Ideas from 'On the Individuation of Attributes' by Willard Quine [1975], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Theories and Things' by Quine,Willard [Harvard 1981,0-674-87926-0]].

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8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 12. Denial of Properties
Because things can share attributes, we cannot individuate attributes clearly
                        Full Idea: No two classes have exactly the same members, but two different attributes may be attributes of exactly the same things. Classes are identical when their members are identical. ...On the other hand, attributes have no clear principle of individuation.
                        From: Willard Quine (On the Individuation of Attributes [1975], p.100)
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 5. Class Nominalism
You only know an attribute if you know what things have it
                        Full Idea: May we not say that you know an attribute only insofar as you know what things have it?
                        From: Willard Quine (On the Individuation of Attributes [1975], p.106)
                        A reaction: Simple, and the best defence of class nominalism (a very implausible theory) which I have encountered. Do I have to know all the things? Do I not know 'red' if I don't know tomatoes have it?
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / a. Individuation
No entity without identity (which requires a principle of individuation)
                        Full Idea: We have an acceptable notion of class, or physical object, or attribute, or any other sort of object, only insofar as we have an acceptable principle of individuation for that sort of object. There is no entity without identity.
                        From: Willard Quine (On the Individuation of Attributes [1975], p.102)
                        A reaction: Note that this is his criterion for an 'acceptable' notion. Presumably that is for science. It permits less acceptable notions which don't come up to the standard. And presumably true things can be said about the less acceptable entities.
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 6. Identity between Objects
Identity of physical objects is just being coextensive
                        Full Idea: Physical objects are identical if and only if coextensive.
                        From: Willard Quine (On the Individuation of Attributes [1975], p.101)
                        A reaction: The supposed counterexample to this is the statue and the clay it is made of, which are said to have different modal properties (destroying the statue doesn't destroy the clay).