Lead


Lay summary
Twentieth century research in philosophy and logic on the theory of properties and relations falls under two categories. First, a number of investigations have dealt with the general theory of properties and relations. Here questions such as the following have been central - are properties unit-properties or multiply exemplifiable? Do all binary relations have order properties? What are order properties? Is there a predicative tie? What is the relation between properties, on the one hand, and events, states and processes, on the other hand? What is the relation between properties, modality and essence? Secondly, different types of properties and relations have been investigated - secondary qualities, in particular colours, social properties, value properties and a variety of physical properties such as vectors and forces.The present project seeks, for the first time, to pursue a completely general theory of properties and relations together with detailed consideration of two specific types of properties and relations - the most basic and the most controversial. Physical properties, as these are countenanced by contemporary physics are, for all contemporary naturalists, the most basic properties there are. Value properties, on the other hand, are the most controversial type of properties. But any philosophy of common sense or of the natural world view has to have a theory of values and such a theory is also the underpinning of all the human sciences.
The present project aims to provide a general theory of properties and relations which is supported by and grows out of philosophies of basic physical properties and of value properties. It is divided into five subprojects: the first subproject deals with two of the most important and difficult issues in the metaphysics of properties: what, if anything, ties properties to the particulars that have them? what is the relation between properties and the properties they have? Answers to these questions are of crucial importance to any account of properties, and will shape the form answers to many other questions about properties may take. The second subproject delves into the philosophy of physics and goes right to the fundamental level of reality. Fundamental physical properties are in many ways anomalous: it is therefore of general interest to assess the challenge they pose to the common-sense view of change and the Humean proscription of necessary connections between distinct existents. The third subproject examines another species of recalcitrant properties. Axiological properties, while less basic physically, are of great value to us. Philosophical understanding of their pecularities is therefore of the utmost importance. The fourth subproject, finally, ties together the different strands of research, integrating them into a comprehensive theory. It aims at publishing two monographs, one extending the research further into the area of intentionality, the other discussing the results of the other subprojects, and making available to the general philosophical public the (it is hoped) intense and productive discussions among the project members that will take place during the next three years.