[Serious Phil] Ascribing Predicates vs Detecting Properties
larry_tapper_2 at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 2 09:15:20 CDT 2012
--- In Phil-Sci-Mind at yahoogroups.com, Joseph Polanik <Philscimind at ...> wrote:
> larry_tapper wrote:
> >LT>Transience-1: lasting less than 3 minutes.
> >LT>Transience-2: lasting less than 3 seconds.
> >>Both T1 and T2 straightforwardly denote properties.
> >JP: if you actually agree with the principle that predicate ascription
> >is not necessarily property detection; then, this does not follow from
> >the mere fact that Transience-1 and Transience-2 are predicates.
> >My opinion that T1 and T2 are properties has nothing to do with any
> >general opinion about whether or not there exists a property
> >corresponding to each predicate.
JP> one could define innumerable predicates like 'transient-#' where '#' is
> some number of seconds; but, unless you say that each predicate
> corresponds to a distinct property, you have a problem: you don't know
> which predicate (if any) has a corresponding property.
My answer to that is very simple. I do in fact think that each predicate of the form transient-# corresponds to a distinct property. Why wouldn't it?
JP> >It is based on the simple observation that "lasting less than 3
> >seconds" is a paradigm case of what anyone could mean by a property.
> >It is comparable to mass, length, etc., which are surely properties if
> >anything is.
JP> consider your own example of the Saint Bernard: "Is a Saint Bernard
> large? Not if you define 'large' as (say) heavier than 300 pounds. But
> that is no argument against largeness being a property of the dog."
JP> the Saint Bernard has a weight property; and, let's say that, for a
> particular Saint Bernard dog named 'Slobber', the measured value of that
> property is 250 pounds.
JP> is Slobber large? if you define large as heavier than 300 pounds, no.
> if you define large as heavier than 200 pounds, yes.
JP> the former definition is no argument against largeness being a property
> of the dog; and, the latter definition is no argument in favor largeness
> being a property of the dog.
JP> weight is a property. 250 pounds is a measurement. largeness is just a
> matter of opinion.
Right. We all agree on that. Comparative terms like 'large' and 'transient' are vague and ambiguous unless you specify quantitative ranges to precisify what you mean by them.
But you *did* precisify the term 'transient', thus eliminating the relative-to-what problem:
> Transience-1: lasting less than 3 minutes.
> Transience-2: lasting less than 3 seconds.
And I'm saying that each of these predicates corresponds to a different property. And also that "lasting less than 3 minutes" denotes a property if anything does.
(1) Beryllium has an atomic weight.
(2) The atomic weight of beryllium is about 9.
(3) Beryllium has a low atomic weight (in a sense we precisify by defining 'low' as 'lower than 30')
I would say that all three of these predicates unproblematically correspond to properties.
I suspect that the sticking point here may relate to your comment:
JP> weight is a property. 250 pounds is a measurement.
You seem to be suggesting that once we've observed that something has the property 'weight', we're done as far as ascribing weight-related properties to the object is concerned. While I would say that the specific measured weight (or to cover measurement on other planets, mass) is a property of the object, and it would be most unnatural to deny that.
Besides, if you *do* deny that, then it will be child's play to name predicates that do not correspond to properties, and you do not have to appeal to arcane considerations about substance and existence to show that. "Is six feet tall" would be a predicate but not a property.
Slobber the St. Bernard is heavy enough to make the pointer of the bathroom scale jump when he steps on it. A flea is not. Are you denying that these are properties of the dog and the flea?
> >I don't see anything at all complicated or philsophically interesting
> >about this. Given that T1 and T2 are defined in terms of nested ranges,
> >it is obviously possible for some event to have both properties, or
> >only T1, or neither. So what? How do you figure this has anything to do
> >with predicates that lack corresponding properties?
> you haven't yet shown that either transient-1 or transient-2 is a
> property even in circumstances where one or both are corrected ascribed
> according to their definitions.
> Nothing Unreal is Self-Aware
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