Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Theism and abundant theories of properties

On abundant theories of properties (whether Platonic universals or tropes), for every predicate, or at least every predicate satisfied by something, there is a corresponding property expressed by the predicate.

Here is a plausible sounding argument:

  1. The predicate “is morally evil” is satisfied by someone.

  2. So, on an abundant theory of properties, there exists a property of being morally evil.

  3. The property of being morally bad, if it exists, is thoroughly evil.

  4. So, on an abundant theory of properties, there exists something that is thoroughly evil.

  5. If theism is true, nothing that exists is thoroughly evil (since every entity is the perfect God or created by the perfect God).

  6. So if theism is true, an abundant theory of properties is false.

If I accepted an abundant theory of properties, I would question (3). For instance, maybe properties are concepts in the mind of God. A concept of something morally evil is not itself an evil concept.

Still, it does seem to me that this argument provides a theist with a little bit of a reason to be suspicious of abundant theories of properties.

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