How are we to characterise a philosopher who merits the title of ‘realist’ (as opposed to ‘nominalist’)? A natural way of characterising him would be to say that he believed in the truth of a particular existential proposition, or group of such propositions. For example, the realist about properties would be said to believe in the truth of ‘There are properties’, of ‘Some properties are incompatible’, and so on. However, it is not clear that one cannot subscribe to the truth of such propositions simply because one subscribes to that of certain simpler, and entirely uncontroversial, propositions: thus, if one believes in the truth of ‘Fido is a dog and Rover is a dog’, should one not also believe that Fido and Rover have something in common, and if one believes the latter, should one not also believe that there is at least one property, shared (as it happens) by Fido and Rover? If the links between such beliefs are as close as they seem to be, then a sentence like ‘There is a property’ must surely be no more controversial than one like ‘Fido is a dog and Rover is a dog’; but if acceptance of property-realism depends solely on our acceptance of sentences like the last, there would appear to be very little room for philosophical disagreement.
KeywordsCoherence Smoke Harman Tame
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Notes and References
- 1.Quine, Word and Object, MIT Press, 1960, § 37, p. 176.Google Scholar
- 2.See, for example, Geach, Reference and Generality, Cornell University Press, 3rd ed., 1980, § 95, p. 184.Google Scholar
- 3.In a D. Phil, thesis-to-be.Google Scholar
- 4.See Frege, ‘Function and Concept’, trans. Geach, in Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege, ed. Geach and Black, Basil Blackwell, 1970.Google Scholar
- 5.See Prior, ‘Is the Concept of Referential Opacity Really Necessary?’, Acta Philosophical Fennica, 1963Google Scholar