such as Russell's paradox and the Grelling–Nelson paradox. Moreover, a real property can imply a host of true predicates: for instance, if X has the property of weighing more than 2 kilos, then the predicates "..weighs more than 1.9 kilos", "..weighs more than 1.8 kilos", etc., are all true of it. Other predicates, such as "is an individual", or "has some properties" are uninformative or vacuous. There is some resistance to regarding such so-called "Cambridge properties" as legitimate. [10]

Intrinsic and extrinsic properties

An intrinsic property is a property that an object or a thing has of itself, independently of other things, including its context. An extrinsic (or relational) property is a property that depends on a thing's relationship with other things. The latter is sometimes also called an attribute, since the value of that property is given to the object via its relation with another object. (See the etymology of the word on Wiktionary.) For example, mass is a physical intrinsic property of any physical object, whereas weight is an extrinsic property that varies depending on the strength of the gravitational field in which the respective object is placed. other examples are the name of a person (an attribute given by the person's parents) and the weight or mass of the person.

Relations

A relation is often considered[ by whom? ] to be a more general case of a property. Relations are true of several particulars, or shared amongst them. Thus the relation ".. is taller than .." holds "between" two individuals, who would occupy the two ellipses ('..'). Relations can be expressed by N-place predicates, where N is greater than 1.

It is widely accepted[ by whom? ] that there are at least some apparent relational properties which are merely derived from non-relational (or 1-place) properties. For instance "A is heavier than B" is a relational predicate, but it is derived from the two non relational properties: the mass of A and the mass of B. Such relations are called external relations, as opposed to the more genuine internal relations. [11] Some philosophers believe that all relations are external, leading to a scepticism about relations in general, on the basis that external relations have no fundamental existence.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Existence objective persistence independent of ones presence; state of being, existing, or occurring; beinghood

Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality.

In philosophy, Idealism is the group of metaphysical philosophies that assert that reality, or reality as humans can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, Idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In contrast to Materialism, Idealism asserts the primacy of consciousness as the origin and prerequisite of material phenomena. According to this view, consciousness exists before and is the pre-condition of material existence. Consciousness creates and determines the material and not vice versa. Idealism believes consciousness and mind to be the origin of the material world and aims to explain the existing world according to these principles.

Metaphysics Branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of reality

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between possibility and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural". It has been suggested that the term might have been coined by a first century CE editor who assembled various small selections of Aristotle’s works into the treatise we now know by the name Metaphysics.

In metaphysics, the problem of universals refers to the question of whether properties exist, and if so, what they are. Properties are qualities or relations that two or more entities have in common. The various kinds of properties, such as qualities and relations, are referred to as universals. For instance, one can imagine three cup holders on a table that have in common the quality of being circular or exemplifying circularity, or two daughters that have in common being the female offsprings of Frank. There are many such properties, such as being human, red, male or female, liquid, big or small, taller than, father of, etc. While philosophers agree that human beings talk and think about properties, they disagree on whether these universals exist in reality or merely in thought and speech.

Philosophy of perception

The philosophy of perception is concerned with the nature of perceptual experience and the status of perceptual data, in particular how they relate to beliefs about, or knowledge of, the world. Any explicit account of perception requires a commitment to one of a variety of ontological or metaphysical views. Philosophers distinguish internalist accounts, which assume that perceptions of objects, and knowledge or beliefs about them, are aspects of an individual's mind, and externalist accounts, which state that they constitute real aspects of the world external to the individual. The position of naïve realism—the 'everyday' impression of physical objects constituting what is perceived—is to some extent contradicted by the occurrence of perceptual illusions and hallucinations and the relativity of perceptual experience as well as certain insights in science. Realist conceptions include phenomenalism and direct and indirect realism. Anti-realist conceptions include idealism and skepticism.

Platonic realism is a philosophical term usually used to refer to the idea of realism regarding the existence of universals or abstract objects after the Greek philosopher Plato. As universals were considered by Plato to be ideal forms, this stance is ambiguously also called Platonic idealism. This should not be confused with idealism as presented by philosophers such as George Berkeley: as Platonic abstractions are not spatial, temporal, or mental, they are not compatible with the later idealism's emphasis on mental existence. Plato's Forms include numbers and geometrical figures, making them a theory of mathematical realism; they also include the Form of the Good, making them in addition a theory of ethical realism.

Substance theory, or substance–attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears.

In metaphysics, a universal is what particular things have in common, namely characteristics or qualities. In other words, universals are repeatable or recurrent entities that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things. For example, suppose there are two chairs in a room, each of which is green. These two chairs both share the quality of "chairness", as well as greenness or the quality of being green; in other words, they share a "universal". There are three major kinds of qualities or characteristics: types or kinds, properties, and relations. These are all different types of universals.

Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent, as opposed to that which is merely imaginary. The term is also used to refer to the ontological status of things, indicating their existence. In physical terms, reality is the totality of the universe, known and unknown. Philosophical questions about the nature of reality or existence or being are considered under the rubric of ontology, which is a major branch of metaphysics in the Western philosophical tradition. Ontological questions also feature in diverse branches of philosophy, including the philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophical logic. These include questions about whether only physical objects are real, whether reality is fundamentally immaterial, whether hypothetical unobservable entities posited by scientific theories exist, whether God exists, whether numbers and other abstract objects exist, and whether possible worlds exist.

Mind–body dualism Philosophical theory that mental phenomena are non-physical and that matter exists independently of mind

Mind–body dualism, or mind–body duality, is a view in the philosophy of mind that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical, or that the mind and body are distinct and separable. Thus, it encompasses a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, and between subject and object, and is contrasted with other positions, such as physicalism and enactivism, in the mind–body problem.

In philosophy, essence is the property or set of properties that make an entity or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the entity or substance has contingently, without which the substance can still retain its identity. The concept originates rigorously with Aristotle, who used the Greek expression to ti ên einai or sometimes the shorter phrase to ti esti for the same idea. This phrase presented such difficulties for its Latin translators that they coined the word essentia to represent the whole expression. For Aristotle and his scholastic followers, the notion of essence is closely linked to that of definition.

Panpsychism

In philosophy, panpsychism is the view that consciousness, mind, or soul (psyche) is a universal and primordial feature of all things. Panpsychists see themselves as minds in a world of mind.

In philosophy, emergentism is the belief in emergence, particularly as it involves consciousness and the philosophy of mind, and as it contrasts with reductionism. A property of a system is said to be emergent if it is a new outcome of some other properties of the system and their interaction, while it is itself different from them. Emergent properties are not identical with, reducible to, or deducible from the other properties. The different ways in which this independence requirement can be satisfied lead to variant types of emergence.

In metaphysics, realism about a given object is the view that this object exists in reality independently of our conceptual scheme. In philosophical terms, these objects are ontologically independent of someone's conceptual scheme, perceptions, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc.

A disposition is a quality of character, a habit, a preparation, a state of readiness, or a tendency to act in a specified way that may be learned.

Supposition theory was a branch of medieval logic that was probably aimed at giving accounts of issues similar to modern accounts of reference, plurality, tense, and modality, within an Aristotelian context. Philosophers such as John Buridan, William of Ockham, William of Sherwood, Walter Burley, Albert of Saxony, and Peter of Spain were its principal developers. By the 14th century it seems to have drifted into at least two fairly distinct theories, the theory of "supposition proper" which included an "ampliation" and is much like a theory of reference, and the theory of "modes of supposition" whose intended function is not clear.

Philosophy of color

Within the philosophy of color, there is a dispute between color realism, the view that colors are physical properties that objects possess, and color fictionalism, a species of error theory viewing colors according to which there are no such physical properties that objects possess.

In Chinese philosophy, xin can refer to one's "disposition" or "feelings", or to one's confidence or trust in something or someone. Literally, xin (心) refers to the physical heart, though it is sometimes translated as "mind" as the ancient Chinese believed the heart was the center of human cognition. For this reason, it is also sometimes translated as "heart-mind". It has a connotation of intention, yet can be used to refer to long-term goals. Xunzi, an important early Confucian thinker, considered xin (心) to be cultivated during one's life, in contrast to innate qualities of xing, or human nature.

<i>Pramanavarttika</i>

The Pramāṇavārttika is an influential Buddhist text on pramana, a form of Indian epistemology. The Pramāṇavārttika is the magnum opus of the Indian Buddhist Dharmakirti.

References

  1. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/properties/#DisTer
  2. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/properties/#CatProVsCauPow
  3. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dispositions/#CatDisLawNat
  4. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dispositions/#CatDisLawNat
  5. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/physicalism/
  6. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/idealism/#Int
  7. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy Determinate and Determinable Properties
  8. Georges Dicker (1998). Hume's Epistemology & Metaphysics. Routledge. p. 31.|access-date= requires |url= (help)
  9. "Lovely and Suspect Qualities" . Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  10. Nelson, Michael (1 January 2012). Zalta, Edward N., ed. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy . Retrieved 3 August 2016 via Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  11. George Moore , External and Internal Relations

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