Ideas of J.P. Moreland, by Theme

[American, fl. 2001, Biola University, California]

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2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 6. Ockham's Razor
Epistemological Ockham's Razor demands good reasons, but the ontological version says reality is simple
     Full Idea: Ockham's Razor has an epistemological version, which says we should not multiply existences or explanations without adequate reason, and an ontological version, which says reality is simple, and so a simpler ontology represents it more accurately.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.2)
     A reaction: A nice distinction. Is it reality which is simple, or us? One shouldn't write off the ontological version. If one explanation is simpler than the others, there may be a reason in nature for that.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 1. Nature of Existence
Existence theories must match experience, possibility, logic and knowledge, and not be self-defeating
     Full Idea: A theory of existence should 1) be consistent with what actually exists, 2) be consistent with what could exist, 3) not make existence impossible (e.g. in space-time), 4) not violate logic, 5) make knowing the theory possible.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.6)
     A reaction: A nice bit of metaphilosophical analysis. I still doubt whether a theory of existence is possible (something has to be 'given' a priori), but this is a good place to start the attempt.
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 13. Tropes / a. Nature of tropes
Tropes are like Hume's 'impressions', conceived as real rather than as ideal
     Full Idea: Tropes are (says Campbell) substances (in Hume's sense), and indeed resemble his impressions conceived realistically rather than idealistically.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.3)
     A reaction: An interesting link. It doesn't get rid of the problem Hume has, of saying when two impressions are the same. Are they types or tokens? Trope-theory claims they are tokens. Hume's ontology includes 'resemblance'.
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 13. Tropes / b. Critique of tropes
A colour-trope cannot be simple (as required), because it is spread in space, and so it is complex
     Full Idea: A property-instance must be spread out in space, or it is not clear how a colour nature can be present, but then it has to be a complex entity, and tropes are supposed to be simple entities.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.3)
     A reaction: Seems a fair point. Nothing else in reality can be sharply distinguished, so why should 'simple' and 'complex'?
In 'four colours were used in the decoration', colours appear to be universals, not tropes
     Full Idea: If a decorator says that they used four colours to decorate a house, four tropes is not what was meant, and the statement seems to view colours as universals.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.3)
     A reaction: Although I am suspicious of using language to deduce ontology, you have to explain why certain statements (like this) are even possible to make.
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 1. Universals
If properties are universals, what distinguishes two things which have identical properties?
     Full Idea: If properties are universals, what account can be given of the individuation of two entities that have all their pure properties in common?
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.1)
     A reaction: Is this a big problem? Maybe only a space-time location can do it. Or, in the nice case where the universe is just two identical spheres, it may be impossible.
One realism is one-over-many, which may be the model/copy view, which has the Third Man problem
     Full Idea: One version of realism says that the universal does not enter into the being of its instances, and thus is a One-Over-Many. One version of this is the model/copy view, but this is not widely held, because of difficulties such as the Third Man Argument.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.1)
     A reaction: This presumably arises if the model is held to have the properties of the copy (self-predication), and looks like a bad theory
Realists see properties as universals, which are single abstract entities which are multiply exemplifiable
     Full Idea: Traditional realism is the view that a property is a universal construed as a multiply exemplifiable abstract entity that is a numerically identical constituent in each of its instances.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.4)
     A reaction: Put like that, it seems hard to commit oneself fully to realism. How can two red buses contain one abstract object spread out between them. Common sense says there are two 'rednesses' which resemble one another, which is a version of nominalism.
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 2. Need for Universals
The traditional problem of universals centres on the "One over Many", which is the unity of natural classes
     Full Idea: Historically the problem of universals has mainly been about the "One over Many", which involves giving an account of the unity of natural classes.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.1)
     A reaction: This still strikes me as the main problem (rather than issues of language). If universals are not natural, they must be analysed as properties, which break down into causation, which is seen as a human convention.
Evidence for universals can be found in language, communication, natural laws, classification and ideals
     Full Idea: Those who believe in universals appeal to the meaningfulness of language, the lawlike nature of causation, the inter-subjectivity of thinking, our ability to classify new entities, gradation, and the need for perfect standards or paradigms.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.1)
     A reaction: Of these, language and communication ought to be explicable by convention, but classification and natural laws look to me like the best evidence.
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 3. Instantiated Universals
The One-In-Many view says universals have abstract existence, but exist in particulars
     Full Idea: Another version of realism says is One-In-Many, where the universal is not another particular, but is literally in the instances. The universal is an abstract entity, in the instances by means of a primitive non-spatiotemporal tie of predication.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.1)
     A reaction: This sounds like Aristotle (and is Loux's view of properties and relations). If they are abstract, why must they be confined to particulars?
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 4. Uninstantiated Universals
Maybe universals are real, if properties themselves have properties, and relate to other properties
     Full Idea: Realism about universals is supported by the phenomenon of abstract reference - that is the fact that properties themselves have properties ('red is a colour'), and stand in relation to other properties ('red is more like orange than like blue').
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.1)
     A reaction: While a property may be an obviously natural feature, properties of properties seem more likely to be the produce of human perception and convention. It is a good argument, though.
A naturalist and realist about universals is forced to say redness can be both moving and stationary
     Full Idea: If a property is held to be at the location of the particular, then if there are two objects having the same property, and one object is stationary and the other is moving, the realist is forced to say that the universal is both moving and at rest.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.4)
     A reaction: The target of this comment is D.M.Armstrong. The example nicely illustrates the problem of trying to combine science and metaphysics. It pushes you back to Platonism, but that seems wrong too…
How could 'being even', or 'being a father', or a musical interval, exist naturally in space?
     Full Idea: Many properties (being even) and relations (musical intervals, being a father) are such that it is not clear what it would mean to take them as natural things existing in space.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.4)
     A reaction: 'Being even' certainly seems to be a property, and it is a struggle to see how it could exist in space, unless it is a set of actual or potential brain states.
There are spatial facts about red particulars, but not about redness itself
     Full Idea: When one attends to something existing in space, one attends to an instance of redness, not to redness itself (which is a colour, which resembles orange). The facts about red itself are not spatial facts, but are traditionally seen as a priori synthetic.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.4)
     A reaction: This is the fact that properties can themselves have properties (and so on?), which seems to take us further and further from the natural world.
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 6. Platonic Forms / a. Platonic Forms
Redness is independent of red things, can do without them, has its own properties, and has identity
     Full Idea: Four arguments for Platonism: 1) there are truths about redness (it's a colour) even if nothing red exists, 2) redness does not depend on particulars, 3) most universals are at some time not exemplified, 4) universals satisfy the criteria of existence.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.6)
     A reaction: This adds up to quite a good case, particularly the point that things can be said about redness which are independent of any particular, but the relationships between concepts and the brain seems at the heart of the problem.
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 1. Nominalism / a. Nominalism
Moderate nominalism attempts to embrace the existence of properties while avoiding universals
     Full Idea: Moderate nominalism attempts to embrace the existence of properties while avoiding universals.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.2)
     A reaction: Clearly there is going to be quite a struggle to make sense of 'exists' here (Russell tries 'subsists). Presumably each property must be a particular?
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 2. Resemblance Nominalism
Unlike Class Nominalism, Resemblance Nominalism can distinguish natural from unnatural classes
     Full Idea: Resemblance Nominalism is clearly superior to Class Nominalism, since the former offers a clear ground for distinguishing between natural and unnatural classes.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.2)
     A reaction: Important. It seems evident to me that there are natural classes, and the only ground for this claim would be either the resemblance or the identity of properties.
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 3. Predicate Nominalism
There can be predicates with no property, and there are properties with no predicate
     Full Idea: Linguistic predicates are neither sufficient nor necessary for specifying a property. Predicates can be contrived which express no property, properties are far more numerous than linguistic predicates, and properties are what make predicates apply.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.2)
     A reaction: This seems to me conclusive, and is a crucial argument against anyone who thinks that our metaphysics can simply be inferred from our language.
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 5. Class Nominalism
We should abandon the concept of a property since (unlike sets) their identity conditions are unclear
     Full Idea: Some argue that compared to sets, the identity conditions for properties are obscure, and so properties, including realist depictions of them, should be rejected.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.6)
     A reaction: I have never thought that difficulty in precisely identifying something was a good reason for denying its existence. Consider low morale in a work force. 2nd thoughts: I like this!
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 7. Indiscernible Objects
Most philosophers think that the identity of indiscernibles is false
     Full Idea: Most philosophers think that the identity of indiscernibles is false.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.7)
     A reaction: This is as opposed to the generally accepted 'indiscernibility of identicals'. 'Discernment' is an epistemological concept, and 'identity' is an ontological concept.
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 3. Abstraction by mind
Abstractions are formed by the mind when it concentrates on some, but not all, the features of a thing
     Full Idea: If something is 'abstract' it is got before the mind by an act of abstraction, that is, by concentrating attention on some (but not all) of what is presented.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.3)
     A reaction: Presumably it usually involves picking out the behavioural or causal features, and leaving out the physical features - though I suppose it works for physical properties too…
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 4. Structure of Concepts / b. Analysis of concepts
It is always open to a philosopher to claim that some entity or other is unanalysable
     Full Idea: It is always open to a philosopher to claim that some entity or other is unanalysable.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.2)
     A reaction: For example, Davidson on truth. There is an onus to demonstrate why all attempted analyses fail.
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 2. Time / f. Presentism
'Presentism' is the view that only the present moment exists
     Full Idea: 'Presentism' is the view that only the present moment exists.
     From: J.P. Moreland (Universals [2001], Ch.6)
     A reaction: And Greek scepticism doubted even the present, since there is no space between past and future. It is a delightfully vertigo-inducing idea.