From an Ontological Point of View

By John Heil | Go to book overview

Chapter 15 Objects

15.1 Particular Substances

Properties, I have argued, are modes: particularized ways objects are. But what are objects? Some philosophers take objects to be bundles of properties. Trope theorists, in particular, seem partial to the idea that there is nothing more to an object than its constituent properties appropriately arranged. 1 One motivation for such a view stems from a consideration made salient by Hume. When we think about or describe any object, we inevitably bring to mind or mention the object's properties. The beetroot I hold in my hand is red, spherical, and pungent. In perceiving the beetroot, I apparently respond to these and other of the beetroot's qualities. What else could there be to the beetroot?

One possibility is that objects like beetroots result from combining properties and what Armstrong calls 'thin particulars' (Armstrong 1989 : 94-6; 1997 : 123-6). A beetroot is a 'thick particular': a thin particular plus whatever properties it 'instantiates'. Differently put, a thin particular is what you get when you start with an object and (mentally) subtract its properties. This calls to mind Locke's conception of 'substrata'. Ordinary objects—beetroots and the like—are, on this view, substrata plus properties. Properties require substrata. Modes, ways objects are, cannot exist independently of objects. This is one way of understanding Locke's insistence that an object's properties must 'inhere in' or be 'supported by' a substratum. A substratum is not another property, but an ontologically distinctive bearer of properties.

If (like Armstrong, and unlike Locke) you thought properties were universals, substrata would introduce into the world elements of

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From an Ontological Point of View
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • From an Ontological Point of View iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Chapter 1 Introduction 1
  • Ontology 15
  • Chapter 2 Levels of Reality 17
  • Chapter 3 Predicates and Properties 22
  • Chapter 4 Difficulties for the Levels Conception 31
  • Chapter 5 Abandoning the Levels Conception: First Steps 40
  • Chapter 6 Philosophical Analysis 51
  • Chapter 7 Truth Making 61
  • Chapter 8 Powers 75
  • Chapter 9 Dispositional and Categorical Properties 85
  • Chapter 10 Properties as Pure Powers 97
  • Chapter 11 the Identity Theory 111
  • Chapter 12 Universals 126
  • Chapter 13 Modes 137
  • Chapter 14 Imperfect Similarity 151
  • Chapter 15 Objects 169
  • Chapter 16 Substantial Identity 179
  • Applications 193
  • Chapter 17 Colour 195
  • Chapter 18 Intentionality 208
  • Chapter 19 Conscious Experience 223
  • Chapter 20 Zombies 240
  • References 250
  • Index 261
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