Carnap’s and Sellars’ Theories on Universals

Journal of Philosophical Theological Research 9 (35):89-105 (2008)
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One of the arguments of the realists to prove the existence of universals in the external world is “abstract reference”. According to this argument, there are many true sentences in a language which apparently relates to universals. In the realists’ view, truth of these sentences can be explicated only when universals exist in the external world. On the basis of his “degree of language” theory, Carnap has criticized the above-mentioned argument and demonstrated that delusion of the existence of universals has resulted from the confusion in regard to different degrees of language. In his view, those sentences concerning to universals are in fact second-order sentences which assert properties with regard to some first-order sentences. But Carnap’s theory suffers from two main objections: firstly, his theory is not successful in the elimination of reference to universals, because on the basis of his theory, only reference to non-linguistic universals would be eliminated but reference to linguistic universals continue to survive. Secondly, supposing that Carnap’s theory is true, translation of the sentences in question would be extremely difficult and complicate. So Wilfred Sellars attempts to response the two objections, and thus, to present a reformed version of Carnap’s theory. In the present article, the author first explains Carnap’s theory; then, it presents the relevant objections; and finally, it offers Sellars’ reformed version of Carnap’s theory.



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Hashem Morvarid
Johns Hopkins University

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References found in this work

Abstract Entities.Wilfrid Sellars - 1963 - Review of Metaphysics 16 (4):627 - 671.
Vienna circle.Thomas Uebel - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Statements about universals.Frank Jackson - 1977 - Mind 86 (343):427-429.
Statements About Universals.Frank Jackson - 1977 - In D. H. Mellor & Alex Oliver (eds.), Properties. Oxford University Press.
Nominalism and Abstract Reference.J. P. Moreland - 1990 - American Philosophical Quarterly 27 (4):325 - 334.

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