Deflationary theories of properties and the problem of inexpressible properties

22 October 2020, 2.00 PM - 22 October 2020, 3.30 PM

Dr Thomas Schindler, University of Bristol

Online

Deflationary theories of properties and the problem of inexpressible properties

I critically examine some deflationary theories of properties, according to which properties are "shadows of predicates" and quantification over them merely serves a quasi-logical function. I start by considering Thomas Hofweber's internalist theory, which is attractive insofar as it rests on minimal ideological and ontological assumptions, and pose a problem for his account of inexpressible properties. I then introduce a theory of properties that closely resembles Paul Horwich's minimalist theory of truth.

This theory overcomes the problem of inexpressible properties, but its formulation presupposes the existence of various kinds of abstract objects. I discuss some ways to reduce these existence assumptions but suggest that deflationists can hardly avoid quantification over abstract objects of one sort or another. I conclude that deflationism about properties is not as deflationary as some philosophers want it to be, but that it's still apt to call the position deflationary.

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