The book contains the first systematic study of the ontology and metaphysics of Gustav Bergmann, tracing their development from early criticisms of Carnap’s semantical theories in Introduction to Semantics, to their culmination in his 1992 New Foundations of Ontology. This involves a detailed study of the implicit metaphysical doctrines in Carnap’s important, but long neglected, 1942 book and their connection to his influential views on reference, truth and modality, that culminated in Meaning and Necessity. In dealing with various fundamental issues (...) in ontology and metaphysics, the book discusses relevant views of major philosophers, such as Russell, Moore, Bradley, Wittgenstein, Meinong, Brentano, Husserl, Broad, McTaggart, and Quine, and of contemporary and recent figures, including D. M. Armstrong, D. Lewis, S. Kripke, J. Searle, W. Sellars, D. Davidson, J. J. C. Smart, and H. Feigl. Building on the critical studies of Bergmann, Carnap and such other philosophers, the author argues for a form of Logical Realism derived from important, but long misunderstood and ignored, aspects of Russell’s theories of descriptions, reference and truth. (shrink)
The article considers, in a historical setting, the links between varieties of nominalism—the extreme nominalism of the Quine-Goodman variety and the trope nominalism current today—and types of idealism. In so doing arguments of various twentieth century figures, including Husserl, Bradley, Russell, and Sartre, as well as a contemporary attack on relations by Peter Simons are critically examined. The paper seeks to link the rejection of realism about universals with the rejection of a mind-independent “world”—in short, linking nominalism with idealism.
Gustav Bergmann was one of the youngest members of the Vienna Circle when he fled Austria in 1938 to seek asylum in the United States. Prior to 1938 he had published eight papers in German, seven in mathematics and one on psychoanalysis published in Imago. In 1940–43 his published papers were mainly on topics in the philosophy of physics and psychology. In 1944–45 his published work reflected the beginning of an intellectual journey which, to borrow from Coffa’s striking title, would (...) take him from the positivism of the Vienna Station to Meinong’s Graz. The journey began in 1942 when he wrote a paper, published in 1944 in Mind, “Pure Semantics, Sentences and Propositions.” An earlier version had been sent to Church, as editor of the Journal of Symbolic Logic, and to Carnap for his reactions to Bergmann’s criticisms of Carnap’s recent Introduction to Semantics. (shrink)
The paper considers recent proposals by Armstrong, Dretske, and Tooley that revive the view that statements of laws of nature are grounded by the existence of higher order facts relating universals. Several objections to such a view are raised and an alternative analysis, recognizing general facts, is considered. Such an alternative is shown to meet a number of the objections raised against the appeal to higher order facts and it is also related to views of Hume and Wittgenstein. Further objections (...) are then raised to all the non-Humean "realist" attempts to provide special facts to ground the laws of nature. (shrink)
The paper sets out a version of a correspondence theory of truth that deals with a number of problems such theories traditionally face, problems associated with the names of Bradley, Meinong, Camap, Russell, Wittgenstein and Moore and that arise in connection with attempts to analyze facts of various logical forms. The line of argument employs a somewhat novel application of Russell's theory of definite descriptions. In developing a form of "logical realism" the paper takes up various ontological issues regarding classes, (...) causal laws, modality, predication, negation and relations. It does so in connection with critical discussions of alternative views recently proposed by Armstrong, Bergmann, Lewis and Putnam. (shrink)
Some philosophers have claimed that one must be acquainted with the elements of one's ontology. Also, believing that substrata and universals are required in an adequate ontology, these philosophers have claimed acquaintance with such objects. This paper attempts to analyze what is involved in such claims and to argue that they result from a number of confusions. The paper deals largely with the claim that substrata, or bare particulars, are presented since numerical difference is a simple fact that is presented. (...) It further attempts to argue that while neither substrata nor universals, as such, are objects of acquaintance, there are some distinctions to be drawn between talk of universals as presented objects and talk of substrata being presented. (shrink)
The author addresses the question as to whether russell and whitehead "provide an explication of the idea that arithmetical truths are tautologies." he thinks their achievement was in developing an axiomatic system in which the "interpreted propositions are tautologies," but not in proving this of mathematics. He thinks the real problem here is the attempt to explicate ordinary language via formally constructed languages. (staff).
In an often cited paper, “Universals,” Ramsey attacked the classical distinction between universals and particulars and a 20th century version of it that Russell had set forth. Russell, early in that century, had depended on a questionable distinction taken from Frege—between universals being “incomplete” and particulars being “complete.” This was in part due, as it was for Frege, to an attempt to avoid Bradley-type regresses and account for the “unity” of propositions . But Ramsey’s forceful line of argument, taking Russell’s (...) distinction to depend on projecting linguistic or “logical” distinctions onto “the world,” makes clear use of the predicable-subject distinction that is more basic and which he is also challenging. The discussion of Ramsey’s attack on Russell’s distinctions and of Russell’s reply in a later review, as well as of the ontological import of their controversy and its contemporary revival, leads to consideration of ontological problems in connection with atomic facts and classes and the distinction between simple and complex entities. (shrink)
Both and agree that there are universals—that qualities are universals. To say that the quality white is a universal is to say, in part, that one and the same thing is connected in some way to both Plato and Socrates and accounts for the truth of the sentences "Plato is white" and "Socrates is white." To put it another way, the term "white" in both sentences refers to the same entity. What arguments are there for such a view? Russell elegantly (...) put forth the classic argument in "On the Relations of Universals to Particulars." To deny universals is to assert that the quality attributed to Socrates is not one and the same with the quality attributed to Plato. The quality "in" each is numerically distinct and, furthermore, no one thing accounts for these distinct qualities being of the same kind. [I mention this latter point since one might, on a version of, hold that there are particular qualities as well as universal qualities. The former account for the whiteness of particular patches; the latter for such particular whitenesses being just that.] One must then hold that such particular qualities are related in some way, since they are the entities in virtue of which we truly assert that both things are white. One must then specify such a relation. The obvious point is that such a relation will either be taken as a universal or a particular instance. If a particular then the original problem recurs when we introduce a third white patch or a pair of black patches. If admitted as a universal then the view finally accepts universals, albeit relational ones. No other alternative can answer the original question—to account for Socrates and Plato having the same color. That is, no alternative acknowledging only individuals—that denies the two patches are connected, in some way, to one and the same entity—can prevent the recurrence of exactly the same kind of question we started out with. Let us consider the case of particulars. One may argue that just as universals account for the sameness of quality, something must account for the difference of two patches which, conceivably, have all their nonrelational qualities in common. This something, the ground of numerical difference, is considered to be a substratum which stands in a unique relation or connection with universals to form or constitute facts and the things we started out with, Plato and Socrates. These ordinary things are thought of as composed of a substratum and universals connected together. Facts about such things may be composed of the substratum and one universal. The facts are about the things since the same substratum is a constituent of both sorts of entities. Such substrata account for the difference of the two patches; for there being two and not one thing. These substrata, in turn, are held to be simply different. At this point one may balk. If substrata are held to be simply different, why bother with them at all? Why not hold that Socrates and Plato are composites, not classes, of universals, and that they are different composites of the same universals? They just simply differ. If substrata can simply differ, why may not composites of universals simply differ? The proponent of substrata must retort that since Plato and Socrates are composite entities they cannot simply differ but must be held to differ in a constituent. Only simple entities can simply differ. Let me call this assertion the axiom of difference. The first point to note is that it is a necessary assumption in the argument to establish the need for substrata in an adequate ontology. We must then inquire why some accept, implicitly or explicitly, such an axiom. (shrink)
Russell’s elimination of basic particulars, in An lnquiry into Meaning and Truth and Human Knowledge: lts Scope and Limits, by purportedly construing them as “bundles” or “complexes” of universal qualities has been attacked over the years by A. J. Ayer, M. Black, D. M. Armstrong, M. Loux, and others. These criticisms of Russell’s ontological assay of “particularity” have been based on misconstruals of his analysis. The present paper interprets Russell’s analysis, rebuts arguments of his critics, and sets out a different (...) criticism of “bundle” analyses of particulars of the Russellian kind. (shrink)
First, we shall consider the distinction as set forth in Principia. Next, on the basis of what Moore says there, a view as to the nature of universals will be attributed to him. This view will provide the ground for a radical distinction between natural and non-natural properties. But it will not quite jibe with other things he says at a slightly later period. Nor will it be clear why he holds to such a view of universals. Finally we shall (...) consider a very early paper of Moore's, written just prior to Principia. An analysis of this paper will reveal a rather strange and complex ontology implicit in it. This, in turn, will show the source of the ontology of Principia; why the ontology attributed to him in Principia does not jibe with other things he says; and the origin of the notion of non-natural properties. (shrink)
An analysis of problematic dispositional predicates like 'soluble' is presented. The analysis attempts to combine cogent features of opposed previous analyses of Carnap and Bergmann, while avoiding problematic features of both. The suggestion that there is an ambiguity in negations of assertions of dispositional properties, and a consequent distinction between "not soluble" and "insoluble," lies at the core of the solution.
In the years spanning the first half of the 20th century Bertrand Russell wavered between two incompatible accounts of physical reality. On one account, physical objects were taken to be logical constructs of phenomenal entities, the immediate data of sense experience. Such a view roughly fits the familiar characterization of being a combination of “Hume plus mathematical logic.” This type of phenomenalism, in the empiricist tradition, contrasted starkly with a variant of scientific realism, including a realistic account of causal connections (...) as relations between universals, that Russell developed between 1912 and 1927, and which was derived from Kant’s distinction between a noumenal and a phenomenal world. My concern in this paper is with the viability of the unique form of scientific realism Russell developed, the role of universals and causal explanation in it, and criticisms that have been directed at it. I will argue that an early refutation of Russell’s realism by the mathematician M. Newman and a recent revival of that refutation by W. Demopoulos and M. Friedman ignore the critical role universals play in Russell’s scientific realism and hence fail to refute his view. I will also briefly consider a recent “anti-realist” argument that repeats Newman’s mistake: interpreting predicates in terms of extensions and not as referring to universal properties and relations. (shrink)
Platonism, in its most recent and seemingly most cogent form, has rested on (a) the supposed indispensability of descriptive predicate terms in so-called "improved," or "clarified," or "perspicuous" languages; (b) the distinction between subject and predicate terms based on the asymmetry of the predication relation; and (c) the claimed ontological significance of the different categories of terms implied by (a) and (b). Nominalism, in one of its most pervasive recent forms, has involved the denial of the criterion of ontological commitment (...) embedded in (c) by explicitly or implicitly adopting the criterion expressed in Quine's formula "to be is to be the value of a variable." To avoid the obvious charge that nominalists merely ignore abstract entities by the arbitrary ploy of changing the rules, i.e. denying that ontological commitments are made by the inclusion of primitive predicates in schemata of certain kinds by simply employing a different criterion of commitment, some nominalists have sought to argue for their criterion by pointing to the distinction between singular and general terms and the radically different roles such terms play. The distinction between singular and general terms becomes the premise for an argument that purportedly supports Quine's criterion of ontological commitment. This criterion, in turn, provides the basis for the nomin'alist's use of primitive predicates, as general terms, without ontological commitment to abstract entities. In this paper I shall argue that the nominalist's gambit is inadequate in that the distinction between singular and general terms, as employed by a philosopher like Quine, merely provides a way of stating the nominalist's position and does not provide a reason for holding such a position. To put it another way, if we consider the contemporary nominalist to argue from the distinction between singular and general terms to the cogency of nominalism, since the former provides a ground for Quine's criterion of ontological commitment which, in turn, provides the basis for the latter, then the line of thought is question begging. It is so in that the very way the nominalist draws the distinction presupposes a nominalistic view, since a careful statement of that distinction amounts to a restatement of the nominalistic position. (shrink)
Zermelo, Frege and Russell accepted a common theme regarding classes. Classes were determined by other entities—functions, concepts, properties or conditions—and a class was only acceptable in the theory if there was such a determining entity. Thus, the existence of a class was taken to be dependent on a concept, function, condition, etc. whose satisfaction or fulfillment by an element determined the element to be a member of the class. This feature was behind Russell’s “no class theory,” where a class was (...) not only taken to be “determined by” a function but was considered to be “replaceable” by its determining function, as well as Frege’s problematic claim that every concept determined a class. Thus, Russell could identify the class of φs with, and Frege could take there to be a class of φs whose elements were all things falling under φ. Treating classes in such a manner does not provide for an adequate ontological assay of classes. If classes are entities, then whether or not there exists a class cannot depend on there being a property or function or concept or condition specifying membership in the class. Such a concept or property merely allows us to provide a definite description of the class. It is not the basis for the existence of the class. Russell’s “no class” theory of the first edition of Principia takes class abstracts and the classes they purportedly denote as “incomplete symbols.” As applied to the class abstract signs, the notion of an “incomplete symbol” means that such signs are only meaningful in contexts, in fact, are contextually defined. Thus, their meaning is not supplied by an entity such a sign purportedly denotes. As applied to a purported entity, to say of such a “thing” that it is an incomplete symbol is to say that it doesn’t exist. Thus, Russell classified the King of France in 1905, the king, as well as the definite description, as an incomplete symbol and called propositions “incomplete symbols” when he denied that there were such entities. (shrink)
Two connected themes have been at the core of the old perplexity regarding thinking and speaking about non-existent objects. One involves a question of reference. Can we refer to non-existent objects without, thereby, recognizing, in some sense, non-existent entities as objects of reference? The other involves a question about existence. Is existence a property representable by a predicate in a logically adequate symbohsm? It is argued (1) that existence is not to be construed as an attribute represented by a predicate, (...) (2) that nonnaming names introduce problems, not solutions to problems, (3) that purported properties such as self-identical are specious, and (4) that the Russell property is also seen to be specious by our consideration of predication. (shrink)
Russell’s late ontology sought to avoid “wholly colourless particulars” (substrata, points of space, bare instants of time) by appealing to complexes of compresent qualities in place of particulars that exemplify qualitieso Yet he insisted on (i) calling qualities like redness “discontinuous,” “repeatable” particulars, and (ii) claiming that such qualities were not universals, since they were not exemplified but were ultimate subjects that exemplified universal relations and universal qualities. It is argued that his choice of terminology is not only misleading, but (...) is ironically not consistent with the concept of universality implicit in his well known “proof” of the existence of universals, a proof he retained in his later (1940-48) ontology. It is also argued that there are substantive grounds for rejecting his classification that clarify the concept of a universal. (shrink)