DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N040-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved September 22, 2021, from

4. Properties particularized

There is thus a line of argument which leads from the stereotypically empiricist idea that a thing is a bundle of properties to the distinctly non-empiricist doctrine of haecceities or individual essences. An empiricist can avoid inconsistency by particularizing properties (see Properties).

For the sake of illustration, suppose coldness to be a typical property of a thing. According to some philosophers, then, the coldness of one block of ice is one thing, and the coldness of another block of ice is quite another thing. It is not just that the second block of ice is a second instance of a cold thing but, rather, the coldness of the second block of ice is a second instance of coldness. Whenever something is cold, there exists something which we may call its coldness: this may be called a ‘property instance’ or (following D.C. Williams) a ‘trope’. According to the trope theory, a particular can be taken to be a ‘bundle of properties’ provided we take each of these properties to be an abstract particular.

The trope theory is a contender for, but has not attracted, majority support. Some of the Scholastic nominalists, like Ockham, can be read as having articulated such a view, and the view has been revived by a series of philosophers in the twentieth century: a classic exploration is found in Nelson Goodman’s The Structure of Appearance (1951) (see Nominalism §§2, 4).

Citing this article:
Bigelow, John C.. Properties particularized. Particulars, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N040-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2021 Routledge.

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