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Ideas of Anthony Quinton, by Text

[British, b.1925, At New College, Oxford University.]

1973 The Nature of Things
9 'Nat' p.263 The naturalness of a class depends as much on the observers as on the objects
     Full Idea: The naturalness of a class depends as essentially on the nature of the observers who classify as it does on the nature of the objects that they classify. ...It depends on our perceptual apparatus, and on our relatively mutable needs and interests.
     From: Anthony Quinton (The Nature of Things [1973], 9 'Nat')
     A reaction: This seems to translate 'natural' as 'natural for us', which is not much use to scientists, who spend quite a lot of effort combating folk wisdom. Do desirable sports cars constitute a natural class?
9 'Nat' p.263 Properties imply natural classes which can be picked out by everybody
     Full Idea: To say there are properties is to say there are natural classes, classes introduction to some of whose members enables people to pick out others without hesitation and in agreement.
     From: Anthony Quinton (The Nature of Things [1973], 9 'Nat')
     A reaction: Aristotle would like this approach, but it doesn't find many friends among modern logician/philosophers. We should go on to ask why people agree on these things. Causal powers will then come into it.
9 'Nat' p.264 Uninstantiated properties must be defined using the instantiated ones
     Full Idea: Properties that have no concrete instances must be defined in terms of those that have.
     From: Anthony Quinton (The Nature of Things [1973], 9 'Nat')
     A reaction: I wonder what the dodo used to smell like?
9 'Nat' p.264 A class is natural when everybody can spot further members of it
     Full Idea: To say that a class is natural is to say that when some of its members are shown to people they pick out others without hesitation and in agreement.
     From: Anthony Quinton (The Nature of Things [1973], 9 'Nat')
     A reaction: He concedes a number of problems with his view, but I admire his attempt to at least begin to distinguish the natural (real!) classes from the ersatz ones. A mention of causal powers would greatly improve his story.
9 'Nat' p.264 Extreme nominalists say all classification is arbitrary convention
     Full Idea: Pure, extreme nominalism sees all classification as the product of arbitrary convention.
     From: Anthony Quinton (The Nature of Things [1973], 9 'Nat')
     A reaction: I'm not sure what the word 'arbitrary' is doing there. Nominalists are not daft, and if they can classify any way they like, they are not likely to choose an 'arbitrary' system. Pragmatism tells the right story here.
Pt I p.132 An individual is a union of a group of qualities and a position
     Full Idea: Quinton proposes that an individual is a union of a group of qualities and a position.
     From: report of Anthony Quinton (The Nature of Things [1973], Pt I) by Keith Campbell - The Metaphysic of Abstract Particulars 5
     A reaction: This seems the obvious defence of a bundle account of objects against the charge that indiscernibles would have to be identical. It introduces, however, 'positions' into the ontology, but maybe that price must be paid. Materialism needs space.