In this paper I critically investigate an unorthodox attempt to metaphysically explain in virtue of what there are states of affairs. This is a suggestion according to which states of affairs exist thanks to, rather than, as is the common view, in spite of, the infinite regress their metaphysical explanation seems to engender. I argue that, no matter in which form it is defended, or in which theoretical framework it is set, this suggestion cannot provide us with the explanation we (...) crave. (shrink)
According to Johansson (2009: 22) an infinite regress is vicious just in case “what comes first [in the regress-order] is for its definition dependent on what comes afterwards.” Given a few qualifications (to be spelled out below (section 3)), I agree. Again according to Johansson (ibid.), one of the consequences of accepting this way of distinguishing vicious from benign regresses is that the so-called Russellian Resemblance Regress (RRR), if generated in a one-category trope-theoretical framework, is vicious and that, therefore, the (...) existence of tropes only makes sense if trope-theory is understood (minimally) as a two-category theory which accepts, besides the existence of tropes, also the existence of at least one universal: resemblance.1 I disagree. But how can that be? How can Johansson and I agree about what distinguishes a vicious from a benign regress, yet disagree about which regresses are vicious and which are benign? In this paper I attempt to answer that question by first setting out and defending the sense of viciousness which both Johansson and I accept, only to then argue that to be able to determine if a particular regress is vicious in this sense, more than features intrinsic to the regress itself must be taken into account. This is why, although the RRR as originally set out by Russell is vicious, the seemingly identical resemblance regress which ensues in a one-category (standard) trope-theoretical context is not (provided, that is, that we accept certain views about how the nature of tropes relates to the resemblance between tropes, and given that we set our theory in a truthmaker theoretical framework – all of which are standard assumptions for proponents of (the standard-version of) the trope-theory).2. (shrink)
That there could be ontologically complex concrete particulars is self-evidently true. A reductio may however be formulated which contradicts this truth. In this paper I argue that all of the reasonable ways in which we might refute this reductio will require the existence of at least some tropes.
Trope theory is the view that the world is a world of abstract particular qualities. But if all there is are tropes, how do we account for the truth of propositions ostensibly made true by some concrete particular? A common answer is that concrete particulars are nothing but tropes in compresence. This answer seems vulnerable to an argument (first presented by F. H. Bradley) according to which any attempt to account for the nature of relations will end up either in (...) contradiction, nonsense, or will lead to a vicious infinite regress. I investigate Bradley’s argument and claim that it fails to prove what it sets out to. It fails, I argue, because it does not take all the different ways in which relation and relata may depend on one another into account. If relations are entities that are distinct from yet essentially dependent upon their relata, the Bradleyan problem is solved. We are then free to say that tropes in compresence are what make true propositions ostensibly made true by concrete particulars. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the infinite regress of resemblance is vicious in the guise it is given by Russell but that it is virtuous if generated in a (contemporary) trope theoretical framework. To explain why this is so I investigate the infinite regress argument. I find that there is but one interesting and substantial way in which the distinction between vicious and virtuous regresses can be understood: The Dependence Understanding. I argue, furthermore, that to be able to decide (...) whether an infinite regress exhibits a dependence pattern of a vicious or a virtuous kind, facts about the theoretical context in which it is generated become essential. It is precisely because of differences in context that he Russellian resemblance regress is vicious whereas its trope theoretical counterpart is not. (shrink)
The treatise attempts to approach and deal with some of the most fundamental problems facing anyone who wishes to uphold some version of the so-called theory of tropes. Three assumptions serve as a basis for the investigation: (i) tropes (i.e. particular properties) exist, (ii) only tropes exist (that is, tropes are the only basic or fundamental kinds of entities), and (iii) a one-category trope-theory along these lines should be developed so that the tropes it postulates are able to serve as (...) truth-makers for all kinds of atomic propositions. Provided that these assumptions are accepted, it is found that the trope-theorist will have to deal with two important problems. First, some atomic propositions seem to require universal truth-makers. Second, some atomic propositions seem to require concrete truth-makers. As tropes are abstract particulars, it follows that the trope-theorist, in order to fulfil assumption (iii), must provide an account of exactly how he or she could construct universality and concreteness from his or her basic stock of tropes. In the treatise such constructions are attempted and some basic problems with such constructions are revealed (mainly problems having to do with the threat of regress). Although these problems are serious enough it is argued that it is nevertheless possible to deal with these basic issues while staying squarely within the boundaries of a one-category trope-ontology. (shrink)