On Types and Words

Abstract
Peirce illustrated the type-token distinction by means of the definite article: there is only one word type “the,” but there are likely to be about twenty tokens of it on this page. Not all tokens are inscriptions; some are sounds, whispered or shouted, and some are smoke signals. The type “the” is neither written ink nor spoken sound; it is an abstract object. Or consider the Grizzly Bear, Ursus arctos horribilis. At one time its U.S. range was most of the area west of the Missouri River and it numbered 10,000 in California alone. Today it numbers less than 1,000. Of course no particular bear numbers 1,000 and no particular bear ever had a range comprising most of the area west of the Missouri. It is a type of bear, a species of bear, that has both properties.We are all familiar with this way of talking about types of things. But—aside from being universals—what are types? What makes a token of one type rather than another? How do we know it is a token of that type? Do some types fail to have tokens? What, if anything, do all and only tokens of a particular type have in common other than being tokens of that type? The first half of the paper answers the last question (“Nothing beyond being a token of the type”). The second half contains sketches of answers to the other questions
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