Should a higher-order metaphysician believe in properties?

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In this paper I take second order-quantification to be a sui generis form of quantification, irreducible to first-order quantification, and I examine the implications of doing so for the debate over the existence of properties. Nicholas K. Jones has argued that adding sui generis second-order quantification to our ideology is enough to establish that properties exist. I argue that Jones does not settle the question of whether there are properties because – like other ontological questions – it is first-order. Then I examine three of the main arguments for the existence of properties. I conclude that sui generis second-order quantification defeats the “one over many” argument and that, coupled with second-order predication, it also defeats the reference and quantification arguments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10017–10037
Number of pages21
Issue number3-4
Early online date4 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jun 2021


  • Higher-order metaphysics
  • Higher-order quantification
  • Properties
  • Second-order quantification


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