Abstract

This paper defends a deflationary conception of properties, according to which a property exists if and only if there could be a predicate with appropriate satisfaction conditions. I argue that purely general properties and relations necessarily exist and discuss the bearing of this conception of properties on the interpretation of higher-order logic and on Quine's charge that higher-order logic is ‘set theory in sheep's clothing’. On my approach, the usual semantics involves a false assimilation of the logic to set theory. I conclude with remarks about implications for the programme of founding mathematical theories in higher-order logic plus abstraction principles.

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