Abstraction and the 'Esse' is 'Percipi' Thesis

Dissertation, The Ohio State University (1987)

The dissertation is divided into two parts. In Part One, Locke's theory of abstract general ideas is introduced and it is explained how it is to be used in giving an account of how certain common nouns refer. In the second chapter, Berkeley's attack on the theory of abstract ideas is described. In the third chapter, a defense of the doctrine proposed by J. L. Mackie is considered. It is argued that this fails as it stands, but the chapter goes on to suggest how Mackie's account can be revised so as to overcome these shortcomings. In Part Two, some aspects of current thinking concerning one of Berkeley's central arguments for Esse is Percipi is discussed. In the chapter following this discussion, another interpretation of the argument for Esse is Percipi is proposed and an attempt is made to explain how this interpretation overcomes some of the problems connected with other interpretations. In the last chapter, an attempt is made to show that there is a direct connection between the doctrine of abstract ideas and the Esse is Percipi thesis. More exactly, it is argued that if there are abstract ideas, then the Esse is Percipi thesis is false.
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