Vivarium 54 (2-3):146-165 (2016)

Ockham’s ontology of arithmetic, specifically his position on the ontological status of natural numbers, has not yet attracted the attention of scholars. Yet it occupies a central role in his nominalism; specifically, Ockham’s position on numbers constitutes a third part of his ontological reductionism, alongside his doctrines of universals and the categories, which have long been recognized to constitute the first two parts. That is, the first part of this program claims that the very idea of a universal thing is self-contradictory, while the second part asserts that it is more rational to accept only two distinct types of singular things, namely substance and quality. These two elements are incomplete, however, for they do not fully encompass Ockham’s position on what realists take to be abstract objects. For this, one needs the third part of Ockham’s program of ontological reductionism, dealing with numbers, among the most paradigmatic abstract objects for realists.
Keywords William of Ockham   plural reference   nominalism   philosophy of arithmetic
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DOI 10.1163/15685349-12341317
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