, Volume 190, Issue 4, pp 693–707 | Cite as

Modal property comprehension



To define new property terms, we combine already familiar predicates by means of certain logical operations. Given suitable constraints, these operations may presumably include truth-functional sentence connectives and quantification over objects. What is less clear is whether we can also use modal operators for this purpose. The aim of this paper is to clarify what is involved in this question, and to argue in favor of modal property definitions.


Property definitions Modal properties Dispositions Causal bases Aboutness 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Achinstein P. (1974) The identity of properties. American Philosophical Quarterly 11: 257–275Google Scholar
  2. Armstrong D. M. (1968) A materialist theory of the mind. Routledge & Kegan Paul, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Armstrong D. M. (1978) Universals and scientific realism. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  4. Armstrong D. M. (1996) Dispositions as categorical states. In: Crane T. (Ed.) Dispositions: A debate. Routledge, London, pp 15–18Google Scholar
  5. Bealer G. (1982) Quality and concept. Clarendon Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boolos G. (1975) On second-order logic. Journal of Philosophy 72: 509–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carnap R. (1947) Meaning and necessity. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  8. Cartwright R. (1967) Classes and attributes. Noûs 1: 231–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cross T. (2005) What is a disposition?. Synthese 144: 321–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Goldfarb W. (1989) Russell’s reasons for ramification. In: Anderson A., Savage W. (Eds.) Rereading Russell, Vol. XII of Minnesota studies in the philosophy of science. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp 24–40Google Scholar
  11. Goodman N. (1961) “About”. Mind 70: 1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Goodman N. (1983) Fact, fiction, and forecast. (4th ed.). Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  13. Hempel C. (1966) Philosophy of natural science. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  14. Holton R. (1999) Dispositions all the way round. Analysis 59: 9–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lemmon E. J. (1963) A theory of attributes based on modal logic. Acta Philosophica Fennica 16: 95–122Google Scholar
  16. Lewis D. (1973) Counterfactuals. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  17. Lewis, D. (1983a). How to define theoretical terms. In Philosophical papers, (Vol. I, pp. 78–95). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Lewis D. (1983b) New work for a theory of universals. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61: 343–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lewis D. (1986) On the plurality of worlds. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  20. Lewis D. (1988a) Relevant implication. Theoria 54: 161–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lewis D. (1988b) Statements partly about observation. Philosophical Papers 17: 1–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lewis D. (1997) Finkish dispositions. Philosophical Quarterly 47: 143–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Marcus R. B. (1963) Classes and attributes in extended modal systems. Acta Philosophica Fennica 16: 123–136Google Scholar
  24. Martin C. B. (1994) Dispositions and conditionals. Philosophical Quarterly 44: 1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McKitrick J. (2003) The bare metaphysical possibility of bare dispositions. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66: 349–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mellor D. H. (1974) In defense of dispositions. Philosophical Review 83: 157–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mellor D. H. (2000) The semantics and ontology of dispositions. Mind 109: 757–780CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Meyer U. (2002) Is science first-order?. Analysis 62: 305–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Meyer U. (2004) How to apply mathematics. Erkenntnis 61: 17–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Prior E., Pargetter R., Jackson F. (1982) Three theses about dispositions. American Philosophical Quarterly 19: 251–257Google Scholar
  31. Putnam H. (1958) Formalization of the concept ‘about’. Philosophy of Science 25: 125–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Putnam H. (1971) Philosophy of logic. Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Quine, W. V. (1969). Propositional objects. In Ontological relativity and other essays (pp. 139–160). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Russell B. (1908) Mathematical logic as based on the theory of types. American Journal of Mathematics 30: 222–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Russell, B., & Whitehead, A. N. (1910–1913). Principia mathematica. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Shoemaker S. (1980) Causality and properties. In: Inwagen P. (Ed.) Time and cause. Reidel, Dordrecht, pp 109–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sober E. (1982) Why logically equivalent predicates may pick out different properties. American Philosophical Quarterly 19: 183–189Google Scholar
  38. Stalnaker R. (1968) A theory of conditionals. In: Rescher N. (Ed.) Studies in logical theory. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 98–112Google Scholar
  39. Swoyer C. (1996) Theories of properties: From plenitude to paucity. In: Tomberlin J. (Ed.) Metaphysics, Vol. 10 of philosophical perspectives. Blackwell, Cambridge, pp 243–264Google Scholar
  40. Tooley M. (1972) Armstrong’s proof of the realist account of dispositional properties. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 50: 283–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Yablo S. (1987) Identity, essence, and indiscernibility. Journal of Philosophy 84: 293–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentColgate UniversityHamiltonUSA

Personalised recommendations