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Properties And Universals Notes

PPE Notes > Epistemology & Metaphysics (Knowledge & Reality) Notes

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Universals 'The World of Universals' - Russell
? "[A]ll truths involve universals, and all knowledge of truths involves acquaintance with universals."
? Once we admit that resemblance is a universal it is not really worth trying to deny that other things are universals. o And we have to do this because we can't say that there is a different resemblance for each pair of e.g. white things; we have to say that the notion of resemblance in each case is the same.
? Universals are mind-independent.
? "[I]f whiteness were the thought as opposed to its object, no two different men could think of it, and no one man could think of it twice." o "That which many difference thoughts of whiteness have in common is their object, and this object is different from all of them."
? Things exist when they are in time; universals subsist (so have being in a different way). 'Statements about Universals' - Frank Jackson
? Denial of nominalism by showing the impossibility of translating all sentences about universals into statements about particulars (although it's possible with some). o E.g. not possible for 'red is a colour' or 'red resembles pink more than blue'.
? "If red's being a colour were nothing more than a matter of every red thing necessarily being coloured, then red's being a shape and an extension would be nothing more than the fact that necessarily every red thing is shaped and extended. And red is not a shape and not an extension." 'Properties' - David Armstrong
? Thinks properties exist.
? "To appreciate the utter implausibility of the attempt to evade properties by means of predicates it is perhaps sufficient to consider a case where a thing's property changes...Properties in the object are but metaphysical shadows cast on that object by the predicates...Furthermore, the change in something intrinsic to the object, and has nothing to do with the way the object stands to language."
? Accounts of properties in terms of classes are also problematic: o Promiscuity problem: "Sets abound, and only a very few of them are of the slightest interest...mere sets are insufficient to give an account of properties: at best having a property is a matter of membership of a set of a certain sort." o Resemblance account problem - can never eliminate notion of resemblance. Can't escape it by identifying the terms that resemble with the ordered sets


and because this still involves the relational notion of order. Can't use unordered pairs because it will be arbitrary which classes serve as a's having R to b. "Suppose that the water in the kettle is heated by the fire. We surely want to deny that it is the whole fire, qua token, that causes the heating of the water. The fire...must be in the right relations to the kettle...and the kettle must in turn contain the water...[and] the fire must be hot." Properties are contingent beings and so we should deny that there are uninstantiated properties. 2 reasons for denial of existence of tropes:

1. Requires 3 Axioms of Resemblance (symmetry, failure of transitivity, transitivity in the special case of the substitution of exact resemblers) - have to make these brute necessities.

2. You need universals to give a satisfactory account of laws of nature (i.e. avoid the grue problem).

'Universals as Attributes' - David Armstrong
? Principle of Instantiation: requirement that every universal be instantiated (at some point in time).
? Issue of multiple location of universals.
? "There is some very close link between universals and causality." o "If a thing instantiates a certain universal, then, in virtue of that, it has the power to act in a certain way." o "I doubt if the link between universals and powers is a necessary one, but it seems real." o We should reject disjunctive universals and negative ones. o (But it seems arbitrary which one you define as negative out of a pair...?)
? "I do not think that there is any infallible way of deciding what are the true universals."
? "[E]ven where the ordinary types do carve the beast of reality along its true joints, they may still not expose those joints for the things that they are."
? "It appears that we are required to recognize a's being F and a's having R to b as items in our ontology." Call these states of affairs. o We need these because if "a is F, then it is entailed that a exists and that the universal F exists. However, a could exist, and F could exist, and yet it fails to be the case that a is F." o States of affairs seem plausible candidates for the terms of causal relations. o They also help solve the multiple location of universals problem.

????The Class Nominalist analyses a's being F as a's being a member of a class (or natural class) containing {a, b, c,...}. The Resemblance Nominalist analyses a's being F as a matter of resemblance relations holding between a and, say, suitable paradigm Fs. o The relation involved in both theories is internal so they don't need states of affairs. "[S]tates of affairs may be required not simply by those who recognize universals but also by any philosophy that recognizes properties and relations, whether as universals or as particulars." "[W]e should think of the world as a world of states of affairs, with particulars and universals only having existence within states of affairs." A particular that existed outside states of affairs would not have any properties or relations - a bare particular. We need to add a Principle of the Rejection of Bare Particulars. Problem (called the 'Antinomy of Bare Particulars'): o Suppose a instantiates F - a is F. This is clearly not the 'is' of identity, but the 'is' of instantiation. o But if this is the case, then it appears that a considered in itself, is really a bare particular lacking any properties. o We can at least begin to meet this difficulty by distinguishing between thin and thick particulars. o The thin particular is a, taken apart from its properties (substratum).
? It is linked to its properties by instantiation, but is not identical with them.
? It is not bare because to be bare it would have to be not instantiating any properties.
? But, one can also think of particulars as involving their properties - thick particulars (seems to be the normal way we think of particulars).
? "But the thick particular, because it enfolds both thin particulars and properties, held together by instantiation, can be nothing but a state of affairs."
? Properties are ways things are.
? "If a property is a way that a thing is, then this brings the property into very intimate connection with the thing, but without destroying the distinction between them." "[T]he space-time world would have to be an enormous plurality or conjunction of states of affairs, with all the particulars that feature in the states of affairs linked up together (in states of affairs) by spatiotemporal relations." o Universals are constituents of states of affairs. Spacetime is a conjunction of states of affairs.

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