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A property ( Latin attributum , proprietas , qualitas ; English property ; French propriété ) describes something that is ascribed to a person , an object , a concept or a (other) property. In the context of a predication , properties are assigned to the individual, from which a simple statement (or proposition ) arises, in older terminology a categorical judgment . In technical terms , the term attribute is often used instead of the expressions property or characteristic .

In addition to the general concept of possible predications even one is as a property essential to a person or thing belonging feature or a material provision understood ( essential property ). In an even narrower sense, a realized characteristic, a function, an attribute or a quality that is common to a class of objects , processes, relations , events , actions, people, etc. and that distinguishes them from others is meant, a distinguishing characteristic or a specific labeling. A property is then a determination by which something proves to belong to a class.

Properties in science and technology

When describing variables of state , a distinction can be made in natural science and technology between the properties of the body and those of the material ( material property ):

Classification of properties (sizes) in science and technology:
" Extensive size ":
body characteristics,
depending on the size of a body,
e.g. B. mass , length , weight etc.
" Intense size ":
material properties,
regardless of the size of a body,
e.g. B. density , concentration, color, taste, etc.

In computer science , the term attribute refers to the properties of different objects in different contexts. Thus, all additional property assignments necessary for the actual content of files are referred to as file attributes , so-called tags receive additional properties through the addition of “attribute names” and “attribute values” and in object-oriented programming a distinction is made between the characteristic of a class and that of an object .

Property in linguistics

In linguistics it is

  • a characteristic word (noun) is a part of speech . It refers to nouns or verbs and is used (in German) either as an attribute between article and noun ( das Schnell Auto ) or predicative ( Das Auto is fast ) or adverbially as a circumstance determination ( Das Auto drives fast ).
  • a property name: a noun that is formed from adjectives or participles that denote a property or state (example: beauty - beautiful ; badness - bad ).

Property in philosophy

What is understood by a property in philosophy depends on the respective ontology and epistemology .


Classic positions on the nature of properties are

  • the Platonic or universals -Realism: properties are independent realities where farther individual things.
  • the extensional particularism, as in the recent past about by Willard Van Orman Quine was represented: Properties are ultimately to be identified with classes of individuals.
  • Anti-realistic positions, such as Nelson Goodman's : There are no (natural) properties.
  • causal positions ( Sydney Shoemaker ): The properties are determined by their respective causal role.


The following are examples of more modern definitions of the term property :

  • “I call the terms under which an object falls its properties, so that“ being Φ is a property of Γ ”is just another phrase for“ Γ falls under the term of Φ ”. [...] Instead of saying “2 is a positive number” and “2 is a whole number” and “2 is less than 10” we can also say “2 is a positive whole number less than 10”. Here it appears to be a positive number, to be an integer, to be less than 10 as properties of object 2, but at the same time as features of the term positive integer less than 10. "( Gottlob Frege )
  • “It [the term quality] is to be understood in a very broad sense, including whatever can reasonably be said about any individual, true or false. It stands not only for qualitative, but also for quantitative, relational, spatiotemporal and other properties. "( Rudolf Carnap )

Concept of properties in psychology

In personality psychology and differential psychology , the term property in the narrower sense is only used for broader and temporally stable dispositions (English: Trait, see also personality trait ) and is differentiated from states (English: State) and behavioral tendencies (English Habit). The term psychological characteristic is used for the totality of the characteristics as peculiarities of a person .

See also


Jürgen Mittelstraß : Characteristic. In: Jürgen Mittelstraß (Hrsg.): Encyclopedia Philosophy and Philosophy of Science. 2nd Edition. Stuttgart / Weimar 2005, ISBN 3-476-02108-4 , p. 283 f.

Web links

Wiktionary: Property  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Attribute  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See W. Kellerwessel: Property. In: P. Prechtl (ed.): Basic concepts of analytic philosophy. Metzler, Stuttgart et al. 2004.
  2. See Wilhelm K. Essler: Introduction to Logic (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 381). 2nd, expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1969, DNB 456577998 , p. 168: second stage property .
  3. ^ Dudenredaktion (ed.): German universal dictionary . 5th, revised edition. Mannheim / Leipzig / Vienna / Zurich 2003, ISBN 3-411-05505-7 , p. 425.
  4. property. In: Georg Klaus, Manfred Buhr (Hrsg.): Philosophical dictionary. 11th edition. Leipzig 1975.
  5. ^ According to Kürschner: Grammatical Compendium. 4th edition. 2003, ISBN 3-8252-1526-1 , p. 135.
  6. After Arnim Regenbogen, Uwe Meyer: Dictionary of Philosophical Terms. Meiner, Hamburg 2005: Property.
  7. See Wolfgang Schwarz: Properties / Relations. In: Jordan, Nimtz (Hrsg.): Lexicon Philosophy: Hundred Basic Concepts. Reclam, Stuttgart 2009, p. 68.
  8. ^ Critical Wolfgang Schwarz: Properties / Relations. In: Jordan, Nimtz (Hrsg.): Lexicon Philosophy: Hundred Basic Concepts. Reclam, Stuttgart 2009, p. 68.
  9. Gottlob Frege: About Concept and Object. In: Quarterly for Scientific Philosophy. 16, 1892, pp. 192–205, quoted from: Gottlob Frege: Function, Concept, Meaning. 7th edition. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1994, 66 (76)
  10. ^ Rudolf Carnap: Significance and Necessity. In: Uwe Meixner (Hrsg.): Philosophy of logic. (2003), p. 201 (218).