Making Sense of Negative Properties
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Few philosophers believe in the existence of so-called negative properties. Indeed, many find it mind-boggling just to imagine such entities. By contrast, I believe not only that negative properties are quite conceivable, but also that there are good reasons for thinking that some such properties actually exist. In this paper, I would like to explicate a concept of negative properties which I think avoids the logical absurdities commonly believed to frustrate theories of negative existences. To do this, I shall deploy a conceptual approach to ontology: I first evaluate the ontological commitments of ordinary negative statements, before I argue that, from the perspective of conceptual analysis, negative properties are no more suspicious than positive properties. In the second part of this paper, I probe the extent to which one can explain the distinction between positive and negative properties in terms of facts about logico-semantical entailment.
KeywordsCategory theory Conceptual analysis Descriptive metaphysics Negative properties Logico-semantical entailment Paradox of negation
Thanks to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for funding my research and to the members of the research unit ‘Causation and Explanation’ for helpful discussions on earlier versions of this paper.
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