Universals as respects of sameness

Abstract
This thesis argues for realism about universals—the view that, in addition to particular things, there exist universals instantiated by those particular things. The first half presents a positive case for realism. Here it is claimed that universals are needed in our ontology to serve as the respects in which things are the same, and the features or characteristics that things have in common.This argument is defended against nominalist responses, first, that our apparent ‘ontological commitment’ to features and characteristics is not genuine; and second, that the same theoretical work can be achieved by treating respects of sameness as sets of particulars or sets of tropes rather than sui generis universals.The second half of the thesis defends the realist against the most serious objections to an ontology of universals. These are the problems arising from the realist’s obligation to ascribe referential function to predicates, and the family of difficulties known as ‘‘Bradley’s Regress’’. By addressing both the reasons to believe in universals, and the alleged reasons not to believe in universals, it is hoped that a coherent case for realism is achieved.
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