Nominalist Constituent Ontologies: A Development and Critique

Dissertation, University of Notre Dame (2009)

Authors
Robert K. Garcia
Texas A&M University
Abstract
In this dissertation I consider the merits of certain nominalist accounts of phenomena related to the character of ordinary objects. What these accounts have in common is the fact that none of them is an error theory about standard cases of predication and none of them deploys God or uniquely theistic resources in its explanatory framework. The aim of the dissertation is to answer the following questions: • What is the best nominalist account on offer? • How might it be improved? • Does it ultimately succeed? I will argue that while so-called trope theory is the best account on offer, it can be significantly improved—or replaced—by a novel version of nominalism that is modeled after trope theory. Ultimately, however, I will argue that even the novel version fails. The dissertation unfolds as follows. In Chapter 1, I introduce Austere Nominalism (AN), which is perhaps the most extreme version of nominalism that falls within the scope of the dissertation. AN is often described as the view that there exist only concrete particulars. According to AN, it is unnecessary to posit any entities other than ordinary objects—turkeys, tables, and the like—in order to account for explananda related to the character of those objects. (Such explananda include the phenomenon of attribute agreement, of attribute possession, of true subject-predicate sentences, etc.) In this chapter I argue that AN fails to provide an adequate account of these explananda. In addition, introducing and criticizing AN serves an important heuristic role for the rest of the dissertation. To understand this role, we must distinguish between the basic explanatory strategy deployed by the austere nominalist and the type of explananda for which she deploys that strategy. The austere nominalist deploys the strategy to account for the character of ordinary objects. As I argue in Chapter 1, this deployment is a failure. As I go on to show in Chapter 2, the widespread rejection AN has led to a variety of rival accounts of the character of ordinary objects. In rejecting AN, however, these accounts also tacitly reject its basic explanatory strategy. Thus goes the baby with the bathwater, since, arguably, there are some attractive features of AN’s basic explanatory strategy. Indeed, those who defend the most prominent version of nominalism—trope theory—seem to overlook the advantages of AN’s basic strategy, and by so doing, make an unnecessary concession to the realist. Or so I argue in Chapter 3. And, as I will argue in Chapter 4, the strongest version of nominalism is a novel account, modeled after trope theory, that deploys AN’s basic strategy at a more fundamental level than that of ordinary objects. This novel account—troper theory—is closer in spirit to AN than is traditional trope theory. (Thus, AN serves as a foil for the discussion of other nominalist views.) Finally, in the Afterword I indicate how troper theory is equally vulnerable to some of the traditional objections that plague trope theory. Thus, if you are not convinced that traditional objections to trope theory are conclusive and you want to be a nominalist, then you should abandon trope theory and adopt troper theory. If you take traditional objections against trope theory to have significant force, then you should reject both theories.
Keywords tropes  nominalism  substance  constituent ontology  bundle theory  universals  properties  abstract particulars  moderate nominalism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

New Work for a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Nominalism.Zoltan Gendler Szabo - 2003 - In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.
New Work For a Theory of Universals.David K. Lewis - 1997 - In D. H. Mellor & Alex Oliver (eds.), Properties. Oxford University Press.
Particulars in Particular Clothing: Three Trope Theories of Substance.Peter Simons - 1994 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (3):553-575.
Logical Parts.Laurie A. Paul - 2002 - Noûs 36 (4):578–596.

View all 36 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Bare Particulars and Constituent Ontology.Robert K. Garcia - 2014 - Acta Analytica 29 (2):149-159.
Tropes as Divine Acts: The Nature of Creaturely Properties in a World Sustained by God.Robert K. Garcia - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (3):105--130.
Are Bare Particulars Constituents?Richard Brian Davis - 2013 - Acta Analytica 28 (4):395-410.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Moderate Nominalism and Moderate Realism.Christer Svennerlind - 2008 - Dissertation, Gothenburg University
Property Counterparts and Natural Class Trope Nominalism.Douglas Ehring - 2004 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (3):443 – 463.
The Causal Argument Against Natural Class Trope Nominalism.Douglas Ehring - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 107 (2):179 - 190.
Population Thinking as Trope Nominalism.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Synthese 177 (1):91 - 109.
Logicism Revisited.Otávio Bueno - 2001 - Principia 5 (1-2):99-124.
Tropes and Relations.Käthe Trettin - 2007 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 12:155-159.
If Tropes.Anna-Sofia Maurin - 2002 - Kluwer Academic Publishers.
What's Wrong with Ostrich Nominalism?Howard Peacock - 2009 - Philosophical Papers 38 (2):183-217.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2013-09-24

Total views
968 ( #2,973 of 2,280,287 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
73 ( #9,735 of 2,280,287 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature