Dialectica 52 (3):203–227 (1998)

Fraser MacBride
University of Manchester
Is there a particular-universal distinction? Is there a difference of kind between all the particulars on the one hand and all the universals on the other? Can we demonstrate that there is such a difference without assuming what we set out to show? In 1925 Frank Ramsey made a famous attempt to answers these questions. He came to the sceptical conclusion that there was no particularuniversal distinction, the theory of universals being merely “a great muddle”. Following Russell, Ramsey identified three kinds of distinction, psychological, physical and logical, in terms of which the particular-universal distinction might be understood. Ramsey argued that the particular-universal distinction could not be understood in terms of any of these kinds of distinction. Ramsey concluded that the particular-universal distinction, being neither psychological, physical or logical, was no distinction at all. The conclusion that there is no particular-universal distinction cannot be substantiated on the basis of the arguments that Ramsey provides. At least one of these arguments, the argument that the particular-universal distinction cannot be a ‘physical’ distinction, is flawed.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1746-8361.1998.tb00050.x
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Mereology.Achille C. Varzi - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Universals.Chad Carmichael - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (3):373-389.

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