Determinates vs. determinables

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2008)
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Everything red is colored, and all squares are polygons. A square is distinguished from other polygons by being four-sided, equilateral, and equiangular. What distinguishes red things from other colored things? This has been understood as a conceptual rather than scientific question. Theories of wavelengths and reflectance and sensory processing are not considered. Given just our ordinary understanding of color, it seems that what differentiates red from other colors is only redness itself. The Cambridge logician W. E. Johnson introduced the terms determinate and determinable to apply to examples such as red and colored. Chapter XI, of Johnson's Logic, Part I (1921), “The Determinate and the Determinable,” is the main text for discussion of this distinction



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David Sanford
Duke University

Citations of this work

Moral Vagueness: A Dilemma for Non-Naturalism.Cristian Constantinescu - 2014 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics: Volume 9. Oxford University Press. pp. 152-185.
Thick Evaluation.Simon Kirchin - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gurwitsch’s Phenomenal Holism.Elijah Chudnoff - 2013 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 12 (3):559-578.

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