Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Property: what can be ascribed to an object in order to distinguish it from other objects. In philosophy, there is debate about whether properties exist or whether "bare particulars" exist. Expressions for properties are predicates. Not every predicate will refer to a property. See also quantification over properties, 2nd order logic, HOL, completeness.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Robert Stalnaker on Properties - Dictionary of Arguments

I 9
Def property/Stalnaker: a) Def thin/economic definition: a property is a way in which individuals can be grouped . b) Def richer/Stalnaker: (more robust): a property is something in relation to which the individuals are grouped. To do this, we identify intrinsic properties with regions of a property-space. Important argument: since the elements of the sets are not identical with the individuals that instantiate the property, this represents the independence of properties from their instantiation. ((s) So Stalnaker believes that properties also exist if they are not instantiated).
I 75
Modal Logic/ML/semantics/extensional/Stalnaker: e.g. property: a property is represented as a singular propositional function which takes an individual as an argument and delivers a proposition as a value. Equivalent to this: property: a property is a function that takes a possible world as an argument and delivers a set of individuals as a value. It is therefore intuitively a selection rule for a class of individuals, given the facts and vice versa: a selection selective procedure for a class of individuals is a property of the selected individuals.
Problem: there is no extensional equivalent to the distinction between referential and purely qualitative properties - unlike with the distinction between essential and accidental ones. Referential properties: referential properties are defined in terms of the individuals that they have.
Wrong solution: to stipulate that only accidental propositions may be selected for atomic predicates. This does not prevent that essential attributions could be true. It prevents only that they can be expressed.
Anti-essentialism/solution: the property must be defined independently of the possible worlds and the individuals.
I 78
Intrinsic Property/bare particular/theory: to identify an intrinsic property we must distinguish possible world-indexed, time-indexed and referential properties from them. These do not correspond to any particular regions in the logical space, e.g. having the same weight as Babe Ruth - this is how we can represent anti-essentialism.
I 79
Kripke, early: Babe Ruth could have been a billiard ball. Kripke, later: there is a fallacy in that. Stalnaker: one cannot assume that he is actually a billiard ball, because then one could not refer to him as we already did. That is not what it is about (see below). This confuses the limits of what could actually be with the limitations of assumptions about what could counterfactually have been.
I 79
Essential property/Kripke/Stalnaker: e.g. Kripke: thesis: names for natural species (natural kind terms) express essential properties. Names for species are referential terms. Referential: referential means that they are determined by a causal connection.
Natural kinds: natural kinds are not purely linguistic, but restrict the movement in the logical space.
Bare particulars: if one allows Babe Ruth to be a billiard ball, then one must also allow it for any other thing - then this solution is uninteresting.
I 81
Property/narrow/wide/propositional function: the distinction between 1) narrow P and 2) propositional functions: a propositional function in general is analogous to the distinction between possible individuals and concepts of individuals in general.
I 94f
Physical non-property: a physical non-property is a complex combination of physical properties and relations (see below, e.g. golden mountain).
Strong supervenience/Stalnaker: strong supervenience allows complex (composite) physical attributes to be physical properties. Attribute: an attribute is an easy way of picking out.
I 103
Def property/Stalnaker: properties are simply a way to group individuals.
Basic property/Stalnaker: basic properties must provide distinctions between individuals that could otherwise not be explained. Problem: then basic properties cannot supervene on something else.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Stalnaker I
R. Stalnaker
Ways a World may be Oxford New York 2003

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2022-01-25
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