Trope theory and the ontology of chemistry

Foundations of Chemistry 11 (2):93-103 (2009)
The traditional ontology within which chemistry has developed involved various versions of a general substance/attribute scheme. Recently this has been challenged by two versions of Dynamism. One version is derived from the writings of A. N. Whitehead and the other from several sources, including G. Leibniz and I. Kant. Both involve the idea of flux of actual occasions. Unlike the former scheme, the latter involves a foundation of causal powers and the energetics of field theory. The situation has been made more interesting because of the revival of trope theory, based on an ontology of particularized attributes. This notion is claimed to resolve philosophical problems about the nature of universals and of substances through the introduction of spatial and temporal sequences of tropes. While trope theory seems, at first sight, to work as an attractive alternative to substance/attribute close inspection shows that it is beset with difficulties that are more problematic that the dynamist ontology based on casual powers, dispositions and affordances.
Keywords Substance  Property  Universal  Chemistry  Trope
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DOI 10.1007/s10698-008-9052-7
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D. M. Armstrong (1993). A World of States of Affairs. Philosophical Perspectives 7 (3):429-440.

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