Theory and History of Ontology

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  • "History Logic" and "Bibliographia" are my other websites. "Table of Contents" gives the list of the pages, for other indexes see the "Sitemap". "Modern Ontologists" contains a table with links to the pages on the most important philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries who have written on ontology. The "Search" function can be used to find a particular author or subject.


Selected Bibliography on The Contemporary Problem of Universals


  1. Aaron, Richard I. 1952. The Theory of Universals. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  2. Armstrong, David Malet. 1978. Universals and Scientific Realism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Two volumes

  3. ———. 1986. "In Defence of Structural Universals." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 64 (1):85-88.

    "1 . The central issue. At the heart of David Lewis' case against structural universals lies his contention that two different things cannot be composed of exactly the same parts.

    Here is what I take to be a counter-example to his principle. Let a and b be two particulars, and R be a non-symmetrical relation. Let it be the case that a has R to b, and that b has R to a. We have two distinct states of affairs ('two different things'), yet, in a clear sense of the word 'composed', they are composed of exactly the same parts: a, b and R.

    The two states of affairs may be called structures. In his important recent book The Categorical Structure of the World (1983, Section 101), Reinhardt Groomsman offers the following identity-conditions for structures. S1 and S2 are the very same structure if and only if (a) they contain- the very same nonrelational parts; (b) they contain the very same relations; (c) the same parts stand in the same relations to each other. In my counter-example, the two structures contain the very same non-relational parts, the very same relations, but it is not the case that the same parts stand in the same' relation to each other.

    My counter-example to Lewis' principle was chosen because, although it involves structures, it does not involve structural universals. This shows, I think, that the difficulty raised by Lewis is best thought of as an argument against postulating any universals, structural or otherwise; or, at least, as an argument against postulating relations which are universals.

    Lewis, of course, would not allow the counter-example. By far the simplest way for him to deal with it is by adopting a philosophy of what, following D. C. Williams (1953) , and, more recently, K. K. Campbell (1981) , he calls 'tropes'. Tropes are properties and relations, but they are properties.' and relations conceived not as universals but as particulars.;-On this; view 'of relations, my alleged counter-example becomes two states of affairs, a R1 b, and b R2 a, where R1 and R2 are not identical, although they may, resemble exactly. (The universal R perhaps reduces to an equivalence-class of exactly resembling tropes.) Given this account, I have certainly not produced a counter-example to Lewis' view that two different things cannot: be composed of exactly the same things.

    But is not the dispute now a stand-off? Lewis can use his principle against a philosophy of universals. I can use universals to produce a counter-example to his principle. Indeed, is not Lewis close to begging the question against me?

    It may be replied that Lewis' view is the more economical. He puts forward an attractive-sounding principle. I have to deny that the principle holds in

    all cases, and my reason is that it is defeated by those suspicious characters: universals.

    To this I reply that economy in a metaphysics can only be judged, as Mark Johnston has put it to me, `in the end-game'. For myself, I believe that universals are great explainers. The loss on the roundabouts as a result of having to deny Lewis' principle may well be made up with interest on the swings. In any case, as the great Dr. Tarrasch said, `before the end-game, the Gods have placed the middle-game'.

    What it would be nice to have, but what I cannot supply, is formal description of an operation which will take one from any unordered set of universals to possible structural universals which involve nothing but members of the set.' (I say `possible' in order to respect the Principle of Instantiation which I believe should apply to all universals.) Such an operation will permit the one universal in the original set to appear in more than one `place' in the structural universal. (E.g. an F having R to an F which has R to a third F.) A parallel is the way that, in a set of sets, the very same individual may be found as a member of different sub-sets." pp. 85-86.

  4. ———. 1989. Universals. An Opinionated Introduction. Boulder: Westview Press.

    Contents: Preface XI-XII; 1. The problem 1; 2. Primitive natural classes 21; 3. Resemblance nominalism 39; 4. Particulars as bundles of universals 59; 5. Universals as attributes 75; 6. Tropes 113; 7. Summing up 135; references 131; Index 145.

    "This book is intended to be intelligible to the advanced undergraduate student and should also be suitable for graduate seminars. However, I hope that it will also be of interest to professional philosophers, particularly those who are sympathetic to the project of an empirical metaphysics. Since the publication of my book Universals and Scientific Realism in 1978, although my views have remained the same in broad outline, I have become aware of various mistakes and omissions in what I said then. The present work, therefore, besides introducing the topic, tries to push the subject further ahead.

    I now think that a particular type of moderate Nominalism, moderate because it admits properties and relations, but a Nominalism because it takes the properties and relations to be particulars rather than universals, can be developed as an important and quite plausible rival to a moderate Realism about universals. In the earlier book I gave such a Nominalism only brief consideration. By contrast, in this work a battle between Nominalists and Realists over the status of properties and relations becomes one main theme.

    In general, I have largely confined myself to moderate Nominalisms and moderate Realisms. That host of contemporary philosophers who unreflectively substitute classes of particulars for properties and relations I take to be immoderate Nominalists. However, many of the arguments that I bring against the more moderate Natural Class theory are also arguments against this orthodoxy." (From the Preface)

    "It is time to bring the matter to a conclusion. Metaphysicians should not expect any certainties in their inquiries. One day, perhaps, the subject will be transformed, but for the present the philosopher can do no more than survey the field as conscientiously as he or she can, taking note of the opinions and arguments of predecessors and contemporaries, and then make a fallible judgment arrived at and backed up as rationally as he or she knows how.

    Of all the results that have been argued for here, the most secure, I believe, is the real existence of properties and relations. Whether they be universals or particulars is a more delicate matter, and just what properties and relations are required may be obscure, and in any case not for the philosopher to determine. But I hope that the arguments of Chapters 2 and 3, criticizing the versions of the Natural Class and Resemblance theories that try to do without properties and relations, will be thought weighty. Blobs are out; we require layer cakes. Reality must have more fundamental structure than the stricter Nominalisms allow. The introduction of properties and relations then involves, I argued, the admission of states of affairs (facts) into our ontology." p. 135


    "Therefore, the fate of the Universals theory may turn on the questions of the inexact resemblance of universals and of the nature of laws. But if both questions go as I surmise that they will go, the Universals theory seems ahead of even the best Trope theory.

    Drawing a figure from the game of chess, Mark Johnston has suggested to me that the dispute between a suitably sophisticated theory of universals and a suitably sophisticated theory of tropes can only be decided in the end game. Maybe. We are probably only at the beginning of the middle game as yet.

    We have seen in Chapter 6 the remarkable way that the Universals and Trope theories, when thought through, turn out to run parallel in many respects. We may in the end have to reconsider an idea of H. H. Price's ( Thinking and experience, Hutchinson, 1953, Ch. 1, pp. 30-32) that Universals and Resemblance theories are no more than "alternative languages," although, unlike Price, we will surely need to move to a trope version of a Resemblance theory.

    At any rate, the Problem of Universals is alive and well and may commend itself to those happy few who feel the intellectual fascination in what D. C. Williams called "grubbing around in the roots of being." p. 139

  5. ———. 1991. "Classes Are State of Affairs." Mind no. 100:189-200.

  6. Azzouni, Jody. 2004. Deflating Existential Consequence. A Case for Nominalism. New York: Oxford University Press.

  7. Bacon, John. 1986. "Armstrong's Theory of Properties." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 64 (1):47-53.

    "At the heart of D. M. Armstrong's theory of universals in [N], [U] and [L] is a set of basic theses about monadic universals, or properties, as he calls them. The theses lay down the a priori conditions under which a one, place predicate simple or compound) may stand for a property. Thus there are predicates standing for no property. We may nevertheless say for convenience that they stand for `features', without here attempting a closer semantic analysis of this way of speaking. The rough idea is that a `feature' is a class-concept. As (placeholders for) one-place predicates, I use F, G.

    That F is a property or a universal will be expressed by the (closed) sentence UF. The theory of U, of universalhood, is the metaphysical core of Armstrong's theory of universals. My purpose here is to clarify the core so far as formal means -permit."

    [N] Nominalism and realism vo. 1 of Universals and scientific realism, Cambridge 1978.

    [U] A theory of universals, vol. 2 of same.

    [L] What is a law of nature?, Cambridge 1983.

  8. ———. 1995. Universals and Property Instances. The Alphabet of Being. London: Blackwell.

  9. Bealer, George. 1993. "Universals." The Journal of Philosophy no. 90 (1):5-32.

  10. Bigelow, John. 1986. "Towards Structural Universals." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 64 (1):94-96.

  11. Bochenski, Joseph M., Church, Alonzo, and Goodman, Nelson. 1956. The Problem of Universals. A Symposium. Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press.

    Contents; Alonzo Church: Propositions and Sentences 3; Nelson Goodman: A World of Individuals 15; Joseph Bochenski: The Problem of Universals 35-54.

    "The papers contained in this publication were read at the Aquinas Symposium sponsored by the Department of Philosophy of the University of Notre Dame on March 9-10, 1956. Leo R. Ward, C.S.C., of the University of Notre Dame, coordinator of the Aquinas Symposium, had invited scholars representing several divergent views on the nature of Universals to present, within the limits of a relatively short paper and a subsequent discussion period, some aspects of the problem of Universals. Response to his invitation was very gratifying.

    Out of the meeting came three papers that literally make up a symposium: Professor Alonzo Church of Princeton University, Professor Nelson Goodman of the University of Pennsylvania, and Professor I. M. Bochcnski, 0.P., of the University of Fribourg and Visiting-Professor at the University of Notre Dame read papers that converge on the Problem of the Universals from three different philosophic positions. Professor Richard McKeon of the University of Chicago was the discussion leader at all of the sessions. These papers, with a minimum of editing by the respective participants, are now made available in this edition."

  12. Boolos, George. 1985. "Nominalist Platonism." The Philosophical Review no. 94:327-344.

  13. Butchvarov, Panayot. 1966. Resemblance and Identity. An Examination of the Problem of Universals. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

  14. Campbell, Keith. 1990. Abstract Particulars. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

  15. Chihara, Charles. 1968. "Our Ontological Commitment to Universals." Noûs no. 2:25-46.

  16. Cleve, James van. 1994. "Predication without Universals? A Fling with Ostrich Nominalism." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 54:577-590.

    "In this paper I wish to consider the merits of Realist theories of predication vis-à-vis three varieties of Nominalism, which Armstrong has dubbed Predicate Nominalism, Resemblance Nominalism, and Ostrich Nominalism) In Part I, I shall argue that Ostrich Nominalism is the most satisfactory position of these four, and that the Realist view favored by Armstrong and many others is prone to the same fundamental difficulty as the other two varieties of Nominalism. In Part II, I shall consider difficulties for the argument of Part I."

  17. Cocchiarella, Nino. 1986. Logical Investigations of Predication Theory and the Problem of Universals. Napoli: Bibliopolis.

    "Predication theory has been a subject of philosophical concern since at least the writings of Plato and Aristotle. It is in its way the locus of a number of philosophical issues both in metaphysics and epistemology, not the least of which is the problem of universals.

    The latter problem, sometimes all too simply put as the question of whether there are universals or not, is especially germane to the notion of predication since a theory of universals is at least in part a semantic theory of predication; and it is just to such a theory that we must turn in any philosophical investigation of the notion of predication.

    In doing so, however, we need not assume the truth or superiority of any one theory of universals over another. Indeed, an appropriate preliminary to any such assumption might well consist of a comparative analysis of some of the different formal theories of predication that can be semantically associated with these different theories of universals: for just as the latter provide a semantics for the former, it is only through the logical syntax of a formal theory of predication that the logical structure of a theory of universals can be rendered perspicuous. That, in any case, is the principal methodological assumption for the approach to the problem of universals we shall undertake in the present monograph where we will be more concerned with the construction and comparison of the abstract logical systems that may be associated with different theories of universals than with the metaphysical or epistemological issues for which they were originally designed. It is our hope and expectation, however, that these comparative formal analyses will be instrumental toward any philosophical decision as to whether to adopt a given theory of universals or not.

    The original use of the term "universal" goes back to Aristotle according to whom a universal is that which can be predicated of things (De Interpretatione, 17 a 39). We shall retain the core of this notion throughout this essay and assume that whatever else it may be a universal has a predicable nature and that it is this predicable nature which is what constitutes its universality.

    Nothing follows from that assumption, however, regarding whether a universal is (1) merely a predicate expression (nominalism) of some language or other; (2) a concept (conceptualism) in the. sense of a sociobiologically based cognitive ability or capacity to identify, collect or classify, and characterize or relate things in various ways; or (3) a real property or relation existing independently of both language and the natural capacity humans have for thought and representation (realism). We propose to take each of these interpretations or theories of universals seriously in what follows at least to the extent that we are able to associate each with a formal theory of predication. Our particular concern in this regard, moreover, will be with the explanation each provides of the predicable nature of universals, i.e., of that in which the universality of universals consists.

    Our discussion and comparison of nominalism, conceptualism and realism, accordingly, will not deal with the variety of arguments that have been given for or against each of them, but with how each as a theory of universals may be semantically associated with a formal theory of predication. Our assumption here, as indicated above, is that insofar as such an associated formal theory of predication provides a logically perspicuous medium for the articulation of the predicable nature of universals as understood by the theory of universals in question, then to that extent the formal theory may itself be identified with the explanation which that theory of universals provides of the predicable nature of universals. It is in the sense of this assumption, moreover, that we understand a philosophical theory of predication to be a formal theory of predication together with its semantically associated theory of universals." pp. 11-12.

  18. Eberle, Rolf. 1970. Nominalistic Systems. Dordrecht: Reidel.

  19. Forrest, Peter. 1986. "Ways Worlds Could Be." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 64 (1):15-24.

  20. ———. 1986. "Neither Magic nor Mereology: A Reply to Lewis." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 64 (1):89-91.

    "In 'Against Structural Universals', David Lewis provides an important critique of the theory of structural universals developed by D.. M. Armstrong, and which I use in 'Ways Worlds Could Be'. Lewis' chief criticism is based on the thesis that the only unanalysable, sui generis, :mode of composition is that of mereology. (1) I call that the Either Mereology or Magic Thesis. Lewis claims that the 'generation of sets out of their elements is not some unmereological form of composition'. He, rightly in my opinion, treats a set as the mereological sum of unit sets. And -- here' I disagree -- -he insists that the generation of unit sets is 'not composition at all.'

    In reply to Lewis I shall attack the Either Mereology `or Magic Thesis by arguing:

    (1) That it does not follow from a conceptual analysis. (2)

    (2) Although it has considerable prima facie appeal it is not robust enough to be used to argue against structural universals

    and (3) Lewis himself is committed to counter-examples lo, it.

    I conclude that Either Mereology or Magic Thesis is merely' an interesting conjecture, which would hold for some ontologies, but which Lewis should not advance and which has no power to refute my own theory of possibility."

    (1) Against Structural Universals', this issue of the Australasian Journal of Philosophy pp. 25-46 .

    (2) Nor is it obvious that Lewis intended it to be.

  21. Gosselin, Mia. 1990. Nominalism and Contemporary Nominalism. Ontological and Epistemological Implications of the Work of W. V. O. Quine and of N. Goodman. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  22. Hale, Bob. 1987. "Abstract Objects." In. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

  23. Hochberg, Herbert. 1988. "A Refutation of Moderate Nominalism." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 66 (2):188-207.

    "Russell offered what has become a classic argument for the existence of universal properties in his 1911 paper 'On the Relations of Universals and Particulars. (1) My concern in this paper is not with the cogency of the argument he offered there, but with a moderation of the nominalist's position that concedes a point to Russell. (1) Some nominalist's have recently acknowledged Russell's claim that a universal 'connection' or `relation' of similarity is involved in taking qualities to be particular-instances, or 'quality-moments' in Husserl's terminology, and have argued as follows. The realist recognises particulars and universals. In addition, the realist acknowledges a universal connection or tie or nexus or predication relation - exemplification, say. Thus, the realist recognises three distinct kinds of things: particulars, universal qualities (including relations) and a connection between particulars and universals. The 'moderate' nominalist recognises particular quality-instances and a universal connection - exact similarity. Consequently, Russell's argument, at best, does not force a universal relational quality upon the nominalist, but merely forces the nominalist to recognise a universal connection that is a correlate of the realist's exemplification connection, and not of the realist's universal qualities and relations.(2) In a way, the modification of the nominalist's position is a tribute to Bradley's 'paradox', which can be taken to force one to recognise, as Russell sometimes did, that there is a basic predication relation that cannot be included as a relation among relations without initiating a vicious regress. (3)

    The moderate nominalist can then reject Russell's claim that a universal relational quality must be recognised. Since the similarity relation is the analogue of the realist's exemplification connection, it is not a 'standard' universal. And, as any view must recognise such a connection, giving Bradley his due, the nominalistic advocate of quality-instances merely recognises, in his way, what the realist must also recognise: a 'connection' exemplification `tie' (or several `ties'): the nominalist recognises particular quality-instances and a universal `similarity tie'. Thus, while Russell's argument is neither blocked nor denied, it is seemingly deprived of its sting.

    I shall argue that the moderate nominalist's argument fails for a number of reasons. (It is worth noting that Wilfrid Sellars has long advocated a variant of this kind of nominalism, though he sought to avoid explicitly accepting either a universal tie or quality-instances.) (4) One reason the argument fails is that it tries to avoid one kind of entity by giving another type of entity a two-fold function. The realist's exemplification connection performs only one function. It serves to connect particulars to universals so that we have states of affairs (5) to provide truth conditions for atomic sentences. In short, it combines elements into complexes. The nominalist's connection is not merely a connection in that sense. It not only connects exactly similar qualityinstances into what we may call 'similarity-facts', but, by so doing, it provides the qualitative content for an object. This is readily seen when we note that the realist's connection may or may not obtain, in the sense that a state of affairs may or may not obtain, given the elements - the particular and the quality - that enter into it. The nominalist's similarity fact must obtain, given the elements that enter into it, and is thus necessary, just as the similarity relation may be said to be 'internal', as opposed to an 'external' tie of exemplification. Thus, the relation of exact similarity is quite different from a connecting tie like exemplification." pp. 188-189

    (1) Russell's classic argument will not do as it was presented. It will do in an amended form. On this point see my 'Russell's Proof of Realism Reproved', Philosophical Studies 37, 1980.

    (2) I am indebted to D. M. Armstrong for calling my attention to this variant of nominalism and to discussion of it with him.

    (3) Russell's concern with the Bradley paradox was partially responsible for his holding, in the manuscript of 1913 entitled Theory of Knowledge, that facts involved logical forms which were not constituents. See Chapter VII of the manuscript, published as vol. 7, The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, ed. E. Eames et. al. (London: 1984).

    (4) On Sellars' nominalism see my 'Logical Form, Existence, and Relational Predication', in Foundations of Analytic Philosophy, ed. H. Wettstein, et. al. (Minneapolis: 1981), reprinted in my book Logic, Ontology and Language (Munich: 1984).

    (5) Questions arise regarding 'possible' facts or states of affairs that do not 'obtain'. Such issues, though relevant to the dispute between realists and nominalists, will be avoided in this paper.

  24. Jacquette, Dale. 2006. "Bochenski on Property Identity and the Refutation of Universals." Journal of Philosophical Logic no. 35:293-316.

    "An argument against multiply instantiable universals is considered in neglected essays by Stanislaw Lesniewski and I. M. Bochenski. Bochenski further applies Lesniewski's refutation of universals by maintaining that identity principles for individuals must be different than property identity principles. Lesniewski's argument is formalized for purposes of exact criticism, and shown to involve both a hidden vicious circularity in the form of impredicative definitions and explicit self-defeating consequences. Syntactical restrictions on Leibnizian indiscernibility of identicals are recommended to forestall Lesniewski's paradox."

  25. Johansson, Ingvar. 2000. "Determinables as Universals." The Monist no. 83 (1):101-121.

  26. Katz, Jerrold, and Postal, Paul. 1991. "Realism Vs. Conceptualism in Linguistics." Linguistics and Philosophy no. 14:515-554.

  27. Küng, Guido. 1967. Ontology and the Logistic Analysis of Language. An Enquiry into the Contemporary Views on Universals. Doridrecht: Reidel.

    Revised edition (Original edition: Ontologie und logistische Analyse der Sprache Eine Untersuchung zur zeitgenössischen Universaliendiskussion - Wien, Springer-Verlag, 1963).

    Contents: 0. Introduction 1; Part One: The logistic analysis of language and the relation of representation. 1. A philosophical revolution 23; 2. From the theory of knowledge to the logical analysis of language 30; 3. From the psychological concept to the graphical sign 38; 4. The relation of representation 51; Part Two: The relation of representation of predicate signs and contemporary views on universals. 5. Bertrand Russell 66; 6. Ludwig Wittgenstein 80; 7. Rudolf Carnap 86; 8. Stanislaw Lesniewski 102; 8. W. V. Quine and N. Goodman 127; 10. The interpretations of predicate signs 161; 11. Conclusion 180; Bibliography 188; Index of names 201; Index of subjects.

    "It is the aim of the present study to introduce the reader to the ways of thinking of those contemporary philosophers who apply the tools of symbolic logic to classical philosophical problems. Unlike the "continental" reader for whom this work was originally written, the English-speaking reader will be more familiar with most of the philosophers discussed in this book, and he will in general not be tempted to dismiss them indiscriminately as 'positivists and 'nominalists'. But the English version of this study may help to redress the balance in another respect. In view of the present emphasis on ordinary language and the widespread tendency to leave the mathematical logicians alone with their technicalities, it seems not without merit to revive the interest in formal ontology and the construction of formal systems.

    A closer look at the historical account which will be given here, may convince the reader that there are several points in the historical development whose consequences have not yet been fully assessed: I mention, e.g., the shift from the traditional three-level semantics of sense and denotation to the contemporary two-level semantics of representation; the relation of extensional structure and intensional content in the extensional systems of Wittgenstein and Carnap; the confusing changes in labelling the different kinds of analytic and apriori true sentences; etc. Among the philosophically interesting tools of symbolic logic Lesniewski's calculus of names deserves special attention. Despite the pioneering efforts of Professor C. Lejewski, philosophers still have not caught on to it so far." (from the Preface).

  28. Landesman, Charles, ed. 1971. The Problem of Universals. New York: Basic books.

    Contents: On the relations of universals and particulars, by B. Russell; Universals and resemblances, by H. H. Price; On concept and object, by G. Frege; Frege's hidden nominalism, by G. Bergmann; Universals, by F. P. Ramsey; Universals and metaphysical realism, by A. Donagan; Universals and family resemblances, by R. Bambrough; Particular and general, by P. F. Strawson; The nature of universals and propositions, by G. F. Stout; Are characteristics of particular things universal or particular? by G. E. Moore and G. F. Stout; The relation of resemblance, by P. Butchvarov; Qualities, by N. Wolterstroff; On what there is, by W. V. Quine; Empiricism, semantics, and ontology, by R. Carnap; The languages of realism and nominalism, by R. B. Brandt; Grammar and existence: a preface to ontology, by W. Sellars; A world of individuals, by N. Goodman; Bibliographical notes pp. 307-308.

  29. Landini, Gregory, and Foster, Thomas. 1991. "The Persistence of Counterexample: Re-Examining the Debate over Leibniz Law." Noûs no. 25:43-61.

  30. Largeault, Jean. 1971. Enquête Sur Le Nominalisme. Louvain: Éditions Nauwelaerts.

  31. Lewis, David. 1986. "Against Structural Universals." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 64 (1):25-46.

  32. ———. 1986. "Comment on Armstrong and Forrest." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 64 (1):92-93.

  33. Linsky, Bernard, and Zalta, Edward. 1995. "Naturalized Platonism Versus Platonized Naturalism." The Journal of Philosophy no. 92 (10):525-555.

  34. Loux, Michael J., ed. 1970. Universals and Particulars. Readings in Ontology. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press.

    Second revised edition 1976.

    "Few philosophical issues have proved as persistent as the problem of universals. In virtually every period in the history of philosophy the existence of universals has been a central focus of philosophical concern; and like any recurrent issue, the problem has received different interpretations in different historical contexts. It is, nonetheless, possible to abstract a common theme from the variety of interpretations; for whatever else has been at issue, the concept of a multiply exemplifiable object has always been pivotal in the debate over universals. One party to the dispute (the Platonist or metaphysical realist) contends that our ordinary notions of property, action, relation, and kind all presuppose an ontology of multiply exemplifiable objects. Different objects, realists have claimed, can possess one and the same property; different persons can perform one and the same action; different things can belong to one and the same kind; and different n-tuples (i.e., pairs, triples, etc.) of objects can enter into one and the same relation. According to the realist, their jointly possessing, performing, belonging to, and entering into are all cases of multiple exemplification; and what they jointly possess, perform, belong to, or enter into is a universal.

    Nominalists, on the other hand, have denied the possibility of multiple exemplification and with it the reality of universals. Some have agreed that objects can and do possess properties, enter into relations, and perform actions, but have contended that it is impossible for different objects to possess numerically one property, for different persons to perform numerically one action, and for different n-tuples of objects to enter into numerically one relation; whereas, other nominalists have refused to attribute any ontological status whatever to properties, actions, kinds, and relations." pp. 3-4

    Contents: UNIVERSALS. The existence of universals by Michael J. Loux 3; The world of universals by Bertrand Russell 25; On what there is by W. V. O. Quine 33; Universals by D. F. Pears 44; Particular and general by P. F. Strawson 59; Qualities by Nicholas Wolterstorff 87; Universals and family resemblances by Renford Bambrough 106; Universals and metaphysical realism by Alan Donagan 125; Abstract entitites by Wilfrid Sellars 156; On the nature of universals by Nicholas Wolterstorff 206; PARTICULARS. Particulars and their individuation by Michael J. Loux 235; The identity of indiscernibles by Max Balck 250; The identity of indiscernibles by A. J. Ayer 263; The identity of indiscernibles by D. J. O'Connor 271; Bare particulars by Edwin B. Allaire 281; Particulars re-clothed by V. C. Chappell 291; Another look at bare particulars by Edwin B. Allaire 296; Do relations individuate? by J. W. Melland 304; Particulars and their qualities by D. C. Long 310; Essence and accident by Irving Copi 331; Essence and accident by Hugh S. Chandler 347; World and essence by Alvin Plantinga 353; Bibliography 387-396.

  35. MacBride, Fraser. 2004. "Whence the Particular-Unversal Distinction?" Grazer Philosophische Studien no. 67:181-194.

  36. Marsonet, Michele. 2002. The Problem of Realism. Aldershot: Ashgate.

  37. Maurin, Anna-Sofia. 2002. If Tropes. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  38. Mellor, D.H. 1992. "There Are No Conjunctive Universals." Analysis no. 52:97-103.

    "In short, just calling particulars and universals 'parts' of facts will not distinguish them even from functions like conjunctions, negation and disjunction, let alone from each other. Nor will it tell us whether there are conjunctive universals. For the answer to that question will now depend on whether the specifically universal type of parts of facts includes non-ultimate parts. If it does, there will be conjunctive universals; if not, not. So to say that there are such universals, just because parts are generally taken to include non-ultimate parts, would simply beg the question. Moreover this answer to it will now give advocates of conjunctive universals far more than they want. (...)

    I conclude that none of Oliver's models of how particulars and universals constitute facts will tell us whether, and if so why, there are conjunctive universals." p. 99

  39. Mellor, D.H., and Oliver, Alex, eds. 1997. Properties. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Contents: Introduction by D. H. Mellor and Alex Oliver 1; I. Function and concept by Gottlob Frege 34; II. The world of Universals by Bertrand Russell 45; III. On our knowledge of Universals by Bertrand Russell 51; IV. Universals by F. P. Ramsey 57; V. On what there is by W. V. Quine 74; VI. Statement about Universals by Frank Jackson 89; VII. 'Ostrich Nominalism' or 'Mirage Realism'? by Michael Devitt 93; VIII. Against 'Ostrich' Nominalism: a reply to Michael Devitt by D. M. Armstrong 101; IX: On the elements of Being: I by Donald C. Williams 112; X. The metaphysics of abstract particulars 125; XI. Tropes by Chris Daly 140; XII. Properties by D. M. Armstrong 160; XIII. Modal realism at work: properties 173; XIV. New work for a theory of Universals by David Lewis 188; XV. Causality and properties by Sydney Shoemaker 228; XVI. Properties and predicates by D. H. Mellor 255; Notes on Contributors 268; Select bibliography 270; Index of Names 275-276.

    "Particular objects have properties, respects in which they may be alike or differ. People running are alike in motion, if not in shape or size, and differ in that respect from people standing still; spheres are alike in shape,

    not in size or motion, and differ in that respect from cubes; and so on. Similarly with relations. Take Don and his son Bill, and Kim and her daughter Ann. Don's parent -- child relation to Bill holds also between Kim and Ann. In this respect these so-called ordered pairs-written (Don,Bill) (Kim,Ann) -- are like all other parent-child pairs, and differ from any other pair, like (Don, Ann) or the child-parent pair (Bill,Don), whose first member is not a parent of the second.

    Similarly with relations of three or more particulars. These are respects which ordered triples, quadruples etc. (n-tuples in general) may be alike or differ. Suppose Don is older than Kim, who is older than Bill, who is older than Ann. Then (Don,Kim,Bill) and (Ann,Bill,Don) are alike in that the middle member of each triple is between the other two in age -- if not perhaps in height or weight -- and differ in this respect from triples, like (Don,Bill,Kim), whose members are not ordered by age. Describing relations in this way, as properties of n-tuples of particulars, if of course

    course artificial, but the artifice has a point. The point is to remind us that properties and relations raise similar questions, about what it is for particulars and groups of particulars to differ or to be alike, questions that are best tackled together. And the answers to these questions matter both themselves and in their implications, e.g. for change: since to change in some respect is just to differ in that respect at different times. Thus a

    particular that differs in colour but not in shape at different times thereby changes its colour but not its shape, just as Bill's outgrowing his father is (Don,Bill) changing by ceasing to be an instance of the taller than relation. In what follows, we shall usually work with properties for ease of presentation. When what we say about properties does not apply to relations we shall say so and when there is something distinctive to be said about relations we shall say it.

    The most important questions about the kinds of sameness, difference and change that properties embody concern their reality and objectivity. Do particulars change or stay the same, resemble or differ from each other, independently of how we think of or describe them? That is, do properties exist in their own right-and if so which?

    But if these are the important questions about properties, they can hardly be our first ones. For just as we cannot know that unicorns do not exist (but that if they did they would do so independently of our thinking so) without knowing what unicorns are, so we cannot know whether and which properties exist without knowing what properties are. So our first question is this: what sort of entities are properties like running and relations like being taller than?

    This question involves at least two comparisons. First, how do properties relate to the predicates that apply to the particulars (and n-tuples of particulars) which have those properties: how are running and being taller than related to what `runs' and `is taller than' mean? And second, how do properties differ from and relate to the particulars that have them?

    These questions would be hard enough to answer if everyone agreed on the meanings of predicates, on what fixes their meanings and on the nature of the particulars they apply to. But these too are contentious matters, a fact which complicates our questions by making answers to them parts of semantic and metaphysical package deals, which need to be assessed en bloc. This fact, and the long history of the subject, also makes different writers use different terms for what we are calling `properties', `predicates' and 'particulars'-and also use these terms to mean different things. So to help readers understand the readings that follow and relate them to each other, we shall note in passing some of these other uses." (from the Introduction).

  40. Moreland, James Porter. 1985. Universals, Qualities, and Quality-Instances: A Defense of Realism. Lanham: University Press of America.

  41. ———. 1991. "How to Be a Nominalist in Realist Clothing." Grazer Philosophische Studien no. 39:75-101.

  42. ———. 2001. Universals. Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

    Contents: Preface and acknowledgements VII; 1. The problem(s) of universals 1; 2. Extreme nominalism and properties 23; 3. Moderate nominalism ands properties 50; 4. Minimalist realism: Wolterstorff's kinds and Armstrong's properties 74; 5. Traditional realism: properties are abstract objects 97; 6. Traditional realism: issues and objections 114; 7. The individuation of particulars 140; Notes 158; Bibliography 170; Index 181.

    "This book is a study in analytic ontology with a focus on issues and options at the core of the problem of universals. The problem of universals is actually a cluster of related issues central to debates among extreme nominalists, moderate nominalists and advocates of various forms of realism about the ontological status of properties. The book is intended to be an introduction to the topic and I have aimed the level of exposition at upper level undergraduates, graduate students and professional philosophers, and I believe the book should be of value to all three groups. Given the intended audience, the book is an introduction, not in the sense of being aimed at beginning students in philosophy, but in the sense of seeking to focus on the most important issues central to the subject matter. Because of this focus and space limitations, I have of necessity refrained from addressing certain topics in the study of universals that have been prominent in the past ten years, specifically: the relationship between higher and lower order universals; the relationship between universals and causation, laws of nature and scientific explanation; the use of moderate (especially trope) nominalism to do work in various areas of philosophy. As interesting as these topics may be, those who study them bring to their reflections positions on the more fundamental topics about universals. And, often, philosophers who discuss these current issues seem unfamiliar with or inadequately appraised of important distinctions and arguments at the core of those more fundamental topics. For these reasons, I have chosen to focus in this book on those subjects that have been of perennial importance to the study of universals. There is a gap in the recent literature in these areas on which I focus, and I have tried to make a contribution to filling that gap." (from the Preface).

  43. Newman, Andrew. 1992. The Physical Basis of Predication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  44. Oliver, Alex. 1992. "Could There Be Conjunctive Universals?" Analysis no. 52:88-103.

    "Recently D. H. Mellor (1) has revived an argument of Ramsey's against the existence of complex universals. Although he believes in simple universals, Mellor argues that negative, disjunctive and conjunctive universals do not exist. I will show that his argument rests on a contentious identity criterion for facts. Despite the recent renewal of interest in a metaphysics of facts, conspicuously little has been said about the relationship between a fact and its constituents. I sketch three models of this relationship, only one of which sanctions the identity criterion. It turns out that this model does not fit Mellor's interpretation of Ramsey's theory of facts. I conclude by showing that Ramsey's argument does nothing to rule out one kind of conjunctive universal." p. 88

    (1) D. H. Mellor, Properties and predicates, in his Matters of metaphysics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991 pp. 170-182.

  45. Quinton, Anthony. 1973. The Nature of Things. London: Routldge & Kegan Paul.

  46. Rodriguez-Pereyra, Gonzalo. 2000. "What Is the Problem of Universals?" Mind no. 109:255-273.

    "In this article I address the Problem of Universals by answering questions about what facts a solution to the Problem of Universals should explain and how the explanation should go. I argue that a solution to the Problem of Universals explains the facts the Problem of Universals is about by giving the truthmakers (as opposed to the conceptual content and the ontological commitments) of the sentences stating those facts. I argue that the sentences stating the relevant facts are those like "a has the property F", that is, sentences stating that a particular has a certain properly. Finally I show how answering these questions in this way transforms the Problem of Universals, traditionally conceived as the One over Many, that is, the problem of explaining how different particulars can have the same properties, into the Many over One, that is, the problem of explaining how the same particular can have different properties. The Problem of Universals is the problem of the Many over One."

  47. ———. 2002. Resemblance Nominalism. A Solution to the Problem of Universals. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  48. ———. 2002. "The Problem of Universals and the Limits of Conceptual Analysis." Philosophical Papers no. 31:39-47.

  49. Stegmüller, Wolfgang. 1977. "The Problem of Universals Then and Now." In Collected Papers on Epistemology, Philosophy of Science and History of Philosophy. Vol. I, 1-65. Dordrecht: Reidel.

    Original German: Das Universalienproblem eisnt und jetzt in: Archiv für Philosophie, 6 (1956) pp. 192-225 and 7 (1957) pp. 45-81.

  50. ———. 1978. Das Universalien-Problem. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

  51. Strawson, Peter Frederick, and Chakrabarti, Arindam, eds. 2006. Universals, Concepts and Qualities. New Essays on the Meaning of Predicates. Aldershot: Ashgate.

    Contents: Introduction byArindam Chakrabarti; Strawson on universals byPranab Kumar Sen; Reply to Pranab Sen by P.F. Strawson; Universals and other generalities by Jonardon Ganeri; Predicates and properties: an examination of P.K. Sens' theory of universals by Fraser McBride; Buddhist nominalism and desert ornithology by Mark Siderits; Universals transformed: the first thousand years after Plato by Richard Sorabji; Conceptualism by Chris Swoyer; The concept horse by Harold W. Noonan; Universals and particulars: Ramsey's scepticism by Bob Hale; How not to trivialize the identity of indiscernibles by Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra; Universals and the defence of ante rem realism by George Bealer; Particulars have their properties of necessity by David Armstrong; Properties in abundance by Wolfgang Künne; A category of particulars by P.F. Strawson; On perceiving properties byArindam Chakrabarti; Index.

  52. Teichmann, Roger. 1992. Abstract Entities. New York: St. Martin's Press.

  53. Urbani Ulivi, Lucia, ed. 1981. Gli Universali E La Formazione Dei Concetti. Milano: Edizioni di Comunità.

  54. Williams, Donald. 1986. "Universals and Existents." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 64 (1):14.

    "The somewhat dusty problem on which I engage us here is about as inclusive and 'ontological' as any, and I would introduce it by developing some implication of the remark that our philosophical object, the world, and each part of it, is (naturally enough) a totality of what is. The italicized phrase at once brings to the pedagogic mind certain further catchwords which point up the contrast between what a thing is and that it is. The 'what' here however has itself stood for two meanings. By 'what it is' we may mean it, the thing, the particular case it is, the individual subject, denoted by an` ordinary proper name, so that what exists when Socrates exists is Socrates; but we may mean again its nature, the kind it is, the character generally said to be connoted by a common noun or conveyed by descriptive adjectives and denoted by an abstract noun, so that to answer what exists when Socrates exists is to say that it is a man, is wise, is snubnosed, and so forth, or even that the 'what' of it is Humanity, Wisdom, Snubnosedness, etc. The dichotomy here is sometimes signalized by distinguishing within the import of the present 'what', considered in contrast with the 'that', a narrower sense of 'what' which we pedagogues sometimes express by '(the) such', viz., the kind or character, in contrast with '(the) this', viz., the case or instance. The, problem of universals, which is the clearer and easier of the problems associated with the opposition of 'essence and existence', is that of the real distinction and connection of the two referents of our more inclusive 'what', the such and this, and especially the assessment of the view that these involve an entity of one category, an abstract universal, which inheres in or qualifies an entity of another category, a concrete particular."

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This article by the late Professor Donald C. Williams (1899-1983) dates from about 1959.

  55. Wolterstorff, Nicholas. 1970. On Universals. An Essay in Ontology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  56. Zalabardo, José. 1996. "Predicates, Properties and the Goal of a Theory of Reference." Grazer Philosophische Studien no. 51:121-161.


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