A Note on Bearer-Uniqueness and Particularised Qualities (B. Schnieder)

Published in Ratio 17 (2004), 218–28.

Abstract: It is often held that particularised qualities characteristically have a unique bearer in which they inhere. But there are apparent counterexamples: an apple’s redness is identical with the redness of its skin, though the apple is distinct from its skin. So it seems that a principle of beareruniqueness has to be modified.

However, I argue that the need of a modification is not a direct consequence of the supposed counterexamples. Their dangerous potential for the principle only arises if one takes the genitive in expressions of the form “a’s F-ness” to signify the relation of inherence. I propose an alternative view: The genitive signifies a relation which is indeed closely related to inherence, but which is, contrary to inherence itself, partitive. It may hold between a particularised quality and another entity because it holds between the quality and a part of the entity. If one regards the ontologically interesting relation of inherence as non-partitive, one can still adhere to an unrestricted principle of bearer-uniqueness.


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