David Lewis famously argued against structural universals since they allegedly required what he called a composition “sui generis” that differed from standard mereological com¬position. In this paper it is shown that, although traditional Boolean mereology does not describe parthood and composition in its full generality, a better and more comprehensive theory is provided by the foundational theory of categories. In this category-theoretical framework a theory of structural universals can be formulated that overcomes the conceptual difficulties that Lewis and (...) his followers regarded as unsurmountable. As a concrete example of structural universals groups are considered in some detail. (shrink)
This collection of articles and review essays, including many hard to find pieces, comprises the most important and fundamental studies of Indian logic and linguistics ever undertaken. Frits Staal is concerned with four basic questions: Are there universals of logic that transcend culture and time? Are there universals of language and linguistics? What is the nature of Indian logic? And what is the nature of Indian linguistics? By addressing these questions, Staal demonstrates that, contrary to the general assumption (...) among Western philosophers, the classical philosophers of India were rationalists, attentive to arguments. They were in this respect unlike contemporary Western thinkers inspired by existentialism or hermeneutics, and like the ancient Chinese, Greeks, and many medieval European schoolmen, only--as Staal says--more so. Universals establishes that Asia's contributions are not only compatible with what has been produced in the West, but a necessary ingredient and an essential component of any future human science. (shrink)
Universals are a class of mind independent entities, usually contrasted with individuals, postulated to ground and explain relations of qualitative identity and resemblance among individuals. Individuals are said to be similar in virtue of sharing universals. An apple and a ruby are both red, and their common redness results from sharing a universal. If they are both red at the same time, the universal, red, must be in two places at once. This makes universals quite different from (...) individuals, and controversial. Whether universals are in fact required to explain relations of qualitative identity and resemblance among individuals has engaged metaphysicians for two thousand years. Disputants fall into one of three broad camps. Realists endorse universals. Conceptualists and Nominalists, on the other hand, refuse to accept universals and deny that they are needed. Conceptualists explain similarity among individuals by appealing to general concepts or ideas, things that exist only in minds. Nominalists, in contrast, are content to leave relations of qualitative resemblance brute and ungrounded. Numerous versions of Nominalism have been proposed, some with a great deal of sophistication. Contemporary philosophy has seen the rise of a new form of Nominalism, one that makes use of a special class of individuals, known as tropes. Familiar individuals have many properties, but tropes are single property instances. Whether Trope Nominalism improves on earlier Nominalist theories is the subject of much recent debate. In general, questions surrounding universals touch upon some of the oldest, deepest, and most abstract of philosophical issues. (shrink)
Conceptual primitives and semantic universals are the cornerstones of a semantic theory which Anna Wierzbicka has been developing for many years. Semantics: Primes and Universals is a major synthesis of her work, presenting a full and systematic exposition of that theory in a non-technical and readable way. It delineates a full set of universal concepts, as they have emerged from large-scale investigations across a wide range of languages undertaken by the author and her colleagues. On the basis of (...) empirical cross-linguistic studies it vindicates the old notion of the "psychic unity of mankind", while at the same time offering a framework for the rigorous description of different languages and cultures. (shrink)
This paper argues for an ontological distinction between two kinds of universals, 'kinds of tropes' such as 'wisdom' and properties such as 'the property of being wise'. It argues that the distinction is parallel to that between two kinds of collections, pluralities such as 'the students' and collective objects such as 'the class'. The paper argues for the priortity of distributive readings with pluralities on the basis of predicates of extent or shape, such 'large' or 'long'.
Abstract This paper contrasts the scholastic realisms of David Armstrong and Charles Peirce. It is argued that the so-called ?problem of universals? is not a problem in pure ontology (concerning whether universals exist) as Armstrong construes it to be. Rather, it extends to issues concerning which predicates should be applied where, issues which Armstrong sets aside under the label of ?semantics?, and which from a Peircean perspective encompass even the fundamentals of scientific methodology. It is argued that Peirce's (...) scholastic realism not only presents a more nuanced ontology (distinguishing the existent from the real) but also provides more of a sense of why realism should be a position worth fighting for. (shrink)
There has been much discussion of late on what exactly the Problem of Universals is and is not. Of course answers to these questions and many more like it depend on what is supposed to be explained by a solution to the Problem of Universals. In this paper, I seek to establish two claims: first, that when the facts (explanada) to be explained and the kind of explanation needed are elucidated, it will be shown that the Problem of (...)Universals is a real metaphysical problem, not a pseudo problem; secondly, the facts whose explanation posed the problem in the Problem of Universals still provide reason to think realism regarding universals is true, even if God exists. (shrink)
In this short text, a distinguished philosopher turns his attention to one of the oldest and most fundamental philosophical problems of all: How it is that we are able to sort and classify different things as being of the same natural class? Professor Armstrong carefully sets out six major theories—ancient, modern, and contemporary—and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of each. Recognizing that there are no final victories or defeats in metaphysics, Armstrong nonetheless defends a traditional account of universals as (...) the most satisfactory theory we have.This study is written for advanced students, but as Armstrong goes considerably beyond his earlier work on this topic, it will interest professional scholars as well. Carefully plotted and clearly written, Universals is both a paradigm of exposition and a case study on the value of careful analysis of fundamental issues in philosophy. (shrink)
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 (p. -308). (shrink)
Universals: Loux, M. J. The existence of universals. Russell, B. The world of universals. Quine, W. V. O. On what there is. Pears, D. F. Universals. Strawson, P. F. Particular and general. Wolterstorff, N. Qualities. Bambrough, R. Universals and family resemblances. Donagan, A. Universals and metaphysical realism. Sellars, W. Abstract entities. Wolterstorff, N. On the nature of universals.--Particulars: Loux, M. J. Particulars and their individuation. Black. M. The identity of indiscernibles. Ayer, A. J. (...) The identity of indiscernibles. O'Connor, D. J. The identity of indiscernibles. Allaire, E. B. Bare particulars. Chappell, V. C. Particulars re-clothed. Allaire, E. B. Another look at bare particulars. Meiland, J. W. Do relations individuate? Long, D. C. Particulars and their qualities. Copi, I. Essence and accident. Chandler, H. S. Essence and accident. Plantinga, A. World and essence. (shrink)
My goal in this paper is to defend the plausibility of a particular version of collectivism – understood as the evolutionary claim that individual-level cognition is systematically biased in favor of aggregate-level regularities – in the domain of language. Chomsky's (1986) methodological promotion of I-language (speaker-internal knowledge) and the corresponding demotion of E-language (aggregate output of a population of speakers) has led mainstream cognitive science to view language essentially as a property of individual minds/brains whose evolution is best explained as (...) a result of the natural selection of an innate language faculty (Pinker 1994). Such a framework is largely oblivious to the linguistic dynamics arising from iterated learning, i.e. the fact that linguistic information must be periodically mapped from its I-linguistic into its E-linguistic medium and back in order to persist over time. Recent expression/induction models of language evolution, which are heavily inspired by the simulation-based methodology of Artificial Life, suggest that linguistic universals, such as compositional and recursive structure, can emerge from cultural selection alone (Brighton et al. 2005). I will conclude that there is both a biological and a cultural route towards collectivism. (shrink)
Scotus recidivus? -- On the structure of material substance in Scotus' metaphysics -- Substantial natures : neither singular nor universal, but common -- On individuation by the haecceity -- Numerical singular created natures and supposita.
Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra offers a fresh philosophical account of properties. How is it that two different things (such as two red roses) can share the same property (redness)? According to resemblance nominalism, things have their properties in virtue of resembling other things. This unfashionable view is championed with clarity and rigor.
Proponents of evolutionary psychology take the existence of humanuniversals to constitute decisive evidence in favor of their view. Ifthe same social norms are found in culture after culture, we have goodreason to believe that they are innate, they argue. In this paper Ipropose an alternative explanation for the existence of humanuniversals, which does not depend on them being the product of inbuiltpsychological adaptations. Following the work of Brian Skyrms, I suggestthat if a particular convention possesses even a very small advantageover (...) competitors, whatever the reason for that advantage, we shouldexpect it to become the norm almost everywhere. Tiny advantages aretranslated into very large basins of attraction, in the language of gametheory. If this is so, universal norms are not evidence for innatepsychological adaptations at all. Having shown that the existence ofuniversals is consistent with the so-called Standard Social ScienceModel, I turn to a consideration of the evidence, to show that thisstyle of explanation is preferable to the evolutionary explanation, atleast with regard to patterns of gender inequality. (shrink)
There cannot be a reductive theory of modality constructed from the concepts of sparse particular and sparse universal. These concepts are suffused with modal notions. I seek to establish this conclusion by tracing out the pattern of modal entanglements in which these concepts are involved. In order to appreciate the structure of these entanglements a distinction must be drawn between the lower-order necessary connections in which particulars and universals apparently figure, and higher-order necesary connections. The former type of (...) connection relates specific entities. By contrast, the latter type of connection is unspecific: it relates entities to some others. I argue that whilst there may be techniques that succeed in providing reductive truth conditions for sentences that say particulars and universals figure in lower-order necessary connections, such techniques cannot succeed in providing reductive truth conditions for sentences that say these entities figure in higher-order necessary connections. I conclude that this situation leaves reductionists with a dilemma. If they wish to affirm that there are particulars and universals then the project of reducing modality by positing these entities must be abandoned. Alternatively, they may continue to deploy their usual reductive techniques but then they must abandon the doctrine that there is more than one fundamental category of entity. (shrink)
Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra offers a fresh philosophical account of properties. How is it that two different things (such as two red roses) can share the same property (redness)? According to resemblance nominalism, things have their properties in virtue of resembling other things. This unfashionable view is championed with clarity and rigor.
The relation between universal and particular is considered to be the Achilles’ heel of universal realism. However, modern universal realism with facts does not have the difficulties which traditional Platonic universal realism had. Its exemplification relation connecting particulars and universals in atomic facts is very different from Platonic participation. Bradley’s regress argument against the exemplification relation can be refuted in two different ways. Nevertheless, there are good reasons to avoid the assumption of an exemplification relation and thus to go (...) without the Achilles’ heel altogether. (shrink)
Cognitive science depends on abstractions made from the complex reality of human behaviour. Cognitive scientists typically wish the abstractions in their theories to be universals, but seldom attend to the ontology of universals. Two sorts of universal, resulting from Galilean abstraction and materialist abstraction respectively, are available in the philosophical literature: the abstract universal—the one-over-many universal—is the universal conventionally employed by cognitive scientists; in contrast, a concrete universal is a material entity that can appear within the set of (...) entities it describes, of which it represents the essential, paradigmatic case. The potential role of concrete universals in cognitive science is discussed. (shrink)
Presented here is an argument for the existence of universals. Like Church's translation-test argument, the argument turns on considerations from intensional logic. But whereas Church's argument turns on the fine-grained informational content of intensional sentences, this argument turns on the distinctive logical features of 'that'-clauses embedded within modal contexts. And unlike Church's argument, this argument applies against truth-conditions nominalism and also against conceptualism and in re realism (the doctrine that universals are ontologically dependent upon the existence of (...) instances). So if the argument is successful, it serves as a defense of full ante rem realism (the doctrine that universals exist independently of the existence of instances). The argument emphasizes the need for a unified treatment of intensional statements -- modal statements as well as statements of assertion and belief. The larger philosophical moral will be that ante rem universals are uniquely suited to carry a certain kind of modal information. Linguistic entities, mind-dependent universals, and instance-dependent universals are incapable of serving that function. (shrink)
In just a few years, children achieve a stable state of linguistic competence, making them effectively adults with respect to: understanding novel sentences, discerning relations of paraphrase and entailment, acceptability judgments, etc. One familiar account of the language acquisition process treats it as an induction problem of the sort that arises in any domain where the knowledge achieved is logically underdetermined by experience. This view highlights the cues that are available in the input to children, as well as childrens skills (...) in extracting relevant information and forming generalizations on the basis of the data they receive. Nativists, on the other hand, contend that language-learners project beyond their experience in ways that the input does not even suggest. Instead of viewing language acqusition as a special case of theory induction, nativists posit a Universal Grammar, with innately specified linguistic principles of grammar formation. The nature versus nurture debate continues, as various poverty of stimulus arguments are challenged or supported by developments in linguistic theory and by findings from psycholinguistic investigations of child language. In light of some recent challenges to nativism, we rehearse old poverty-of stimulus arguments, and supplement them by drawing on more recent work in linguistic theory and studies of child language. (shrink)
The formula of universal law (FUL) is a natural starting point for philosophers interested in a Kantian perspective on the morality of abortion. I argue, however, that FUL does not yield much in the way of promising or substantive conclusions regarding the morality of abortion. I first reveal how two philosophers' (Hare's and Gensler's) attempts to use Kantian considerations of universality and prescriptivity fail to provide analyses of abortion that are either compelling or true to Kant=s understanding of FUL. I (...) then turn to some recent interpretations of Kant=s FUL contradiction in conception (CC) and contradiction in will (CW) tests. I argue that none of the interpretations of the CC testBincluding the practical interpretation favored by KorsgaardBdoes much to reveal moral problems with maxims of abortion. The CW test (as developed by Herman) is more helpful. Nevertheless, I argue that neither by considering abortion maxims as a subset of maxims of convenience killing, nor by considering such maxims as maxims of refusing to aid, can the CW test generate a general prohibition of abortion. At best, the CW test illuminates the abortion issue because by forcing us to think about how killing a fetus differs from killing other human beings, what attitudes we may reasonably have toward a fetus, and whether Kant's moral theory must be amended to do justice to the problem of abortion. But to pursue these questions, we must look beyond FUL; Kant’s formula of humanity and doctrine of virtue may well have more to offer. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that there are universals. I begin (Sect. 1) by proposing a sufficient condition for a thing’s being a universal. I then argue (Sect. 2) that some truths exist necessarily. Finally, I argue (Sects. 3 and 4) that these truths are structured entities having constituents that meet the proposed sufficient condition for being universals.
This paper summarizes and extends the transmodal argument for the existence of universals (developed in full detail in "Universals"). This argument establishes not only the existence of universals, but also that they exist necessarily, thereby confirming the ante rem view against the post rem and in re views (and also anti-existentialism against existentialism). Once summarized, the argument is extended to refute the trope theory of properties and is also shown to succeed even if possibilism is assumed. A (...) nonreductionist theory of universals and properties is then outlined, and it is sketched how to reap the benefits of possibilism and Meinongianism in an actualist setting. (shrink)
This paper provides an axiomatic formalization of a theory of foundational relations between three categories of entities: individuals, universals, and collections. We deal with a variety of relations between entities in these categories, including the is-a relation among universals and the part-of relation among individuals as well as cross-category relations such as instance-of, member-of, and partition-of. We show that an adequate understanding of the formal properties of such relations – in particular their behavior with respect to time – (...) is critical for formal ontology. We provide examples to support this thesis from the domain of biomedicine. (shrink)
This book provides an analysis of the debate surrounding cultural diversity, and attempts to reconcile the seemingly opposing views of "ethical imperialism," the belief that each individual is entitled to fundamental human rights, and cultural relativism, the belief that ethics must be relative to particular cultures and societies. The author examines the role of cultural tradition, often used as a defense against critical ethical judgments. Key issues in health and medicine are explored in the context of cultural diversity: the physician-patient (...) relationship, disclosing a diagnosis of a fatal illness, informed consent, brain death and organ transplantation, rituals surrounding birth and death, female genital mutilation, sex selection of offspring, fertility regulation, and biomedical research involving human subjects. Among the conclusions the author reaches are that ethical universals exist, but must not be confused with ethical absolutes. The existence of ethical universals is compatible with a variety of culturally relative interpretations, and some rights related to medicine and health care should be considered human rights. Illustrative examples are drawn from the author's experiences serving on international ethical review committees and her travels to countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where she conducted educational workshops and carried out out her own research. (shrink)
What is the Problem of Universals? In this paper we take up the classic question and proceed as follows. In Sect. 1 we consider three problem solving settings and define the notion of problem solving accordingly. Basically I say that to solve problems is to eliminate undesirable, unspecified, or apparently incoherent scenarios. In Sect. 2 we apply the general observations from Sect. 1 to the Problem of Universals. More specifically, we single out two accounts of the problem which (...) are based on the idea of eliminating apparently incoherent scenarios, and then propose modifications of those two accounts which, by contrast, are based on the idea of eliminating unspecified scenarios. In Sect. 3 we spell out two interesting ramifications. (shrink)
In this paper I explore the logical relationship between the question of the reality of qualia and the problem of universals. I argue that nominalism is inconsistent with the existence of qualia, and that realism either implies or makes plausible the existence of qualia. Thus, one's position on the existence of qualia is strongly constrained by one's answer to the problem of universals.
Lewis has objected to Armstrong's notion of a structural universal on the grounds that it violates the Principle of Uniqueness of Composition (PUC), which says that given some parts, there is only one whole that they compose. This paper reviews Armstrong's case for structural universals, and then attempts to reconcile structural universals with PUC by arguing for the existence of arrangement universals. The latter are not only a key to defending structural universals against Lewis' objection, but (...) are in fact essential to Armstrong's conception of structural universals in general. Three objections to my proposal are deflected, and two alternative proposals are shown to be inferior to it. (shrink)
Slot theory is the view that (i) there exist such entities as argument places, or ‘slots’, in universals, and that (ii) a universal u is n-adic if and only if there are n slots in u. I argue that those who take properties and relations to be abundant, fine-grained, non-set-theoretical entities face pressure to be slot theorists. I note that slots permit a natural account of the notion of adicy. I then consider a series of ‘slot-free’ accounts of that (...) notion and argue that each of them has significant drawbacks. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore the origins of the ‘problem of universals’. I argue that the problem has come to be badly formulated and that consideration of it has been impeded by falsely supposing that Platonic Forms were ever intended as an alternative to Aristotelian universals. In fact, the role that Forms are supposed by Plato to fulfill is independent of the function of a universal. I briefly consider the gradual mutation of the problem in the Academy, in (...) Alexander of Aphrodisias, and among some of the major Neoplatonic commentators on Aristotle, including Porphyry and Boethius. (shrink)
Apart from his Consolation of Philosophy, perhaps the most well known text of Boethius is his discussion of universals in the Second Commentary on Porphyry’s Isagoge.1 In that passage, he first reviews the arguments for and against the existence of universal entities, and then offers a theory he attributes to Alexander of Aphrodisias, a kind of theory called in recent times “moderate realism,” according to which there are no universal entities in the ontology of the world, but nevertheless there (...) is an objective, non-arbitrary basis for the formation of our universal or general concepts about that world. At the very end of the passage, Boethius adds the intriguing comment that he has presented this view not necessarily because it is his own, but because it is the one that fits Aristotle’s.. (shrink)
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 property. 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. (shrink)
It is often claimed that Realism about universals is problematic because it cannot account for the relation between particulars and universals without falling prey to ,,Bradley's regress". In this article, I consider four different versions of this regress argument (the semantic regress, the explanatory regress, the ,One over Many' regress, and the truthmaker regress), each based on a different ,regress-generating' assumption. I argue that none of these arguments succeeds in refuting Realism. Still, I contend that two interesting conclusions (...) can be drawn from the discussion. First, ,Bradleyan' regress problems show that some arguments for Realism have to be abolished because they involve ,regress-generating' assumptions. Second, these problems suggest that Realists about universals should opt for a nominalistic treatment of the ,exempflification relation'. As it turns out, this account of exemplification has the further advantage of being more in line with a science-oriented metaphysics than all the traditional alternatives. German Es wird oft behauptet, dass der Universalienrealismus problematisch ist, weil er die Beziehung zwischen Partikularen (Einzeldingen) und Universalien nicht erklären kann, ohne ,,Bradleys Regress zum Opfer zu fallen. In diesem Artikel betrachte ich vier verschiedene Versionen des Regresses (den semantischen Regress, den explanatorischen Regress, den ,,One over Many-Regress und den Wahrmacher-Regress), die alle von unterschiedlichen ,,regress-generie-renden Voraussetzungen ausgehen. Ich argumentiere dafür, dass keines dieser Regressargumente den Universalienrealismus widerlegt. Dennoch, so behaupte ich, können aus der Diskussion zwei interessante Schlussfolgerungen gezogen werden: Erstens zeigen ,Bradleysche' Regressproblem, dass einige Argumente für den Universalienrealismus aufgegeben werden müssen, weil sie sich auf ,,regress-generierende Voraussetzungen stützen; zweitens legen diese Probleme nahe, dass sich der Universalienrealist bei der Behandlung der ,,Exemplifikationsrelation für eine nominalistische Strategie entscheiden sollte. Wie sich herausstellt, hat diese Analyse von Exemplifikation zudem den Vorteil, besser zu einer wissenschaftsorientierten Metaphysik zu passen als die traditionellen Alternativen. (shrink)
It is argued that a number of related influential contemporary solutions to certain problems of the “realism–nominalism issue” seem to depend on an interpretation of those problems rather than upon observations of things. The problem of universals is a case in point. Therefore, there is a problem of the problem of universals and it has to be clarified what the problem of universals is. A primitive or uninterpreted raising of the problem is the main pupose of this (...) paper. In order to accomplish such a task, a methodological statement is made in the first place, namely that the philosophical talk used by some property theorists to raise and answer “realism–nominalism” questions can provide us with a tool to discover when ontological analyses of things are consequences of interpretations. In the second place, a particular influential contemporary interpretation of particulars, universals, exemplification, and facts led by Armstrong, Mertz, Wolterstorff, Butchvarov, and Lowe, which I shall call “The Dogma of Repetition,” is extensively discussed. (shrink)
The paper provides close commentary on an important but generally neglected passage in "Prior Analytics" B.21 where, in the course of solving a logical puzzle concerning our knowledge of universal statements, Aristotle offers his only explicit treatment of the Platonic doctrine of Recollection. I show how Aristotle defends his solution to the "Paradox of Knowing Universals", as we might call it, and why he introduces Recollection into his discussion of the puzzle. The reading I develop undermines the traditional view (...) of the passage and lends fresh insight into Aristotle's conception of Plato's particular version of innatism; more specifically, when understood as I recommend, the passage strongly suggests that, on Aristotle's view, Plato's theory of Recollection is specifically designed to explain our apprehension of universal truths. The reading I propose also enables us to see how the allegedly non-standard use of the technical term ἐπαγω³ή in B.21 can be understood in a perfectly straightforward fashion to refer to an inductive inference from singular statements to the universal truth they exemplify. Owing to this last point in particular, the paper carries serious consequences for our understanding of the purported doublet in the problematic opening chapter to the "Posterior Analytics" where Aristotle offers his only explicit attempt to solve Meno's Paradox. (shrink)
Armstrong's combinatorialism, in his own words, is the following project: "My central metaphysical hypothesis is that all there is is the world of space and time. It is this world which is to supply the actual elements for the totality of combinations. So what is proposed is a Naturalistic form of a combinatorial theory."2 Armstrong calls his central hypothesis "Naturalism." He intends his well−known theory of universals to satisfy this thesis. He now attempts to give a naturalistic theory of (...) modality. (shrink)
Some argue that theories of universals should incorporate structural universals, in order to allow for the metaphysical possibility of worlds of 'infinite descending complexity' ('onion worlds'). I argue that the possibility of such worlds does not establish the need for structural universals. So long as we admit the metaphysical possibility of emergent universals, there is an attractive alternative description of such cases.
The notion of similarity plays a central role in Quine’s theory of Universals and it is with the help of this notion that Quine intends to define the concept of kind which also plays a central role in the theory. But as Quine has admitted, his attempts to define kinds in terms of similarities were unsuccessful and it is mainly because of this shortcoming that Quine’s theory has been ignored by several philosophers (see, e.g., Armstrong, D. M. (1978a). Nominalism (...) and realism: Universals and Scientific realism (Vol. I). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). In the present paper, I propose an alternative framework that accounts for the phenomena that Quine intends to explain with his resemblance theory. The framework agrees with Quine’s austere ontology; in particular, it does not assume the existence of properties and of possible worlds. (I will mention below Quine’s reason for rejecting properties and possible worlds. For a theory of Universals that assumes possible worlds, see, e.g., Rodriguez-Pereyra, G. (2002). Resemblance nominalism: A solution to the problem of Universals. Oxford: Clarendon Press.) Moreover, the framework is extensionalist since the abstract entities it assumes are classes and these can be individuated extensionally, for classes are identical if their members are identical. Finally, I will refute some of the objections to Quine’s approach that have been raised by Armstrong and Oliver [(1996). The metaphysics of properties. Mind, 105, 1–80.] and I will argue that, contrary to what has been claimed by Oliver in a comment on Lewis [(1986). On the plurality of worlds. Oxford: Blackwell.], Quine is able to specify an important set of sparse properties. (shrink)
The controversies surrounding Daniel Everett's characterization of the Amazonian language Pirahã and the Evans and Levinson paper about "the myth of language universals" (2009) are just two recent manifestations of a debate about linguistic theory and methodology that is anything but new.
Armstrong's theory of laws of nature as relations between universals gives an initially plausible account of why the causal powers of substances are bound together only in certain ways, so that the world is a very regular place. But its resulting theory of causation cannot account for intentional causation, since this involves an agent trying to do something, and trying is causing. This kind of causation is thus a state of an agent and does not involve the operation of (...) a law. It is simpler to suppose that non-intentional causing is also causing by substances (and not events) in virtue of their powers to act. That raises again the question of why their powers are bound together only in certain ways. The most probable answer is that God, the simplest kind of person there could be, brings this about because it is necessary for the existence of finite rational creatures such as ourselves. (shrink)
There is no single problem of universals but a family of difficulties that treat of a variety of interwoven metaphysical, epistemological, logical and semantic themes. This makes the problem of universals resistant to canonical reduction (to a ‘once-and-for-all’ concern). In particular, the problem of universals cannot be reduced to the problem of supplying truth-makers for sentences that express sameness of type. This is (in part) because the conceptual distinction between numerical and qualitative identity must first be drawn (...) before a sentence is eligible to be supplied with truth-makers. The case is made through a consideration of a recent argument by Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra. (shrink)
I will consider Armstrong's problems in trying to account for structural universals, i.e., a kind of complex universal whose instantiation by particulars involves different parts of those particulars instantiating several basic properties and relations, such as the property of being a molecule of methane. I present and criticise Armstrong's most recent attempt to explain structural properties by means of the identification of universals with types of states of affairs and I state my own solution to the problem by (...) appealing to formal relations holding between particulars. (shrink)
Armstrong holds that a law of nature is a certain sort of structural universal which, in turn, fixes causal relations between particular states of affairs. His claim that these nomic structural universals explain causal relations commits him to saying that such universals are irreducible, not supervenient upon the particular causal relations they fix. However, Armstrong also wants to avoid Plato’s view that a universal can exist without being instantiated, a view which he regards as incompatible with naturalism. This (...) construal of naturalism forces Armstrong to say that universals are abstractions from a certain class of particulars; they are abstractions from first-order states of affairs, to be more precise. It is here argued that these two tendencies in Armstrong cannot be reconciled: To say that universals are abstractions from first-order states of affairs is not compatible with saying that universals fix causal relations between particulars. Causal relations are themselves states of affairs of a sort, and Armstrong’s claim that a law is a kind of structural universal is best understood as the view that any given law logically supervenes on its corresponding causal relations. The result is an inconsistency, Armstrong having to say that laws do not supervene on particular causal relations while also being committed to the view that they do so supervene. The inconsistency is perhaps best resolved by denying that universals are abstractions from states of affairs. (shrink)
Cognitive definitions cannot accommodate fear as it occurs in species incapable of sophisticated cognition. Some think that fear must, therefore, be noncognitive. This paper explores another option, arguably more in line with evolutionary theory: that like other "biological universals" fear admits of variation across and within species. A paradigm case of such universals is species: it is argued that they can be defined by ostension in the manner of Putnam and Kripke without implying that they must have an (...) invariable essence. Emotions can be defined in this way too, in principle, but the theoretical understanding of homology necessary to do so is lacking at present. (shrink)
Realists, D. M. Armstrong among them, claim, contrary to natural class nominalists, that natural classes are analysable. Natural classes of particulars, claim the realists, can be analysed in terms of particulars having universals in common. But for the realist, there are also natural classes of universals. And if the realist's claim that natural classes are analysable is a general claim about natural classes, then the realist must also provide an analysis of natural classes of universals. For Armstrong, (...) the unity (or naturalness) of a natural class of universals is analysed in terms of universals resembling each other. I argue that Armstrong's account fails. His account fails for the same reason all other resemblance accounts of natural classes fail: some arbitrary classes satisfy the analysis for natural classes. (shrink)
The paper ends with an argument that says: necessarily, if there are finitely spatially extended particulars, then there are monadic universals. Before that, in order to characterize the distinction between particulars and universals, Roman Ingardenâs notions of existential moments and modes (ways) of being are presented, and a new pair of such existential moments is introduced: multiplicityâmonadicity. Also, it is argued that there are not only real universals, but instances of universals (tropes) and fictional universals (...) too. (shrink)
What all contemporary so-called aristotelian realists have in common has been identified by David Armstrong as the principle of instantiation. This principle has been put forward in different versions, but all of them have the following simple consequence in common: uninstantiated universals do not exist. Such entities are for the lotus-eating Platonist to countenance, but not for any sort of moderate realist. I shall argue that this principle, in any guise, is not the best way to differentiate aristotelianism from (...) Platonism. In its place, I shall suggest that the best way to differentiate the two versions of realism from each other is by means of a far more powerful idea: naturalism. And the surprising conclusion given this means of differentiation will be that contrary to the usual proclamations, Platonism will be the more naturalistic theory, whereas aristotelianism will come to be seen for what it really is, namely, non-naturalistic. (shrink)
The problem of universals arises when philosophy attempts to give an account of the relationship mind and objects, between language and the world. How do words succeed in being about things? In this paper I show how the problem of universals arises out of a particular theory about the relationship of words to things and that when an alternative theory is accepted the notion of universal dissipates and is replaced by the concept of meaning. Meaning, however, has its (...) own problems. In the end I conclude that there are no universals. (shrink)
It has become commonplace in introductions to Indian philosophy to construe Plato’s discussion of forms (εἶδος/ἰδέα) and the treatment in Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika of universals ( sāmānya/jāti ) as addressing the same philosophical issue, albeit in somewhat different ways. While such a comparison of the similarities and differences has interest and value as an initial reconnaissance of what each says about common properties, an examination of the roles that universals play in the rest of their philosophical enquiries vitiates (...) this commonplace. This paper draws upon the primary texts to identify the following metaphysical, epistemological, semantic and soteriological roles that universals play in the philosophy of Plato and of Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika: Metaphysical: causal of the existence of x Metaphysical: constitutive of the identity/essence of x Epistemological: cognitively causal (i.e. of the cognition of one over many) Epistemological: epistemically causal (i.e. of knowledge of x) Semantic: necessary condition of speech and reason Epistemological: vindicatory of induction (Nyāya only) Metaphysical: explanatory of causation (Nyāya only) Soteriological: cathartic contemplation (Plato only) These roles provide us with motivations or reasons to believe that universals exist. As we examine these motivations, we find pressures mounting against our assimilating Platonic forms and the universals of Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika in the discourse about common properties. It is especially when we appreciate the utterly different contribution that universals make in securing our highest welfare that we realize how Plato and the two sister schools are not so much talking somewhat differently about the same thing, but talking somewhat similarly about different things. This better understanding of this difference in these philosophies opens a route for our better understanding of their unique contributions in the ongoing dialogue of philosophy. (shrink)
This paper concerns the structure of appearances. I argue that to be appeared to in a certain way is to be aware of one or more universals. Universals therefore function like the sense-data, once highly favoured but now out of fashion. For instance, to be appeared to treely, in a visual way, is to be aware of the complex relation, being treeshaped and tree-coloured and being in front of, a relation of a kind which could be instantiated by (...) a material object and a perceiver, which is thus instantiated in the veridical case but not in the non-veridical. (shrink)
Immanent universals, being wholly present wherever they are instantiated, are capable of both multi-location and co-location. As a result, they can become involved in some bizarre situations, situations whose contradictory appearance cannot be dispelled by any of the relativizing maneuvers familiar to metaphysicials as solutions to the problem of change. Douglas Ehring takes this to be a fatal problem for immanent universals, but I do not. Although the old relativizing maneuvers don't solve the problem, I propose a new (...) one that does. I spend half the paper defending the proposed solution against objections, and in the course of this task I touch upon such topics as backward time travel and the distinction between universals and particulars. I close by putting forward -- merely as an option -- a new way to draw the distinction in question. (shrink)
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.
“The problem of universals” in general is a historically variable bundle of several closely related, yet in different conceptual frameworks rather differently articulated metaphysical, logical, and epistemological questions, ultimately all connected to the issue of how universal cognition of singular things is possible. How do we know, for example, that the Pythagorean theorem holds universally, for all possible right triangles? Indeed, how can we have any awareness of a potential infinity of all possible right triangles, given that we could (...) only see a finite number of actual ones? How can we universally indicate all possible right triangles with the phrase ‘right triangle’? Is there something common to them all signified by this phrase? If so, what is it, and how is it related to the particular right triangles? The medieval problem of universals is a logical, and historical, continuation of the ancient problem generated by Plato's (428-348 B.C.) theory answering such a bundle of questions, namely, his theory of Ideas or Forms. (shrink)
According Leibniz's thesis of universal expression, each substance expresses the whole world, i.e. all other substances, or, as Leibniz frequently states, from any given complete individual notion (which includes, in internal terms, everything truly attributable to a substance) one can "deduce" or "infer" all truths about the whole world. On the other hand, in Leibniz's view each (created) substance is internally individuated, self-sufficient and independent of other (created) substances. What may be called Leibniz's expression problem is, how to reconcile these (...) views with each other, that is, how a substance that expresses the whole world, even in the sense that the whole world can be "inferred" from its complete individual notion, can be self-sufficient and internally individuated. The purpose of this paper is to give an exact account of this tricky problem of universal expression, an account that retains substances' self-sufficiency under the constraint that all truths about the whole world are to be obtained from complete individual notions. It will also be shown how the explication of universal expression to be given accounts for Leibniz's thesis of universal change, i.e. the view that any change in any substance is reflected as a real, internal change in each and every other substance. (shrink)
I reassess the famous arguments of Frank Plumpton Ramsey (1925) against the tenability of the distinction between particulars and universals and discuss their recent elaboration by Fraser MacBride. I argue that Ramsey’s argument is ambiguous between kinds and properties and that his sceptical worries can be resolved once this distinction is taken into account. A crucial role in this dissolution is a notion of what is essential to a property. I close by some epistemological considerations.
In his 1911 paper, “On the Relations of Universals and Particulars,” Bertrand Russell supposes the question whether universals are spatial or non spatial turns on the question of the existence of particulars. If particulars could be shown to exist, then since, according to Russell, they obviously are spatial, the non-spatiality of universals would be established. On the other hand, the denial of the existence of particulars would entail the spatiality of universals.In this paper, I argue that (...) Russell’s claim is plausible only if particulars are construed either as quality instances or as ordinary objects. If, however, particulars are either substrata or collections of qualities, nothing follows in regard to the spatiality or the non-spatiality of universals. Since the alternative interpretations of particularity are, I contend, at least as attractive as Russell’s, his failure to consider them makes his position less interesting than it might otherwise have been. (shrink)
The philosophical problem of universals is traditionally framed as the problem about the ontological status of universals. It is often said that the ontological status of universals is a post-Aristotelian problem that was bequeathed to the Middle Ages by a famous sentence in Porphyry's Isagoge. 1 Porphyry raises but then refuses to answer three questions about the ontological status of genera and species, saying that they are too "deep" for the present investigation. 2 Although Porphyry is the (...) first to announce the problem, it was Boethius's commentary on Porphyry, rather than the Isagoge itself, that made this sentence famous and that is therefore responsible for the problem of universals in .. (shrink)
Universals are a class of mind independent entities, usually contrasted with individuals (or so-called “particulars”), postulated to ground and explain relations of qualitative identity and resemblance among individuals. Individuals are said to be similar in virtue of sharing universals. An apple and a ruby are both red, for example, and their common redness results from sharing a universal. If they are both red at the same time, the universal, red, must be in two places at once. This (...) makes universals quite different from individuals, and controversial. (shrink)
Provocatively, David Armstrong's properties are supposed to be both universals and spatio-temporal. What does this amount to? I consider four of Armstrong's views, in order of ascending plausibility: (1) the exemplification account, on which universals are exemplified by space-times; (2) the location account, on which universals are located at space-times; (3) the first constituent account, on which spatio-temporal relations are elements of what I call the form of time; and, the true view, (4) the second constituent account, (...) on which universals are spatio-temporal only 'derivatively' by being constituents of states of affairs which are so 'primarily'. The first two accounts are rejected because they entail that space-times must be substantival. In making plausible the second constituent account, I distinguish primitive and derivative spatio-temporality. Something is primitively spatio-temporal when it is at a space-time, or stands in spatio-temporal relations. Something is derivatively spatio-temporal when it is a constituent of something primitively spatio-temporal. (shrink)
The mnemonic arts and the idea of a universal language that would capture the essence of all things were originally associated with cryptology, mysticism, and other occult practices. And it is commonly held that these enigmatic efforts were abandoned with the development of formal logic in the seventeenth century and the beginning of the modern era. In his distinguished book, Logic and the Art of Memory Italian philosopher and historian Paolo Rossi argues that this view is belied by an examination (...) of the history of the idea of a universal language. Based on comprehensive analyses of original texts, Rossi traces the development of this idea from late medieval thinkers such as Ramon Lull through Bruno, Bacon, Descartes, and finally Leibniz in the seventeenth century. The search for a symbolic mode of communication that would be intelligible to everyone was not a mere vestige of magical thinking and occult sciences, but a fundamental component of Renaissance and Enlightenment thought. Seen from this perspective, modern science and combinatorial logic represent not a break from the past but rather its full maturity. Available for the first time in English, this book (originally titled Clavis Universalis ) remains one of the most important contributions to the history of ideas ever written. In addition to his eagerly anticipated translation, Steven Clucas offers a substantial introduction that places this book in the context of other recent works on this fascinating subject. A rich history and valuable sourcebook, Logic and the Art of Memory documents an essential chapter in the development of human reason. (shrink)
John Wyclif has been described as "ultrarealist" in his theory of universals. This paper attempts a preliminary assessment of that judgment and argues that, pending further study, we have no reason to accept it. It is certainly true that Wyclif is extremely vocal and insistent about his realism, but it is not obvious that the actual content of his view is especially extreme. The paper distinguishes two common medieval notions of a universal, the Aristotelian/Porphyrian one in terms of predication (...) and the Boethian one in terms of being metaphysically common to many. On neither approach does Wyclif 's theory of universals postulate new and non-standard entities besides those recognized by more usual versions of realism. Again pending further study, neither do Wyclif 's views appear to assign philosophically extreme or novel roles to the entities he does recognize as universal. On the contrary, by at least one measure, his theory of universals is less extreme than Walter Burley's, as Wyclif himself observes. For Wyclif, the universal is numerically identical with its singulars, but numerical identity is governed by something weaker than the Indiscernibility of identicals. (shrink)
This article surveys the state of the art in the ﬁeld of semantic universals. We examine potential semantic universals in three areas: (i) the lexicon, (ii) semantic “glue” (functional morphemes and composition principles), and (iii) pragmatics. At the level of the lexicon, we ﬁnd remarkably few convincing semantic universals. At the level of functional morphemes and composition principles, we discuss a number of promising constraints, most of which require further empirical testing and/or reﬁnement. In the realm of (...) pragmatics, we predict that Gricean mechanisms are universal, but suggest that the precise nature of presuppositions may be subject to cross-linguistic variation. Finally, we follow E.L. Keenan in concluding that the overarching universal of effability or translatability between languages cannot be upheld in its strongest form. A recurring theme throughout this survey is how much work still remains to be done in the relatively young ﬁeld of cross-linguistic formal semantics. (shrink)
Russell’s late ontology sought to avoid “wholly colourless particulars” (substrata, points of space, bare instants of time) by appealing to complexes of compresent qualities in place of particulars that exemplify qualitieso Yet he insisted on (i) calling qualities like redness “discontinuous,” “repeatable” particulars, and (ii) claiming that such qualities were not universals, since they were not exemplified but were ultimate subjects that exemplified universal relations and universal qualities. It is argued that his choice of terminology is not only misleading, (...) but is ironically not consistent with the concept of universality implicit in his well known “proof” of the existence of universals, a proof he retained in his later (1940-48) ontology. It is also argued that there are substantive grounds for rejecting his classification that clarify the concept of a universal. (shrink)
The main object of this paper is to clarify and evaluate Avicenna’s view of universals, in light of some modern and contemporarydiscussions. According to Avicenna, universality is a contingent attribute of entities that are in themselves neither universal norparticular. An account of universality as a contingent attribute is offered which clarifies and gives additional support to Avicenna’sview. Nevertheless, it will be argued that Avicenna, through his use of such terms as “nature” and “quiddity,” faces the same problemswhich he attributes (...) to his predecessors. (shrink)
Two texts that raise problems for Alexander of Aphrodisias' theory of universals are examined. "De anima" 90.2-8 appears to suggest that universals are dependent on thought for their existence; this raises questions about the status both of universals and of forms. It is suggested that the passage is best interpreted as indicating that universals are dependent on thought only for their being recognised as universals. The last sentence of "Quaestio" 1.11 seems to assert that if (...) the universal did not exist no individual would exist, thereby contradicting Alexander's position elsewhere. This seems to be a slip resulting from the fact that species with only one member are the exception rather than the rule. (shrink)
A theory purporting to solve the problem of universals must be able to explain predication, recurrence, and classification. How Platonism does this is well known. Here I take a hard look at an attempt by M.J. Cresswell to give an Aristotelian answer and show it to be a complete and utter failure. The answer does not eliminate commitment to universals and it is only half an answer anyway because it does not cover relational predicates, an omission that Russell (...) noted dooms answers by other philosophers as well. (shrink)
Kant's formula of universal law appears to fail in some cases, producing false negatives and false positives. Adding further qualifications to one's maxims can fix the first problem, but not all of the latter. In particular, there are maxims which generate no contradiction in will when practiced universally, but which are irrational to will that some agent follow in contexts where it is known that other agents are not following it. This reveals that Kant's conception of "universalization" is too narrow: (...) we need to ask, not if we can will the universalization of a maxim's practice, but whether we can universally will, of each agent in every possible circumstance, that this agent follow the maxim. (shrink)
The discussion of universals in Peter Abelard’s Logica ‘Ingredientibus’ has been interpreted in many ways. Of particular controversy has been the proper way to interpret his use of the term status. In this paper I offer an interpretation of status by comparing Abelard’s account of knowledge of universals to Edmund Husserl’s presentations of categorial and eidetic intuition. I argue that status is meant to be understood as something like an ideal object, in Husserl’s sense of the term. First, (...) I present Abelard’s discussion of status and distinguish this term from universals, things, acts of understanding, and forms. Next, I consider Husserl’s account of categorial and eidetic intuition. Finally, I draw parallels between the two while showing how an interpretation of status as ideal object overcomesthe interpretive problems encountered by other commentators on Abelard. (shrink)
In his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant’s desiderata for a supreme principle of practical reasoning and morality require that the subjective conditions under which some action is thought of as justified via some maxim be sufficient for judging the same action as justified by any agent in those conditions. This describes the kind of universalization conditions now known as moral supervenience. But when he specifies his “formula of universal law” (FUL) Kant replaces this condition with a quite different (...) kind of universality: the judgment that some agent could rationally (i.e., without willing the frustration of his own valued ends) will his adoption of some maxim under the condition that this would cause all agents in his world to adopt it as well. Our wills typically lack this efficacy, so requiring that our wills conform to what would be rational for a hypothetical agent in this situation to will is a heteronomous requirement. Several intuitively wrong maxims pass Kant’s test but fail the test of supervenience, because they generate no contradiction in a world of universal compliance but do so in non-ideal worlds, demonstrating the inadequacy of the FUL and the logical superiority of moral supervenience. (shrink)