Anda di halaman 1dari 196

SUBSTANCE AND ATTRIBUTE

PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES SERIES


IN PHILOSOPHY

Editors:

WILFRID SELLARS, University of Pittsburgh


KEITH LEHRER, University of Arizona

Board ofCon~ulting Editors:

JONATHAN BENNETT, University of British Columbia


ALAN GIBBARD, University of Pittsburgh
ROBERT STALNAKER, Cornell University
ROBERT G. TURNBULL, Ohio State University

VOLUME 14
MICHAEL J. LOUX
The University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana

SUBSTANCE AND
ATTRIBUTE
A Study in Ontology

D. REIDEL PUBLISHING COMPANY

DORDRECHT : HOLLAND / BOSTON: U.S.A.


LONDON: ENGLAND
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Loux, Michael J.
Substance and attribute

(Philosophical studies series in philosophy: v. 14)


Includes bibliographical references and index.
I. Attribute (Philosophy) 2. Universals (Philosophy) 3. Substance
(Philosophy) 4. Ontology. I. Title.
BD352.L68 III 78-12989
ISBN-13: 97X-90-277-0955-4 e-ISBN-13: 97X-94-009-9874-2
DOl: 10.10007/978-94-009-9874-2

Published by D. Reidel Publishing Company,


P.O. Box 17, Dordrecht, Holland

Sold and distribu ted in the U.S.A., Canada, and Mexico


by D. Reidel Publishing Company, Inc.
Lincoln Building, 160 Old Derby Street, Hingham,
Mass. 02043, U.S.A.

All Rights Reserved


Copyright 1978 by D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland
Softcover reprint of the hardcover I st edition 1978
No part of the material protected by this copyright notice may be reproduced or
utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording or by any informational storage and
retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner
TO MY MOTHER AND FATHER
TABLE OF CONTENTS

FOREWORD ix

PART ONE: ATTRIBUTES

CHAPTER ONE / ATTRIBUTE-AGREEMENT AND THE PROBLEM


OF UNIVERSALS 3
I. Attribute-Agreement: Three Interpretations 3
II. Attribute-Agreement: The Nature of the Debate 8

CHAPTER TWO / PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 13


I. Realism and Predication 13
II. Alleged Counter-Examples to (I) 15
III. The Alleged Circularity of (I) 21
IV. (I) and Infinite Regresses 22
V. The Reference of Predicate-Terms 27
VI. The Truth of Subject-Predicate Discourse 33

CHAPTER THREE / RESEMBLANCE AND UNIVERSALS 44


I. The Alleged Non-Eliminability of Resemblance 44
II. The Alleged Incompleteness of Resemblance-Claims 47
III. The Ground of Resemblance 49

CHAPTER FOUR / ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS S4


I. Higher Level Quantification S4
II. Abstract Singular Terms 61
III. Extreme Nominalism and Abstract Singular Terms 6S
IV. Nominalism and Abstract Singular Terms 73
V. The Metalinguistic Interpretation of Abstract Singular Terms 77
VI. Conclusion 86

CHAPTER FIVE / TOWARDS A REALISTIC ONTOLOGY 89


I. The Existence of Universals 89
II. Universals as Necessary Beings 92
III. More Platonism 96
viii T ABLE OF CONTENTS

IV. The Identity-Conditions for Universals 99


V. How Many Universals Are There? 101
VI. Conclusion 102

pART TWO: SUBSTANCES

CHAPTER SIX / TWO THEORIES OF SUBSTANCE 107


I. Bare Substrata 107
II. Bundles, Clusters, and Collections 112
III. Problems in the Bundle Theory: Bare Substrata Revisited 115

CHAPTER SEVEN / THE BUNDLE THEORY 121


I. The Contingency of Substance 121
II. Identity and Change 124
III. Subject-Predicate Discourse 126
IV. The Identity ofIndiscernibles 131
V. Russell's Way Out 134

CHAPTER EIGHT / BARE SUBSTRATA 140


I. The Introduction of Bare Substrata 140
II. Empiricism and Bare Substrata 143
III. The Inconsistency of Substratum Ontologies 146
IV. Bare Substrata and Essential Properties 147
V. Modified Substrata and Individuation 149

CHAPTER NINE / TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY OF


SUBSTANCE 153
I. The Dilemma of Individuation 153
II. Substances and Their Kinds 158
III. A Substance-Theory of Substance 163
IV. Essentialism 166
V. Substances and Their Parts 170
VI. Genera and Species 173
VII. Individual Essences 175

EPILOGUE 181

INDEX OF NAMES 183

INDEX OF SUBJECTS 185


FOREWORD

In this book I address a dichotomy that is as central as any in ontology - that


between ordinary objects or substances and the various attributes (Le.,
properties, kinds, and relations) we associate with them. My aim is to arrive
at the correct philosophical account of each member of the dichotomy. What
I shall argue is that the various attempts to understand substances or attri-
butes in reductive terms fail. Talk about attributes, I shall try to show, is just
that - talk about attributes; and, likewise, talk about substances is just that -
talk about substances. The result is what many will find a strange combina-
tion of views - a Platonistic theory of attributes, where attributes are univer-
sals or multiply exemplifiable entities whose existence is independent of "the
world of flux", and an Aristotelian theory of substance, where substances are
basic unities not reducible to metaphysically more fundamental kinds of
things.
Part One is concerned with the ontology of attributes. After distinguishing
three different patterns of metaphysical thinking about attributes, I examine,
in turn, the phenomena of predication, resemblance, and higher order quanti-
fication. I argue that none of these phenomena by itself is sufficient to
establish the inescapability of a Platonistic interpretation of attributes. Then,
I discuss the phenomenon of abstract reference as it is exhibited in the use of
abstract singular terms. Here I consider a large number of attempts to reduce
talk involving the use of abstract Singular terms to philosophically less prob-
lematic discourse, and I argue that none of them succeeds. The only satisfac-
tory account of abstract reference, I argue, is provided by the Platonist; and
so I conclude that we are justified in embracing the doctrine of metaphysical
realism. I conclude Part I by examining some of the properties of attributes,
arguing, among other things, that they are necessary beings, that they are
ingenerable and incorruptible, that they are immutable, and that they are
non-denumerably infinite in number.
In Part Two, I invoke the Platonistic interpretation of attributes in examin-
ing the other half of this perennial ontological dichotomy. Here, I consider in
detail two opposing theories about the ontological structure of ordinary
objects - the bundle theory which construes substances as complexes whose
constituents are exclusively properties, and the substratum theory which
ix
x FOREWORD

contends that substances incorporate a constituent over and above their


properties - a bare substratum. I argue that while both theories are stronger
than is usually realized, both are ultimately unsatisfactory in that neither
provides a solution to what I call the problem of individuation. I argue that
we can resolve this problem only if we reject the reductionistic assumption
underlying both of these views, the assumption that substances are complexes
of metaphysically more basic entities. The position I arrive at in the end is an
Aristotelian account which holds that lowest level substance-kinds provide
the ontologist with concepts of fully individuated and fully articulated sub-
stances. Substances, I conclude, are just that - substances or members of
lowest level substance-kinds.
I have a number of debts to acknowledge. I want, first, to thank Professors
Robert Turnbull, James Cargile and Glenn Kessler, who read the manuscript
for this book and provided many helpful suggestions. I also want to thank the
students in my graduate seminars in metaphysics at the University of Notre
Dame and the University of Virginia. In retrospect, they can see how this
book developed from the discussions in those seminars. Thanks are also due
the editor of Philosophical Studies for allowing me to include a page or so
from 'The Concept of a Kind' (1976) in Section iv of Chapter Nine, the editor
of the Review of Metaphysics for allowing me to include a revised version of
part of 'Kinds and the Dilemma of Individuation' in Section ii of Chapter
Nine, the editor of the University of Notre Dame Press for granting his per-
mission to include scattered snipets from 'The Existence of Universals' (from
Universals and Particulars) in Chapters Two and Three, the editors of D.
Reidel Publishing Co. for allowing me to reprint the last few pages of 'Rules,
Roles, and Ontological Commitment' at the end of Section v of Chapter
Four, and George Thomas, who is editing a memorial volume on Bertrand
Russell forthcoming from George Allen and Unwin, for permitting me to use
revised versions of two parts of my contribution to the Russell volume in
Section iii of Chapter Six and Section v of Chapter Seven. Finally, I want to
thank three philosophers who, in different ways, have influenced what fol-
lows - Nicholas Wolterstorff, Alvin Plantinga, and Wilfrid Sellars. The first
introduced me to the problems with which this book is concerned in my first
quarter of graduate study at the University of Chicago and for the fourteen
years since has been a sympathetic audience and stimulating critic of the
views expressed here. The second, in both personal conversations and his
writings, has made me sensitive to the need for rigor, clarity, and argument in
philosophy. He has as well, doubtless to the nausea of many readers, con-
vinced me of the importance of the "possible worlds" approach to problems
FOREWORD xi

in ontology. The third has taught me the importance of the historical dimen-
sion of the philosophical enterprise and the need for a systematic approach to
philosophical problems. He will most certainly disagree with almost every-
thing I say here; but I think he will see his own influence on the book and
will recognize that the views I argue for here are merely his own inverted.

M.J.L.
PART ONE

ATTRIBUTES
CHAPTER ONE

ATTRIBUTE-AGREEMENT AND THE


PROBLEM OF UNIVERSALS

I. ATTRIBUTE-AGREEMENT: THREE INTERPRETATIONS

A pervasive feature of our experience is a phenomenon I shall call agreement


in attribute, agreement in things like properties, kinds, and relations. So per-
vasive is attribute-agreement that language provides us with a multiplicity of
devices for expressing the phenomenon. Thus, we can say of two shirts from
the same dye lot that they are the same shade of blue; but we can also say
that they have the same color, that the color of the one matches the color of
the other, that the color of the one is just like the color of the other, or, more
straightforwardly, that both shirts are, say, lavender.
From the perspective of the non-philosopher, these different ways of
expressing agreement in attribute come to much the same thing; but if we
examine them critically, we are likely to conclude that the presuppositions
underlying their use differ in important ways. Consider
(1) These shirts are both lavender.
(2) The color of this shirt is just like the color of that one.
and
(3) These shirts have the same color.
Using (1) to express the relevant agreement, we refer to the two shirts and
predicate of both the expression 'lavender'. The use of (1), we are tempted to
say, commits us to the existence of the two shirts and nothing more; the fact
that the two shirts agree is expressed by the use of a single predicate-expres-
sion. Focusing on (1), then, we are inclined to say that agreement in attribute
consists in the possibility of ascribing one and the same linguistic expression
to numerically different objects. The use of (2), however, seems to involve
deeper commitments. Here, we refer once again to the two shirts, but we
point to something else besides; we point to the attributes they exhibit, and
we say of those attributes that they are similar to or resemble each other.
Focusing on (2), then, we are tempted to say that agreement in attribute
involves not just two entities, the agreeing shirts, but four, that objects agree
in attribute only if each exhibits an attribute that is similar to some attribute
of the other. Finally, in the case of (3), the claim seems to be that the two
3
4 CHAPTER ONE

shirts exhibit not different yet resembling attributes, but rather the same
attribute. Thus (3) suggests that attribute-agreement involves different objects
exhibiting numerically one and the same attribute.
A consideration of each of (I)-(3), then, gives rise to three different con-
ceptions of what is involved in attribute-agreement; nor is the inclination to
generalize from (1 )-(3) off the mark. In confronting other cases of attribute-
agreement, we typically find that we can express the agreement by means of
sentences exhibiting the general form of (I )-(3), so that the question natural-
ly arises: which of these forms of sentence presents the most perspicuous
representation of attribute-agreement? To raise this question is to pose the
age-old problem of universals, and to answer it by appeal to sentences of one
of the three forms in question is to align oneself with one of three important
traditions in the dispute over universals. To accept sentences of form-(3) as
the paradigmatic devices for expressing attribute-agreement is to align oneself
with a tradition which, following standard philosophical usage, I shall call
metaphysical realism or Platonism. To adopt sentences of form-(2) as paradig-
matic, on the other hand, is to embrace a tradition I shall call nominalism,
and, finally, to hold that sentences of form-(!) present the most perspicuous
representation of attribute-agreement is to adopt a view I shall call extreme
nominalism. 1
As I shall understand it, then, metaphysical realism is the view that where
objects agree in attribute, there is at least one attribute which those objects
"have in common". Proponents of this view have employed a number of
different locutions for expressing this "commonality". Some have said that
objects participate, share in, or partake of a single attribute. Thus, in the
Parmenides, we find the younger Socrates agreeing that "there exist certain
Forms of which these other things come to partake and so to be called after
their names; by coming to partake of Likeness or Largeness or Beauty or
Justice, they become like or large or beautiful or just;"2 and the Russell of
the Problems of Philosophy uses similar language when he tells us that all the
things that agree in being just "partake of a common nature which will be
found in whatever is just and nothing else. This common nature, in virtue of
which they are all just, will be justice itself ... ,,3 Other realists, however, have
invoked a less picturesque terminology here. P. F. Strawson, for example,
tells us that objects agreeing in attribute all instantiate a single attribute;4
whereas philosophers like Gustav Bergmann and Alan Donagan prefer to
speak of the exemplification of attributes. S If we stick with the last of these
expressions, we can say that for the metaphysical realist attribute-agreement
is grounded in the multiple exemplification of attributes.
ATTRIBUTE-AGREEMENT 5

As realists have usually explained it, multiple exemplification is a generic


notion, one which can take on a variety of different forms. Thus, different
objects jointly or multiply exemplify a single property by possessing it; differ-
ent objects jointly or multiply exemplify a single kind by belonging to it;
and the objects making up different pairs (triples, quadruples, and generally,
n-tuples) jointly or multiply exemplify a single relation by entering into it.
There are, then, a variety of forms of multiple exemplification and a corres-
ponding variety of types or categories of attributes. 6 To bring out the multi-
ple exemplifiability of attributes of these different types, metaphysical real-
ists have called them universals and have contrasted them with what they
have called particulars, entitlies that cannot be multiply exemplified.
What I shall call nominalism, on the other hand, is the view that attribute-
agreement is grounded not in identity of attribute but in the weaker relation
of similarity or resemblance of attribute. The proponent of this view denies
that two distinct objects ever have what is literally the same color, the same
shape, the same size, or the same weight; or rather he insists that when we say
this, what we say has to be understood to mean that the shape of the one is
exactly like the shape of the other, that the color of the one is exactly like
the color of the other, and so on.7 Attributes construed in these nominalistic
terms have been variously labelled. They have been called "abstract particu-
lars", "tropes", 8 "aspects", and "cases". 9 These labels are all of relatively
recent vintage, but the view that it is the entities they label rather than attri-
butes construed in Platonistic terms that underlie the phenomonenon of
attribute-agreement has a long and distinguished history.1O Ockham quite
explicitly and self-consciously invokes the view in his treatment of attribute-
agreement within the Aristotelian category of quality;l1 and while they
occasionally used language that suggests the contrary, the British empiricists
developed accounts of attribute-agreement that are most plausibly construed
as nominalistic. In more recent times, we find both A. D. Woozley and D. C.
Williams endorsing a nominalistic treatment of attribute-agreement. Speaking
of a pair of red objects (A and B), Woozley tells us that "what is meant by
saying that there is something common to A and B in virtue of which they are
alike is that the red of A is like (maybe exactly like) the red of B ;,,12 and
Williams, reflecting on a pair of lollipops (Heraplem and Boanerp) which
agree. in shape, says:
The sense in which Heraplem and Boanerp "have the same shape" and in which "the
shape of one is identical with the shape of the other" is the sense in which two soldiers
"wear the same uniform" or in which'a son "has his father's nose" or our candy man
might say "I use the same identical stick, Ledbetter's Triple-X, in all my lollipops." They
6 CHAPTER ONE

do not "have the same shape" in the sense in which two children "have the same father"
or two streets have the same manhole in the middle of their intersection, or two college
boys "wear the same tuxedo" (and so can't go to dances together).! 3
Finally, philosophers I shall call extreme nominalists deny the existence of
attributes, whether construed in Platonistic or nominalistic terms. As they
interpret it, the phenomenon of attribute-agreement presupposes the exist-
ence of no entities over and above those that are correctly said to agree. I
have said that extreme nominalists want to take sentences of form-(l) (e.g.,
'Socrates and Plato are both men' and 'Socrates and Plato are both wise') as
the paradigms for expressing attribute-agreement. This is correct, but it can
be misleading; for it might seem to suggest that for the extreme nominalist
to say that objects agree in attribute is to say that some sentence of form-( 1)
is true. Stated in these terms, however, the extreme nominalist's account
would be doomed from the start; for surely attribute-agreement does not
depend upon language. Objects can agree in their attributes even where lan-
guage lacks the predicate resources for expressing their agreement in terms of
sentences of form-(I).
In fact, not many extreme nominalists have stated their position in a way
that makes attribute-agreement depend upon the predicate-resources at our
disposal. On the contrary, most extreme nominalists have expressed their
view by saying that two objects agree in property because both are wise, both
are round, both are red, or both are ... ; and they have contended that the
fact that objects are wise, round, red, or ... is fundamental in that it does not
presuppose the existence of any additional entities. Likewise, they have said
that two objects agree in kind because both are men, both are dogs, both are
gerania, or both are ... ; and they have denied that objects are dogs, men,
gerania, or ... in virtue of any further entities. Finally, they have claimed
that pairs of objects agree in relation because in the case of each pair, one
object is the teacher of the other, the father of the other, the sibling of the
other, or ... ; and they have denied that it is necessary to appeal to additional
entities in explaining how one object can be the father of, the teacher of, or
the sibling of another.
Now, when we express the extreme nominalist's view in these terms, it
becomes clear that his view does not presuppose that language incorporates
the predicate resources for expressing every case of attribute-agreement in
terms of a sentence of form-(1). What he is saying is simply that objects agree
in attribute because of how they ar;;, what they are, and how they are related
to other things and not because they exhibit or exemplify abstract entities of
one sort or another; and he wants to deny that how objects are, what they
A TT RIB UTE-AG R EEM ENT 7

are, and how they are related to each other are merely linguistic facts. On
the contrary, he tells us that these are things that are expressed in language;
and while he concedes that language may not always incorporate sufficient
predicate devices for specifying how things are, what they are, and how
they are related, he insists that where it does, agreement with respect to
these various attributes is most perspicuously represented by sentences of
form-(I).
Historically extreme nominalism can be traced at least as far back as the
writings of William of Ockham; for although Ockham accepts a nominalistic
interpretation of qualitative attribute-agreement, he is unwilling to generalize
here and claim that every instance of attribute-agreement presupposes the
existence of attributes. While conceding that there are qualitative attributes -
things like the Aristotelian proper sensibles, the various virtues, and the vices,
he denies that quantitative attribute-agreement or relational attribute-agree-
ment is grounded ih uniquely quantitative or relational attributes. 14 Where a
pair of objects agree in shape, for example, Ockham insists that their agree-
ment consists exclusively in the fact that both are triangular, both are circu-
lar, both are rectangular, or ...... ; and he denies that their being triangular,
their being circular, or their being rectangular presupposes their exemplifying
abstract entities of any sort. As he repeatedly tells us, all that is required of
an object that it be triangular, circular, or rectangular is that its various parts
be arranged in the requisite way. Ockham's account of attribute-agreement,
then, represents a blend of what I have called nominalism and extreme nomi-
nalism. Purer versions of extreme nominalism can be found in some ofW. V.
Quine's early papers and in the writings of Wilfrid Sellars. In "On What There
Is," for example, Quine says:

One may admit that there are red houses, roses, and sunsets, but deny except as a
popular and misleading manner of speaking, that they have anything in common. The
words 'house', 'rose', and 'sunset' are true of sundry individual entities which are
houses and roses and sunsets, and the word 'red' or 'red object' is true of each of sundry
individual entities which are red houses, red roses, and red sunsets; but there is not,
in addition, any entity whatever, individual or otherwise, which is named by the
word 'redness' nor, for that matter, by the words 'househood', 'rosehood', 'sunsethood'.
That houses, roses and sunsets are all of them red may be taken as ultimate and irre-
ducible. ls

Sellars, on the other hand, insists that all talk about attributes can be reduced
to talk about persons as language-users; and he tells us that the use of a
predicate-expression over numerically different objects or n-tuples of objects
has its ontological ground simply in "how objects are.,,16
8 CHAPTER ONE

II. ATTRIBUTE-AGREEMENT: THE NATURE OF THE DEBATE

Although proponents of these accounts have occasionally argued that there


is something incoherent in either or both of the views to which they stand
opposed,t7 the debate over the nature of attribute-agreement has usually
taken a different turn. Thus, the extreme nominalist typically questions not
the intelligibility or coherence of the accounts of attribute-agreement provid-
ed by the nominalist and realist but rather their theoretical point. He wants
to insist that his own theory is sufficiently rich to account for all the details
of attribute-agreement; and appealing to the principle of theoretical simpli-
city, he argues that the more cumbersome ontologies of his opponents in this
debate ought to be rejected. The nominalist on the other hand, typically
argues that the theoretical framework of the extreme nominalist is explana-
torily inadequate. He claims that we have no option but to embrace an ontol-
ogy of attributes; but he contends that an ontology which countenances only
individual or particular attributes is theoretically preferable to one which
introduces a whole new category of entities - universals. Insisting, then, that
his own account has an explanatory power exceeding that of the extreme
nominalist and equalling that of the realist, he claims that the principle of
theoretical parsimony dictates its adoption. Finally, the metaphysical realist
typically concedes the coherence of the ontological frameworks proposed by
the nominalist and extreme nominalist. Furthermore, he grants that their
accounts are theoretically simpler than his own; but he contends that unlike
his own view, their theories are insufficiently rich to accommodate all the
facets of attribute-agreement and so must be rejected in favor of a Platonistic
ontology.
Since I tend to side with the majority here and to hold that all three of the
views I have outlined are both intelligible and coherent, I am inclined to con-
strue the debate over attribute-agreement as one hinging on the explanatory
adequacy of the views in question. IS Thus, accepting in some broad sense a
principle of theoretical parsimony, I shall assume that, given the equal ex-
planatory power of these three theories, the account of the extreme nomi-
nalist is to be preferred to those proposed by the nominalist and metaphysical
realist. Likewise, I shall assume that, all things being equal, nominalism is
preferable to realism. What I want to ask is whether there are any compelling
reasons for thinking that the ontological frameworks recomm(lIded by the
nominalist and the extreme nominalist are insufficiently rich to provide a
theoretically adequate interpretation of the phenomenon at issue, the phe-
nomenon of attribute-agreement.
ATTRIBUTE-AGREEMENT 9

As I have indicated, metaphysical realists have insisted that there are; and
while they have appealed to a wide variety of facts in arguing this point (in-
cluding facts about the meaningfulness of language, the inter-subjectivity of
conceptual thinking, and the lawlikeness of the universe), the most popular as
well as the most powerful defenses of realism have hinged on facts of three
sorts - facts about predication, facts about resemblance, and facts about
abstract reference. Realists have argued, first, that we can account for the
truth of subject-predicate discourse only if we suppose that predicate-expres-
sions are referentially tied to multiply exemplifiable entities. Second, they
have argued that the applicability of the concept of similarity or resemblance
presupposes the existence of universals. Finally, they have contended that
since linguistic devices for referring to universals play essential roles in true
sentences, we have no option but to suppose that realism is true.
Now, the phenomena the realist appeals to in defense of his position are
carefully chosen. We have already seen how the extreme nominalist takes
sentences like 'Socrates and Plato are both wise' and 'Socrates and Plato are
both men' as paradigmatic representations of the ontological structure of
attribute-agreement. Such sentences, however, essentially involve the subject-
predicate nexus. In arguing that the truth of subject-predicate discourse
presupposes a realistic ontology, then, the realist seeks to undercut the ex-
treme nominalist's framework for understanding attribute-agreement. So far
from showing us that attribute-agreement fails to commit us to an ontology
of abstract entities, the realist is claiming, sentences of the extreme nominal-
ist's favored form - form-(l) - are such that their truth presupposes the
existence of universals. Likewise by arguing that the phenomenon of resem-
blance presupposes a realistic ontology, the realist attempts to undercut the
nominalist's analysis of attribute-agreement. The nominalist takes sentences
like 'The color of this shirt is just like the color of that one' to provide the
most perspicuous representation of attribute-agreement; but in arguing that
the truth of such sentences presupposes the existence of multiply exemplifi-
able entities, the realist attempts to show that the sentences the nominalist
takes as paradigmatic involve a commitment to the very universals he is seek-
ing to avoid.
Finally, in appealing to the phenomenon of abstract reference, the realist
seeks to show the incompleteness of the accounts provided by his opponents;
for even if we suppose them to be right in assuming that the phenomena of
predication and similarity fail to have the consequences the realist claims for
them, both the nominalist and extreme nominalist have to confront the fact
that sentences of the realist's favored form - sentences of form-(3) - enable
10 CHAPTER ONE

us to express the fact that objects agree in attribute. But such sentences incor-
porate expressions which, to all appearances, are devices for referring to
universals. What the realist argues is that abstract referring devices occur
essentially in these sentences; he holds that it is impossible to paraphrase
these sentences in such a way that the apparent reference to universals is
eliminated, and so he concludes that the truth of the sentences he takes to
provide the most perspicuous representation of attribute-agreement presup-
poses the existence of universals. 19
What the realist wants to claim, then, is that attribute-agreement is a phe-
nomenon which, viewed from any of its various perspectives, ultimately com-
mits us to the existence of multiply exemplifiable entities and, hence, to the
ontological framework he recommends. In the following three chapters, I
want to examine the realist's claim here in detail. In Chapter Two, I shall
examine the realist's contention that an ontology of universals can be defend-
ed by an analysis of predication; in Chapter Three, I shall examine arguments
that seek to establish the existence of universals on the basis of an analysis
of the concept of resemblance; and in Chapter Four, I shall examine the way
in which the phenomenon of abstract reference might be thought to ground
an ontology of universals.

NOTES

lOne might object that what has traditionally been called conceptualism has no place
in this scheme. Actually, traditional conceptualistic approaches to the problem of univer-
sals turn out to be versions of either nominalism or extreme nominalism on my account.
2 Parmenides, 130 E-131 A, translated by F. M. Cornford, p. 925 in Plato: The Collected
Dialogues, edited by Hamilton and Cairns, (New York: Pantheon Books), 1961. Here, I
must apologize to Plato-experts. I am fully aware that Plato does not use the expression
TO KCX(Jc'x"AOV; I am also aware there is a debate as to whether there is a doctrine of
"universals" in Plato; but however that debate is finally resolved, I think that the issues
Plato is concerned with in his discussion of Forms are quite close to (indeed, are the
ancestors 00 the issues at work in subsequent controversies over universals and that the
way he resolves those issues is at least a near relative of the way later metaphysical
realists tried to resolve them. So, realizing that there may be something of an anachron-
ism here, I shall classify Plato as a realist and take his theory of Forms (at least as it is
presented in the middle dialogues) to be a theory of universals.
3 Problems of Philosophy, (Oxford: Clarendon Press), 1912, p. 143.
4 'Particular and General,' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1953-4; reprinted in
my Universals and Particulars (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press),
1976; see especially pp. 85-86. Hereafter, where an article is included in this anthology,
I shall cite the page references as they are found there.
S See Donagan's 'Universals and Metaphysical Realism,' Monist, 1963; reprinted in
ATTRIBUTE-AGREEMENT 11

Loux, Universals and Particulars, p. 135. See also Bergmann's 'Logical Positivism, Lan-
guage, and the Reconstruction of Metaphysics,' The Metaphysics of Logical Positivism
(Madison: University of Wisconsin Press), 1954, p. 52.
6 I do not mean to suggest that these are the only categories of attributes that meta-
physical realists have insisted on recognizing. Realists have sometimes argued for the
irreducible status of other types of multiply exemplifiable attributes including things like
actions, processes, and states or conditions. They may be right, but since the three cate-
gories of attributes I have listed here provide us with enough problems, I shall not con-
cern myself in what follows with the question whether the domain of attributes has to
include more categories than these three.
7 As with realism, there are problems about the number of distinct categories of attri-
butes the nominalist will recognize. Some have recognized only properties and have
insisted that other forms of attribute-agreement are to be analyzed in terms of the
phenomenon of property-agreement; whereas, other nominalists have admitted the
existence of both properties and relations. The notion of kind-agreement will turn out to
cause special problems for the nominalist. Indeed, it will be a central contention of
Chapter Four that no nominalist can adequately handle this notion.
8 The terms 'abstract particular' and 'trope' are used by D. C. Williams in 'On the Ele-
ments of Being, I,' Review of Metaphysics, 1953, p. 7.
9 The terms 'aspect' and 'case' are coined by Nicholas Wolterstorff. See On Universals
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 1970, p. 89 and pp. 133-134.
10 In some places (e.g., Metaphysics Z.16 (1040 b 25-27), Aristotle suggests that this
sort of approach is correct; in other places, however, he seems to accept a more Platonis-
tic interpretation of attribute-agreement. Anyone who has tried to become clear on
Aristotle's theory of universals will agree that it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify
a single account in all of Aristotle's remarks on the topic.
11 Or at least for most of the contents of this category. With regard to figure and form,
Ockham accepts an account of attribute-agreement that is pretty clearly of the extreme
nominalist sort. I do not find this too surprising since predicates expressing figure and
form are more closely related to quantitative predicates than they are to your run-of-
the-mill qualitative predicates. See Chapters 5 and 55 in the Summa Logicae, I, pp.
56-58 and pp. 178-180 in my Ockham's Theory of Terms (Notre Dame, Indiana:
University of Notre Dame Press), 1974.
12 Theory of Knowledge (London: Hutchinson University Library), 1949, p. 95.
13 'On the Elements of Being, I,' pp. 5-6.
14 See Chapters 6-8 of Part I of the Summa Logicae, pp. 50-64 in my Ockham's
Theory of Terms.
15 'On What There Is' in From a Logical Point of View (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press), 1954, p. 10.
16 See, e.g., Science and Metaphysics (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1967,
p.l07.
17 A familiar claim here is that the notion of multiple exemplification is incoherent.
This claim is first made in Plato's Parmenides (131 A-E), where Parmenides argues that
the multiple exemplification of or participation in Forms can be understood in either
of two ways. (1) The realist can say that the different objects exemplifying a single Form
each partake of a distinct part of one and the same Form; or (2) he can claim that each
of them partakes of the Form wholly and completely. Parmenides rightly objects to the
12 CHAPTER ONE

first interpretation of multiple exemplification on the grounds that Forms are not the
sorts of things that have parts; but he also claims that the second account is unsatis-
factory telling us that if a Form is wholly and completely present in distinct objects, it
will be divided from itself. But will it? Well, only if it is impossible for a single object to
be wholly and completely present in numerically distinct objects. But it should be clear
that Parmenides cannot invoke this principle in arguing against the realist; for to suppose
that realism is true is just to suppose that the principle is false.
18 Most contemporary philosophers would agree with me here. The only exception I
know of is Nicholas Wolterstorff. While he seeme to think that all three of the views I
have outlined here are coherent, he denies that the principle of simplicity serves to
adjudicate the dispute between proponents of those views. See, e.g., p. 127 of his On
Universals.
19 The realist will, in the end, reject the claim that talk about sentences is rich enough
to enable us to make sense of semantical properties like truth, falsity, analyticity, and
syntheticity. He will opt for the framework of propositions. But since what is at issue in
the debate is the existence of abstract entities of any sort, he can hardly employ that
framework in establishing his position. He must, then, make his case by talking about
sentences. I shall follow him in this. Thus, the first four chapters of this book are all
couched in the language of sentences. In Chapter Five, however, I adopt the framework
of propositions and employ it for the remainder of the book, except for a brief discus-
sion of subject-predicate discourse in Chapter Seven. There, the philosophical literature
on the bundle theory forces me to employ the framework of sentences in handling a
certain difficulty confronting that theory of substance.
CHAPTER TWO

PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS

I. REALISM AND PREDICATION

The contention that the phenomenon of predication commits us to a realistic


ontology has a long and distinguished history. Typically, the contention is
expressed in the claim that predicate-expressions must be construed as stand-
ing in some referential relation to universals. While the view is suggested in
Plato's writings, it receives its first explicit formulation in Aristotle's De
Interpretatione where after telling us that a predicate-expression is "a sign of
something said of something else,"! Aristotle defines the universal as "that
which is of such a nature as to be predicated of many objects.,,2 Medieval
Aristotelians generally accepted Aristotle's contention that predicates are
referentially linked with universals; and in more recent times, we find Frege
endorsing the view as well. Frege tells us that concepts are the referents of
predicate-expressions, and he identifies concepts with the properties of
objects. 3 Russell also echoes the traditional theme that predicates refer to
universals when he tells us that "substantives, adjectives, prepositions, and
verbs," the expressions which serve as predicate-terms, "stand for universals ;"4
and in the past few decades we find philosophers as different as Gustav Berg-
mann and P. F. Strawson following Russell here. Thus, Bergmann tells us that
primitive predicates name universals, so that whoever "admits a single primi-
tive predicate admits properties among the building-stones of his world;" 5
and Strawson, invoking a rather different terminology, claims that the use of
a predicate-expression within the context of a subject-predicate sentence has
the effect of "introducing" a universal "into discourse."6
Thus, although they express the point in different ways, all of these philos-
ophers agree that the predicate-expressions of subject-predicate sentences
must be construed as being referentially tied to universals. 7 The rationale
behind this view is, I think, captured in a remark by Alan Donagan. Com-
menting on the contention of Russell and G. E. Moore that we must take
"predicates occurring non-redundantly in true propositions" to denote "real
things", Donagan says:
It is plain why Russell and Moore adhered to this principle. They could not conceive
how otherwise propositions containing primitive predicates could state facts about the

13
14 CHAPTER TWO

world. And certainly this consideration is weighty. If the ultimate non-logical and non-
formal constituents of true propositions refer to nothing in the world, in what can the
truth of such propositions consist?8

What Dongagan seems to be claiming here is that truth has to be anchored


in non-linguistic fact. It has to be because of some correspondence between
language and the world that sentences come out true; and as he sees it, the
requisite correspondence is possible only on the assumption that the non-
logical constituents of true sentences function as devices for referring to
objects out in the world. But, then, the predicates of true subject-predicate
sentences must be construed as referring devices; and Donagan presumably
thinks that their referents must be identified with universals. Suppose, for
example, that
(1) Socrates is wise
is true. According to Donagan, we can explain how this sentence is true only
if we suppose that as they occur in (1), both 'Socrates' and 'wise' function
as devices for referring to non-linguistic objects. Now, obviously the term
'Socrates' serves to pick out the man Socrates; but the referent of 'wise' must
be something such that by pointing to it, together with Socrates, we can ex-
plain how (1) is true; and the attribute wisdom would seem to be the only
thing that satisfies this condition. Construing it as the referent of the predi-
cate-term of (I), we can say that it is because the referent of 'Socrates'
exemplifies the referent of 'wise' that 'Socrates is wise' is true.
Now, it might be thOUght that we would construe the referent of 'wise'
here in nominalistic terms. Towards countering this suggestion, Donagan
appeals to the fact that predicates have generality of application. 9 Thus, the
use of 'wise' is not limited to (1); that term can function predicatively in true
sentences whose subject-terms refer to objects other than Socrates. But ob-
viously the contribution 'wise' makes to those sentences is precisely the same
contribution it makes to (l); and Donagan apparently takes this to be a rea-
son for thinking that its referent is the same entity in the different sentences.
Donagan wants to claim, then, that if we are to explain how subject-
predicate truth is grounded in non-linguistic fact, we must construe predicate-
expressions as devices for referring to attributes; and since predicates have
generality of application, he wants to claim that we must construe the attri-
butes which predicate-expressions pick out as multiply exemplifiable entities.
Now, few of the philosophers I have mentioned are as forthright as Donagan
in explaining the rationale behind their contention that predicates refer
to universals; but I am inclined to think that all of them would accept his
PREDICA TION AND UNIVERSALS 15

account of the matter. They would, I think, all agree that unless we construe
predicates as devices for referring to universals, we cannot explain "how
propositions containing ... predicates"lO enable us to "state facts about the
world." This is a strong claim;' for what the realist is claiming is that he and
he alone has the resources for adequately explaining the truth of subject-
predicate discourse.
Before we can evaluate this claim, however, we have to get clearer on just
what is involved in a realistic interpretation of predication. According Dona-
gan, the realist is claiming that a predicate-term has a single universal as its
referent in the various subject-predicate sentences in which it is functioning
predicatively; and he is telling us that where one of these sentences is true,
the relevant universal is an attribute which the referent of the sentence's
subject-term exemplifies. But if this is what the realist is claiming, then his
interpretation of predication incorporates two theses. The first (I shall call it
(I) is the view that where a predicate-term 'F', can be truly applied to all and
only the objects, a . .. n, there is some universal, U, which all and only a ... n
exhibit or exemplify; the second (II) is the view that when a predicate-term
functions predicatively in a true subject-predicate sentence, it serves to pick
out or refer to the universal, U, which is exhibited by all and only the objects
of which it is truly predicable. Since (II) presupposes the truth of (I), let us
begin by examining (I).

II. ALLEGED COUNTER-EXAMPLES TO (I)

(I), I have said, is the view that where a predicate-term is truly predicable of
all and only the objects, a . .... n, there is some universal exemplified by all
and only a . .... n. Two preliminary remarks are necessary here. First, as I
have stated it, (I) is a general claim that applies to all predicate-terms; but the
fact is that some proponents of a realistic interpretation of predication (e.g.,
Russell, Bergmann, and possibly Donagan) have insisted that (I) be restricted
to the case of primitive as opposed to defined predicates. 11 I am sticking with
the generalized version of (I) partly because I have doubts about the semantic
atomism that underlies the proposed restriction on the thesis. I do not fmd it
obvious that predicate-expressions are susceptible of a neat division into those
that are primitive and those that are defined or that if such a division is
possible, there is just one way of drawing it so that the division is any more
than system-relative. But even if it were to turn out that there is a sharp and
absolute distinction between the primitive and the defined, I am inclined to
think that it would be perfectly harmless to speak of universals as correspond-
16 CHAPTER TWO

ing to defined predicates. If we were to suppose, for example, that 'red' and
'circular' are primitive' predicates, we could, I think, still speak of the univer-
sal that is common to all and only the things to which the defined predicate
'red and circular' applies. We might, of course, want to claim that that univer-
sal is, in some sense, reducible to the universals corresponding to the predi-
cates 'red' and 'circular'; but I find this perfectly consistent with the general-
ized version of (I); for that thesis does not tell us that there must be an
irreducible or unanalyzable universal corresponding to every predicate-term,
but only that there must be some universal or other. 12
Second, whether (I) be taken in a general or restricted form, it should not
be confused with a quite different claim about predicate-terms, the claim that
a speaker's ability to apply predicate-terms correctly is grounded in his ability
to recognize in objects the presence of the universal that (I) tells us is exhibit-
ed by all and only the things of which that expression is truly predicable. This
claim is an epistemological thesis about speaker-competence, and it is likely
false; for it is plausible to think that, in general at least, the ability to classify
objects according to a predicate-term is prior to the ability to identify the
universal that all and only those objects exemplify. Proponents of (I) have, of
course, sometimes conflated (I) with this claim about speaker-competence;
but as I am understanding it, (I) makes no claim at all about the kind of
knowledge involved in a speaker's ability to use predicate-terms. (I) is a meta-
physical rather than an epistemological claim, the claim that where 'F' is a
predicate-term, there is a universal exemplified by all and only the objects
that are F. 13
But even when it is disentangled from the epistemological claim about
speaker competence, (I) is likely to appear false. It might be thought, for
example, that the phenomenon of predicate-ambiguity tells against (I). Thus,
the term 'bat', can be predicated of things of two quite different sorts - cer-
tain flying rodents and the wooden sticks used in playing baseball; but there
is no single universal that underlies the applicability of the term to entities of
both sorts. Likewise, the term 'mole' is truly predicable of all the members of
a certain species of burrowing mammals; it is also truly predicable of certain
congenital protuberances of the skin, but no single universal grounds the use
of the term in the two cases.
But do ambiguous predicates like these really tell against (I)? That depends
on whether we want to characterize predicate-ambiguity by saying that one
and the same term has several meanings or by speaking of different expres-
sions as embedded in one and the same phoneme or string of phonemes. It
seems to me that the question calls for a decision rather than an answer; but
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 17

even if we decide upon the first alternative, we can reformulate (I) in such a
way that the phenomenon of predicate-ambiguity poses no problem for the
realist. We can express the insight at work in (I) by saying that where a predi-
cate-term applies in one and the same sense to all and only the objects, a . .. n,
there is a single universal, U, such that all and only a ... n exhibit U.
A rather different problem for (I) is posed by a predicate-term suggested
by some remarks of Alvin Plantinga. 14 Plantinga suggests that we might
introduce into English the predicate 'sizeable' and define it as follows:
_ _ _ _ is sizeable = df. ' _ _ _ _ ' has more than six letters.
Given the definition, Richard Milhouse Nixon is sizeable since 'Richard
Milhouse Nixon' has more than six letters; but Pele is not since 'Pele' does not
have more than six letters. Now, when we who know the ex-president only as
a public figure employ Plantinga's predicate in
(2) Gerald Ford is sizeable,
what we say is true; but when Mrs. Ford invokes the predicate in
(3) Jerry is sizeable,
what she says is false. The difficulty, however, is that the person Mrs. Ford
refers to in (2) is the same person we are referring to in (3); but, then, if we
stick with (I), we are forced to hold what is patently contradictory - that the
universal associated with 'sizeable' is simultaneously both exemplified and
not exemplified by one and the same person.
Now, it should be clear how this apparent counter-example to (I) is to be
handled. As Plantinga points out, the contradiction in question arises only if
we suppose that his definition of 'sizeable' has the effect of creating a predi-
cate genuinely applicable to non-linguistic objects;15 but it should be apparent
that it does not. All the definition does is provide us with a convention for
rewriting sentences like
(4) 'Gerald Ford' has more than six letters
without explicitly invoking the convention of quotation. The predicate 'size-
able', then, is only apparently predicated of the same objects in (2) and (3).
In fact, the use of the term in the two sentences has the effect of quoting the
terms ('Gerald Ford' and 'Jerry') with which it appears; and the predicate-
term which it abbreviates, quite compatibly with (I), expresses a single ortho-
graphical universal which 'Gerald Ford', but not 'Jerry" exemplifies.
Some remarks of Quine point to a family of predicates which appear to be
18 CHAPTER TWO

like 'sizeable' but cannot be handled in precisely the same way.16 Quine's
example is the predicate 'so called because of his size'. Now, the Italian
Barbarelli was apparently of diminutive stature and, consequently, was called
by the diminutive 'Giorgione', so that
(5) Giorgione was so-called because of his size
is true, but
(6) Barbarelli was so-called because of his size
is false. However, since Barbarelli was Giorgione, the proponent of (I) once
again appears to be committed to endorsing a contradiction. This time, how-
ever, the strategy of taking the problematic predicate to be metalinguistic will
not work; for in some sense (5) and (6) are about non-linguistic entities. The
contrast with the case of 'sizeable' comes not when we note that since (2) is
true just in case (4) is true, (2) comes out true even in the case where there is
no one named Gerald Ford. (5), on the other hand, can be true only if some-
one was actually called Giorgione. But while (5) and (6) do involve a reference
to one and the same non-linguistic object, the Italian in question, it would be
wrong to think that the predicate 'so called because of his size' is being predi-
cated of that individual taken by himself. The fact is that 'so called because
of his size' is a relational predicate which applies to objects taken in pairs.
One of the objects from the pair is a non-linguistic entity; the other is a lin-
guistic expression. What makes the sentences in which the predicate appears
so puzzling is that we use one and the same linguistic expression to refer to
the entities, both linguistic and non-linguistic, which make up these pairs; but
it is easy enough to paraphrase these sentences in such a way that their depth
grammar becomes perspicuous. Thus, (5) becomes
(7) Giorgione was called by the name 'Giorgione', and he was called
by that name because of his size;
whereas, (6) becomes
(8) Barbarelli was called by the name 'Barbarelli', and he was called
by that name because of his size.
But, then, the fact that (5) is true while (6) is false provides no consolation
for the opponent of {I); for the common predicate here is only apparently
predicated the same entity in the two cases. In fact, in (5) it is predicated
of Giorgione and 'Giorgione' taken as a pair; and in (6), it is predicated of
Giorgione and 'Barbarelli' taken as a pair. While the predicate truly applies in
the case of the first pair, it does not apply in the case of the second.
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 19

So far our discussion of (I) has focused on the exceptional case where a
predicate-term is ambiguous and on exotic predicates like 'sizeable' and 'so
called because .. .'; but in the writings of the later Wittgenstein, we meet with
the contention that (I) is incapable of handling even the most ordinary predi-
cate-expressions. Thus, in the Philosop~ical Investigations, Wittgenstein insists
that if we approach the issue with no antecedent philosophical prejudices,
we find that there is no single universal or set of universals exhibited by
all and only the objects of which the expression 'game' is truly predicable.
Wittgenstein says:

Consider for example the proceedings that we call "games". I mean board-games, card-
games, Olympic games and so on. What is common to them all? Don't say: "There must
be something common, or they would not be called 'games' " - but look and see whe-
ther there is anything common to all. - For if you look at them you will not see some-
thing that is common to all, but similarities, relationships, and a whole series of them at
that. To repeat: don't think but look! Look, for example, at board-games, with their
multifarious relationships. Now, pass to card-games; here you find many correspondences
with the first group, but many common features drop out, and others appear. When we
pass next to ball-games, much that is common is retained, but much is lost. -- Are they
all 'amusing'? Compare chess with noughts and crosses. Or is there always winning and
losing, or competition between players? Think of patience. In ball-games there is winning
and losing; but when a child throws his ball at the wall and catches it again, this feature
has disappeared. Look at the parts played by skill and luck; and at the difference be-
tween skill in chess and skill at tennis. Think now of games like ring-a-ring-a-roses; here
is the element of amusement, but how many other characteristic features have dis-
appeared! and we can go through the many, many other groups of games in the same
way; can see how similarities crop up and disappear. 17

The claim, then, is that when we examine the set of objects correctly called
games, we find no single universal or group of universals which cuts across the
set. What we find, on the contrary, is a "complicated network of similarities
overlapping and criss-crossing" (what Wittgenstein goes on to call "family
resemblances"); it is this network of similarities, Wittgenstein is claiming,
rather than a single universal that grounds the use of the term 'game'.
Confronted with these remarks, one might think that the best course for
the proponent of a realistic interpretation of predication is simply to concede
Wittgenstein his counter-example to (I) and to try to find some way of re-
stricting the scope of (I). Indeed, since 'game' is pretty clearly not a primitive
predicate, it might be thought that a plausible strategy here is to follow
philosophers like Bergmann and Russell in distinguishing between primitive
and defined predicates and to claim that while Wittgenstein has succeeded in
showing that there need be no single universal underlying the use of predicates
20 CHAPTER TWO

of the latter sort, predicates of the former sort are immune to the Wittgen-
steinian critique. Such a strategy is, however, misguided on two counts. First,
part of what Wittgenstein means to challenge by these remarks is the sort of
atomism that Russell and Bergmann embrace - the view that every predicate
is either primitive or capable of being defined in terms of primitives. Second
and more importantly, a line of argument parallel to that presented in the
case of 'game' could be invoked to call into question the applicability of
(I) to the very terms that philosophers like Bergmann and Russell take to
be primitive. Color-words like 'red' and 'blue' are usually construed as para-
'digmatic examples of primitive or undefined expressions; but as Renford
Bambrough points out in criticism of a similar move on the part of A. J. Ayer,
Wittgenstein would deny that there is any single thing which all and only red
objects have in common. IS Bambrough's point is that since 'red' marks off a
fairly wide range of the spectrum, red objects can literally differ in color. Nor
will it do to insist that it is the predicates marking the different shades of red
rather than 'red' that count as primitive predicates; for the same form of argu-
ment applied in their case. Terms like 'crimson', 'scarlet', 'vermillion', and
'burgundy' do not mark off a discrete point on the spectrum; like 'red', they
apply within a range. Now, the point here is not that it is impossible for dif-
ferent objects to exhibit a color at one and the same point on the spectrum.
Bambrough's point I take it, is rather that given the limited stock of color-
predicates in our language, it is extremely unlikely that the proponent of even
a very restricted version of (I) will be able to identify predicates that corres-
pond exactly with the cases where this happens.
Thus, if one finds Wittgenstein's remarks about the predicate-term 'game'
impressive evidence against (I), he would be wrong to think that he could
preserve a realistic interpretation of predication by restricting that principle
to the case of primitive predicates. But do Wittgenstein's remarks about
'game' and Bambrough's remarks about color-words really count as evidence
against (I)? I am not convinced that they do; for while I think that Bambrough
is right in pointing to the divergences among red objects, I am, nonetheless,
inclined to think that the realist could plausibly argue that there is a property
common to all and only red objects, the property of having a color within a
certain range at the lower end of the spectrum. This, I take it, is just what the
property of being red is. Likewise, it seems to me that despite the veryexhaus-
tive inventory of attributes that might be common to all games, Wittgenstein
has overlooked the most obvious candidate here - the property of being a
game; for it is surely plausible to suppose that all and only the objects of which
'game' is truly predicable exemplify this property. But perhaps Wittgenstein
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 21

would ask us what this property amounts to. One plausible answer, I take
it, is that the property of being a game is a disjunctive property, a property
formed from the disjunction of all of those properties his very detailed
reflections point to. Wittgenstein rejects this answer, telling us that in sug-
gesting this account of the property of being a game, we "are only playing
with words ;,,19 but just how are we playing with words here? If the property
of being a game actually is a disjunctive property of the sort just specified,
then what grounds for complaint are there if the proponent of (I) points
this out?

III. THE ALLEGED CIRCULARITY OF (I)

But perhaps we are misunderstanding Wittgenstein. Perhaps he was trying to


show that the concept of a game is open-ended, so that it is impossible to
state determinately just which attributes enter into the disjunctive property
supposedly constitutive of being a game. But, then, his remarks are plausibly
construed as pointing to a circularity in (I). Since it is impossible to specify
once and for all the properties constitutive of the disjunction in question, the
realist can identify the property which he claims to underlie the applicability
of 'game' only by employing the term 'game' itself; and this, we can suppose
the later Wittgenstein to be saying, makes the use of (I) inherently circular.
Trying to explain the applicability of a predicate-term, the realist points to an
entity that can be identified only by reference to the predicate-term whose
use was to be explained.
But even if Wittgenstein is not concerned to make this point, the conten-
tion that (I) is circular is defended by D. F. Pears in a paper that was heavily
influenced by the work of the later Wittgenstein. 2o Pears takes the circularity
here to be general. Towards showing this, he argues that it appears even in the
case of hum-drum predicates like 'red'. The proponent of (I) tries to explain
the applicability of this expression by pointing to some entity common to all
and only the objects satisfying the predicate. Which entity? The color red, he
tells us; but according to Pears, such an account is "too obviously circular
even to look informative;,,21 for the term whose use was to be explicated
appears as an essential ingredient in the explanation.
Alan Donagan has responded to Pears' charge of circularity by claiming
that Pears has confused use and mention. 22 He insists that when this distinc-
tion is made explicit, the alleged circularity in the realist's account disappears.
The realist is seen to be claiming that things are called by the predicate-term
'red' because they all exhibit the color red; and, according to Donagan, there
22 CHAPTER TWO

is no circularity in this claim since it begins with a reference to a word and


concludes with a reference to the non-linguistic entity that supports its use.
But while I agree that Donagan's rejoinder clears the proponent of (I)
from the change of circularity, I am inclined to think that his response
concedes too much to Pears. What Donagan assumes is that in the realist's
account it is one and the same term that is mentioned in the statement of
the datum to be explained and later used in the explanation of that datum.
In the case of a term like 'red' (as well as other color words), this certainly
seems to be the case; but when we turn to other examples, the assumption
comes into question. Thus, if the predicate-term whose applicability is to be
explained is 'triangular', the expression used in identifying the entity ground-
ing its applicability is not the general term 'triangular' but rather the singular
term 'triangularity'. The proponent of (I) wants to hold that the predicate-
term 'triangular' applies to objects in virtue of their exemplifying trian-
gularity, and, likewise, that the predicate-term 'courageous' applies to objects
in virtue of their exemplifying courage. Now, the fact that in these cases the
predicate-term whose applicability is to be explained does not appear (even
in first order discourse) in the realist's explanation suggests that we take
another look at the case of 'red'; and when we do, what we find is that it is
only apparently the same expression that is mentioned and then later used.
In fact, the term whose applicability the realist seeks to ground is a general
term and the expression he uses in pointing to the ground of its applicability
is a Singular term. The source of the difficulty here is the syntactical am-
biguity of color-words. Color-words can function as singular terms purported-
ly naming the various colors and also as general terms predicable of the
objects which (on the realist's account) exemplify those colors; and it is just
this ambiguity that underlies Pears' example. But, then, it is not simply a
confusion of use and mention but also the syntactic ambiguity of color-words
that misleads us into thinking that Pears' charge of Circularity has any plausi-
bility at all. 23

IV. (I) AND INFINITE REGRESSES

As early as Plato, philosophers have argued that (I) is unsatisfactory on the


grounds that its application inevitably lands us in an infinite regress. Thus, in
the Parmenides, we find the following interchange between Parmenides and
the younger Socrates:
Parmenides: How do you feel about this? I imagine your grounds for believing in a single
Form in each case is this: when it seems to you that a number of things are large, there
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 23

seems, I suppose, to be a single character which is the same when you look at them all;
hence you think that Largeness is a single thing.
Socrates: True.
Parmenides: But now take Largeness itself and the other things which are large. Suppose
you look at all these in the same way in your mind's eye, will not yet another unity
make its appearance - a Largeness by virtue of which they all appear large?
Socrates: So it would seem.
Parmenides: If so, a second Form of Largeness will present itself over and above the
things that share in it; and again covering all these, yet another, which will make them
large. So each of your Forms will no longer be one, but an indefinite number. 24

This passage has given rise to more critical commentary than any text in
Plato. Since I have no intention of adding to the very extensive literature on
this passage, I shall limit myself to a few comments about the relationship
between this argument and what I have called (I).
In this interchange, Socrates serves as the spokesman for realism and
Parmenides, its critic. Parmenides' opening remarks make it clear that some-
thing like (I) is at issue here; and the application of (I) that is envisioned bears
on the predicate-term 'large'. What the realist is supposed to be claiming is
that ordinary objects are called large because they one and all exemplify
Largeness. Parmenides, however, presumably wants to claim that Largeness
is itself large; and he takes this to be a reason for supposing that the realist
has to appeal to a second Largeness, a Largeness in virtue of which all ordi-
nary large things as well as the Largeness they exemplify can be said to be
large. But if the first Largeness is large, the second Largeness will also be
large, so that the realist must appeal to a third Largeness if he is to explain
how it is that objects can satisfy the predicate 'large'; and obviously there will
be no end to the Largenesses he must appeal to here; consequently, his use of
(I) can never do what it is supposed to do - give us a final explanation of
why objects are called large; and, of course, the argument here is perfectly
general, so that no application of (I) can accomplish what it is supposed to
accomplish.
It might seem that this argument can be blocked if we deny that the first
Largeness the realist appeals to is itself large. It might seem, that is, that it is
only if we suppose what is not the case - that universals are selfpredicable
(i.e., are such that the predicates whose use they serve to explain are truly
predicable of them) - that the infinite regress Parmenides points to actually
arises. Now, for many universals, it is true that they are not in the sense just
indicated self-predicable. If there is such a thing as Largeness, then, whatever
24 CHAPTER TWO

Plato may have thought, it is not itself large; neither is courage, courageous;
trangularity, triangular; nor mankind, a man. Nevertheless, some universals
are self-predicable. Thus, the property of being self-identical is self-identical;
the property of having no color has no color; and the property of being
colored if green is itself colored if green. Thus, while Parmenides may be
wrong in supposing that the infinite regress he points to arises for all appli-
cations of (I), there surely appear to be applications of (I) that give rise to the
difficulties he mistakenly reads into the application of (I) to the predicate-
term 'large'.
Even here, however, the infinite regress Parmenides points to arises only if
we assume that where a predicate is applicable to all and only the entities,
a . .. n, there is some entity outside the series a . .. n which all of those ob-
jects exemplify. Now, that assumption surely holds in the case where the
predicate-term whose applicability is to be explained is not predicable of the
universal which underlies its applicability; but can the realist not claim that
this assumption fails to hold in the case of a self-predicable universal? Can he
not say, that is, that where a universal, U, is self-predicable, the predicate-
term in question applies to U in virtue of the fact that U exemplifies itself?
It seems to me that he can. 1 find it perfectly plausible to think that the
predicate 'has no color' applies to the property of not having any color not
because that property exemplifies some universal distinct from itself, but
simply because it exemplifies itself. Likewise, 1 find it plausible to suppose
that the predicate 'cQlored if green' is truly predicable of the property of
being colored if green not because that property exemplifies something else
but simply because it is self-exemplifying. But if it is plausible to suppose that
self-predication is grounded in self-exemplification, then the proponent of (I)
can avoid the regress Parmenides points to even in the case of universals that
are self-predicable. 25
There are, however, other ways in which (I) might be thought to land its
proponent in an infinite regress. Thus, (I) tells us that the applicability of a
predicate-term is grounded in the exemplification of a universal. Let us sup-
pose (I) to be applied in the case of some arbitrary predicate-term 'F'. (I) tells
us that the objects, a . .. n, of which 'F' is truly predicable all exhibit some
universal. Call that universal F-ness. Now, if i~ is true that each of a . .. n
exemplifies F-ness, then the predicate 'exemplifies F-ness' is truly predicable
of each of a ... n; but given (I), this presupposes that a ... n exemplify some
new universal, that of exemplifying F-ness. Of course, the exemplification by
each of a ... n of this new universal allows us to affirm of each of a ... n yet
another predicate-term; and that this third term is truly predicable of each of
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 2S
a . . . n presupposes, in turn, that each of them exemplifies yet another univer-
sal; and so on ad infinitum. The analysis to which (I) gives rise never ends;
each universal introduces a new predicate-term; and that, in turn, requires the
postulation of still another universal. Conclusion? (I) must be false since it
cannot be applied without landing its proponent in an infinite regress.
The realist can, however, respond to this infinite regress argument in either
of two ways. First, he can concede that this regress is real but claiming that
it does not render his explanation of the applicability of any particular predi-
cate-term impossible, he can deny that the regress is vicious. The point here is
that the regress would be vicious if it were impossible to explain the appli-
cability of a predicate-term without pointing to every member in the series
of intrusive universals; but the realist can deny that anything of the sort is
necessary here. He can concede that when we ground the applicability of a
particular predicate-term by appeal to a universal, we do introduce a new
predicate-expression, but he can deny that our failure to ground the appli-
cability of this new predicate-term does anything to threaten our account of
the applicability of the original predicate-expression. We can, he will agree,
go on and explain the applicability of this new predicate-expression; but he
will claim that we can also discontinue our account without invalidating what
has gone before.
But if, on grounds of theoretical simplicity, he finds this response unsatis-
factory, the realist can deny that the regress in question is real. While agreeing
that at each successive stage in the explanation we can formulate what
appears to be a new predicate-term, he can insist that each new expression
differs only syntactically or grammatically from those predicate-expressions
which precede it in the series. He can say, that is, that while the predicate-
term 'exemplifies wisdom' is structurally different from the predicate 'is
wise', the two are semantically indistinguishable; and, then, he can claim that
their applicability is grounded in one and the same universal, thereby stopping
the regress before it gets started. 26
Before concluding this section, I want to consider one last regress that
might be thought to be implied by (I). What (I) tells us is that a predicate-
term 'F' is truly predicable of an object, a, only if a and the universal under-
lying the use of 'F' (call it F-ness) are related in a certain way; but presum-
ably the proponent of (I) wants to deny that a and F-ness are related of and
by themselves; for what he tells us is that it is only because of a's exemplifi-
cation of F-ness that 'F' is truly predicable of a. It should be clear, however,
that exemplification can bring it about that a and F-ness are related in the
requisite way only if it is itself related to each of a and F-ness. But if a and
26 CHAPTER TWO

F-ness can be related only through the mediation of some third entity, then
the fact that a, F-ness, and exemplification are related presupposes the exist-
ence of some fourth entity; and this entity (call it exemplification2) can bring
it about that a, F-ness, and exemplification are related in the requisite way
only if it is related to those objects in a certain way. That, in turn, requires
the existence of exemplification3, which can do its job only in virtue of
exemplification4; and so on ad inifinitum. But obviously the regress here is
vicious; and that means that our original objects, a and F-ness, will never turn
out to be related in the way required, so that, given the assumptions built
into it, (I) cannot be employed in explaining why any arbitrary predicate-
term is truly predicable of any arbitrary object. 27
Now, initially one might want to agree that this third infinite regress is
vicious; but Nicholas Wolterstorffhas recently given reasons for thinking that
it is not. Focusing on the case of relational universals, he compares this in-
finite regress argument with Zeno's famous arguments for the impossibility
of motion. Wolterstorff says:

Zeno already noticed that the movement from one place to another can also be made
to look mysterious. Before one can go to B, one must go half the distance to B; but to
do this, one must first go half that distance; and so on. But of course there is no incom-
patibility here. One can consistently hold both that space is infinitely divisible and that
we sometimes move. One need not deny one or the other of these. So too John can love
Mary, even though in so doing, he stands in the relation of loving to Mary, and he and
Mary stand in the relation of R to loving, and he and Mary and loving stand in the rela-
tion of R' to R, and so on ad infi1litum. In short, I see no incompatibility between the
claim that things are related, and the principle that for every relation, if some entities are
to be in that relation, those entities must be in a certain relation. 28

Of course, some proponents of (I) may not find Wolterstorffs analogy con-
vincing; but if they do not, then they can respond to this third infinite regress
argument by denying that exemplification is a relation. While agreeing that
there is such a thing as exemplification serving to bind objects to universals,
the proponent of (I) can deny that an object's exemplifying a property by
possessing it, an object's exemplifying a kind by belonging to it, or an n-tuple
of objects' exemplifying a relation by entering into it is'a relational fact. It
turns out that most realists have taken just his line. Claiming that exemplifi-
cation does serve to link, connect, or bind, realists have insisted that the link
effected by exemplification differs from relational links in that the latter,
but not the former, are capable of linking objects only by the mediation of
some additional entity, Gustav Bergmann has marked this contrast by distin-
guishing between relations and what he calls nexus, exemplification being a
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 27

nexus on his account;29 likewise, P. F. Strawson has distinguished between


relations and ties, telling us that ties bind objects immediately.30 But however
the distinction is expressed, the aim of drawing it is the same. By denying
that exemplification is relational, the realist can deny that its efficacy as a
connector presupposes any further entities and thereby forestall this third
infinite regress.

V. THE REFERENCE OF PREDICATE-TERMS

There are doubtless other objections which could be raised against (I); but its
success in meeting the broad range of objections I have considered suggests
that (I) would withstand further criticism. (I), it is reasonable to conclude,
provides a coherent account of the applicability of predicate-terms. Let us,
then, examine (II). (II) tells us that the predicates of subject-predicate sen-
tences refer to the universals that underline their applicability; but just how
are we to understand this? According to Gustav Bergmann, we are to suppose
that predicates refer to universals in the sense that they name them. As we
have seen, Bergmann wants to restrict (II) to the case of primitive or unde-
fined predicates; and he tells us that ordinary color-predicates count as unde-
fined predicates. Thus, Bergmann tells us that where
(9) This is red
is a true subject-predicate sentence specifying the color of some object, say, a
spot, the sentence must be construed as incorporating two names. 'This', he
tells us, serves to name the particular spot in question; whereas, 'red' names
the universal it exhibits. The copula 'is', he tells us, is not a name; but with-
out naming, it expresses the fact that the particular in question exemplifies
the universal named by 'red'. 31
Now, in case of the predicate 'red', it is not implausible to suppose that we
have the name of a universal, but when we tum to sentences like
(10) This is triangular,
Bergmann's interpretation of (II) appears less satisfactory. The difficulty here
is that where an expression names an object, the expression can play the role
of logical subject and, in that role, serves to pick out the object it names. But
while 'red' might seem to conform to this general condition on naming (e.g.,
'Red is a color'), 'triangular' does not. 'Triangular' is not syntactically suited
to play the role of logical subject. The related term, 'triangularity' can, of
course, play that role; and when it does, it serves to pick out the universal, if
28 CHAPTER TWO

there is one, that is predicated in (I 0). 'Triangularity' is, however, a singular


term (a term true of at most one object) and, consequently, cannot be predi-
cated of the various objects that presumably exemplify the thing it names.
'Triangular' is a shape-predicate; and on Bergmann's account, elementary
shape-predicates are primitive predicates. Thus, his general claim that primi-
tive predicates refer to universals in the sense that they name them is false.
But what of 'red' as it functions in (9)? Well, I am inclined to think that even
here Bergmann's account fails. The difficulty once again can be traced to the
syntactic ambiguity of color-words. What makes it plausible to think that
'red' is the name of a universal is the fact that 'red' can appear indiscriminate-
ly in the predicate-position as in (9) and in the subject-position as in 'Red is a
color'. But actually it is not the same expression that appears predicatively in
(9) and functions as the subject of 'Red is a color'. In the first case, 'red' is a
general term, one predicable of any red object; whereas, in 'Red is a color', it
is functioning as a singular term, a name of the color in question. This am-
biguity comes into clear focus when we note that whereas 'red' in 'Red is a
color' can be replaced by the explicitly Singular term 'redness', the predicate
of (9) cannot. Thus, while the syntactical ambiguity of expressions like 'red'
might tempt us to think that at least some predicate-expressions serve as
names of universals, even here Bergmann's version of (II) fails.
One could, of course, employ the same form of argument to show that
what Bergmann calls defined predicates are not in their standard predicative
uses functioning as names of universals. Expressions like 'wise' and 'coura-
geous' are syntactically on a par with Bergmann's primitive predicates and so
are equally incapable of playing the role of logical subject. Now, as we have
seen, Bergmann claims that it is 'red' taken by itself that is the predicate-term
of (9); but most philosophers want to say that whereas 'this' is the subject-
term of (9), the expression 'is red' taken as a whole is its predicate. The
philosopher who cuts up subject-predicate sentences in this way is unlikely to
find the view that predicates name universals very tempting; but were he to
accept it, we could once again employ the line of argument we used against
Bergmann to show that his interpretation of the referential force of predicate-
terms is mistaken. Like 'red', 'is red' is incapable of functioning as a logical
subject and so cannot serve to name anything. The point here is, I think, a
general one. Regardless of how one cuts up subject-predicate sentences or
how one categorizes predicates, the view that predicates name universals is
unsatisfactory .
Now, one might take this fact to show that (II) is a philosophical deadend.
John Searle at any rate seems to. He holds that the paradigmatic devices for
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 29

referring to universals are abstract nouns like 'circularity' and 'wisdom', and
he contends that if predicates are devices for referring to universals, they
ought to be intersubstitutable salva veritate with the abstract nouns that
correspond with them. 32 My remarks about predicate-terms and names show
that predicate-terms cannot be substituted for abstract nouns when these are
functioning as subject-terms. Searle argues the converse, that abstract nouns
cannot be substituted for predicate-expressions. He considers only the view
that it is 'is circular', for example, that is the predicate-term of
(11) This is circular
and points out that the result of substituting 'circularity' for this expression
in (II) is not a true or false sentence, but rather the mere list
(12) This circularity. 33
Of course, we have a corresponding failure of substitutivity on the Bergmann-
ian analysis of (11) according to which it is 'circular' taken by itself that
functions as the predicate of (11). On the analysis, the substitution of 'cir-
cularity' for the term 'circular' yields
(13) This is circularity.
Now, unlike (12), (13) is a sentence with a truth value; but if we assume that
(11) is true, the substitution resulting in (13) does not preserve truth. (13) is
not a subject-predicate sentence; it is a sentence expressing identity; and if
the referent of 'this' is invariant over (11) and (13), then (11) is true only if
(13) is false. Since the universal circularity is pretty clearly not self-predicable,
(11) can be true only if the referent of 'this' as it appears there is something
other than circularity; whereas, (13) can be true only if the referent of 'this'
as it appears in that sentence is identical with the referent of 'circularity'.
Searle takes the failure of substitutivity here to be a serious difficulty for
the proponent of (II); and he tells us that the defender of that thesis can
respond to the difficulty in one of two ways, neither of which Searle finds
satisfactory. He can deny that the referent of a predicate-term can ever be the
referent of a singular term, or he can claim that "the sense of 'refer' ..... is
different for predicates from what it is for singular referring expressions.,,34 I
think that we can agree with Searle that the first strategy is unsatisfactory.
Frege is, of course, the foremost proponent of this strategy. He tells us that
there is a categorial difference between the things that can serve as the refer-
ents of predicate-terms and the things that can function as the referents of
Singular terms or names. He calls predicable entities concepts and nameable
30 CHAPTER TWO

entities objects. 3s As in well known, this sort of account of the referential


force of predicate-expressions leads to paradox when one tries to identify the
referent of any given predicate-term. Thus, while insisting that the referents
of predicates are concepts, Frege has to deny that
(I 4) The referent of 'is circular' is a concept
is true on the grounds that 'the referent of "is circular" , is a singular term
and so takes as its referent an object and not a concept.
Searle thinks that the second strategy is also unsatisfactory since it "leaves
the notion of referring in the case of predicates wholly unexplicated and
amounts in effect to a surrender of the thesis at issue.,,36 Is this right? If we
are to answer this question, we have to get clearer on what is involved in the
second strategy. Let us begin by asking why it is that predicate-terms and the
singular terms corresponding to them are not intersubstituable. Initially, the
difficulty appears to be merely syntactical; but the syntactical obstacles to
intersubstitutivity are, I think, only the tip of the iceberg. The root of the
difficulty is seman tical. Predicate-expressions are general terms and so, unlike
the abstract referring expression corresponding to them, must be construed
as entering into a referential tie with the various objects of which they can be
truly predicated. Contemporary philosophers usually label this relation by
saying that a predicate-term is true of or satisfied by the various objects of
which it can be truly predicated. But while conceding that predicates do enter
into a referential relation of this sort, proponents of (II) have sometimes con-
tended that the semantical features of predication are not exhausted by
identifying the objects to which predicates can be applied. Thus, in Meta-
physics r. 4, Aristotle tells us that we must distinguish between the thing a
predicate signifies and the things with respect to which it signifies. 37 It is
pretty clear that when he speaks of the things with respect to which a predi-
cate signifies, Aristotle is referring to the objects of which that predicate is
true; but as we have already seen, he takes predicates to signify universals.
Evidently, then, Aristotle wants to grant that predicates enter into a refer-
ential dation with the objects of which they can be truly predicated; but he
wants to deny that this precludes their being referentially tied to universals.
Nicholas Wolterstorff expresses a similar view when he tells us that while a
predicate-term like 'red' is true of red objects, it stands for the universal
redness;38 and although Strawson is unwilling to speak of predicates as true
of or referring to anything, he suggests an account like that of Aristotle and
Wolterstorff when he distinguishes between the objects of which a predicate-
term can be truly predicated and the entity which the use of that predicate-
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 31

term has the effect of introducing into discourse. The latter, he wants to say,
is a universal. 39
All three of these philosophers are, I think, proposing that we accept
something like the second strategy Searle points to. While endorsing (II), all
three want to claim that the referential force of predicates differs in impor-
tant ways from the referential force of the abstract referring devices corres-
ponding to them. For these philosophers, an abstract singular term like
'wisdom' enters into a single referential relation; 'wisdom' is referentially tied
to wisdom and nothing else; they want to claim, however, that the predicate-
term 'wise' /,is wise' must be construed as entering into two different kinds of
referential ties; one of these ties links the term with the various objects of
which it can be truly predicated - the various wise men; whereas, the other
links 'wise'/'is wise' with wisdom; and presumably all three would want to
claim that it is because of this difference in referential force that 'wise' /'is
wise' and 'wisdom' are not intersubstitutable.
Searle, however, claims that this sort of view leaves the referential force of
predicates unexplicated. The fact that these philosophers say as much as they
do suggests that perhaps Searle's charge of obscurity is a bit exaggerated; but
obviously Searle will deny that they have been satisfactorily cleared of the
charge unless we can give sense to the idea that predicates stand in some sort
of referential relation with universals. I am inclined to think that .we can.
Consider
(IS) Socrates is courageous
(15) is a subject-predicate sentence; but it can be paraphrased in a perfectly
natural way as
(16) Socrates possesses courage.
Ukewise, the subject-predicate sentence
(17) Socrates is a man
can be paraphrased as
(18) Socrates belongs to the kind man,
and
(19) Socrates is the teacher of Plato
can be paraphrased as
(20) Socrates bears the relation of being the teacher of with respect to
Plato.
32 CHAPTER TWO

In all three cases, ordinary subject-predicate sentences can, without loss


of content, be replaced by sentences in which the original predicate-term
gives way to an expression incorporating a singular term that, to all appear-
ances, is a device for referring to a universal. The possibility of these para-
phrases suggests that the use of the relevant predicate-terms does have the
effect, at least implicitly, of referring to, mentioning, or identifying univer-
sals. It is to the possibility of paraphrases such as these, I would suggest, that
philosophers like Aristotle, Wolterstorff, and Strawson are pointing when
they tell us that besides entering into a referential relation with the objects of
which they are truly predicable, predicates signify, stand for, or introduce
unive rsals. 40
It would seem, then, that the proponent of Searle's second strategy can
provide a perfectly intelligible rendering of his claim that predicates refer to
universals without naming them. The point is that where a predicate-expres-
sion is functioning predicatively, that expression can be replaced, without loss
of content, by another expression which incorporates what Searle takes to be
a paradigmllti:: device for referring to a universal. But we can make an even
stronger point. Paraphrases of the sort I have just indicated seem to be gen-
erally possible. Thus, where 'F' is a property-predicate, the subject- predicate
sentence 'a is F' is always capable of being paraphrased as 'a possesses F-ness';
where 'K' is a kind-predicate, the subject-predicate sentence 'a is a K' always
admits the paraphrase 'a belongs to K-kind'; and where 'R' is a relational
predicate, the subject-predicate sentence 'a is R with respect to b' can always
be paraphrased as 'a enters into the relation of being R with respect to b.'
That such paraphrases are generally possible suggests that the version of (II)
proposed by Aristotle, Wolterstorff, and Strawson is not just intelligible, but
eminently plausible.
As we have seen, the three of them employ different expressions to bring
out the referential tie they claim links predicates and universals. It would
be useful to have a single expression here. Sometimes, the view is expressed
by saying that predicates connote universals. As a piece of terminology, the
use of the term is harmless; but frequently the use of the term has become
tangled up with the sort of epistemological view about predicate-terms we con-
sidered earlier in the chapter, so that the universal connoted by a predicate-
term serves as a criterion by means of which a speaker is able to identify the
objects of which the term is true. To steer clear of this epistemological theme,
I shall say instead that for philosophers like Aristotle, Wolterstorff, and
Strawson, predicates express universals, where the force of 'express' is simply
to point to the possibility of supplanting predicate-terms by means of expres-
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 33

sion incorporating singular terms which, to all appearances, are devices for
referring to universals. 41

VI. THE TRUTH OF SUBJECT-PREDICATE DISCOURSE

Thus, the proponent of (II) can make the point that predicates are referential-
ly tied to universals by saying that while they are satisfied by or true of the
objects to which they apply, they also express universals. (II), then, is subject
to a plausible formulation, but since (I) appears to be a plausible account of
the applicability of predicate-terms, the conjunction of (I) and (II) seems to
provide a plausible account of predication. As we have seen, however, the
realist wants to make a stronger claim for his account. He claims that the
analysis of predication provided by (I) and (II) is the only adequate account
of subject-predicate discourse. He wants to insist that truth is grounded in a
correspondence between language and the world. Since he contends that the
relevant correspondence presupposes that the non-logical constitutents of
true sentences be referentially tied to objects out in the world, he claims that
we cannot explain how subject-predicate sentences can be true unless we take
predicate-expressions to be referring devices; and he contends that the only
possible referents for predicate-expressions are universals. Some might object
to this talk of correspondence; but since I am inclined to think that at least
the truth of empirical discourse has to be anchored in non-lingUistic fact, I
shall assume that the realist is right here. Furthermore, I shall assume that he
is right in thinking that the correspondence that grounds truth presupposes
that the non-logical elements of language be referentially tied to objects out
in the world. What I want to ask is whether the realist is right in his conten-
tion that his interpretation of the referential force of predicate-expressions is
the only possible way of explaining how subject-predicate truth is grounded
in non-linguistic fact. To answer this question, we have to examine alternative
accounts of predication. Let us begin by considering the account proposed by
the nominalist.
The nominalist, as we have seen, wants to interpret agreement in attribute
in terms of Similarity of individual attributes. But, then, we can expect him
to explain the truth of subject-predicate discourse by an appeal to the notion
of an individual attribute. In fact, this is what the nominalist typically does.
Ockham and D. C. Williams are good examples here. As we have seen, Ock-
ham wants to construe only a limited number of predicates in nominalistic
terms; those predicates, he tells us, are true of (or as he puts it, are capable
of suppositing personally for) all and only the objects of which they are truly
34 CHAPTER TWO

predicable; but he also wants to claim that they consignify individual attri-
butes. Indeed, he claims that a qualitative predicate, 'F', just means 'object
possessing an F-ness'. Thus, on Ockham's account 'wise' is analyzed as 'object
possessing a wisdom' and 'courageous' as 'object possessing a courage'. Invoking
this analysis of qualitative predicate-terms, Ockham tells us that where 'F' is
a qualitative predicate, what grounds the truth of a subject-predicate sentence
of the form 'a is F' is simply that the referent (what Ockham calls the sup-
positum) of 'a' possesses one of the qualitative attributes consignified by 'F',
so that if 'Plato is courageous' is true, it is true because Plato possesses a
courage and if 'Socrates is wise' is true, it is true because Socrates possesses a
wisdom. 42 Although D. C. Williams, a more recent proponent of a nominalist
theory of predication, does not speak of predicates consignifying attributes,
he seems to think that individual attributes are correlated with predicate-
terms. Thus, all the rednesses that there are are correlated with the term 'red'
and all the courages that there are are correlated with the expression 'coura-
geous.' According to Williams, the effect of predicating a predicate-expression
of an ordinary object is to assert that the object is characterized by one of the
individual attributes correlated with that predicate-term. 43 But, then, despite
the difference in formulation, Williams' account of subject-predicate sentences
is of a piece with Ockham's account of predications within the Aristotelian
category of quality; for on Williams' account what makes the sentence 'Plato
is courageous' true is the fact that Plato is characterized by a courage and
what makes 'Socrates is wise' true is the fact that Socrates is characterized by
a wisdom.
The subject-predicate sentences we have used as examples in outlining the
accounts of predication presented by Ockham and Williams are all subject-
predicate sentences whose subject-terms refer to ordinary concrete objects.
Now, it is important to note that on the accounts presented by both, such a
subject-predicate sentence can be true only if some other subject-predicate
sentence is true. Thus, both Ockham and Williams are committed to the idea
that 'Socrates is wise' for example, is true only if a sentence which tells us
that some individual attribute of Socrates (call it ex) is a wisdom is true. How
exactly is the nominalist to explain the truth of this sentence? One strategy
here is to insist that the account just presented is perfectly general, so that
the truth of 'ex is a wisdom' is grounded in the fact that ex, in turn, possesses
some individual attribute (presumably one of a higher level). It should be
clear that this strategy commits the nominalist to the idea that an infinity of
attributes underlies every ordinary true subject-predicate sentence; but it
should be clear that there is nothing vicious in these infinitely long hierarchies
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 3S

of individual attributes; for their infinity does nothing to threaten the nomi-
nalist's use of his theory of subject-predicate truth in any particular case.
While it is true that on his account every explanation of the truth of a subject-
predicate sentence introduces a new true subject-predicate sentence, the
nominalist's explanation of the truth of any particular subject-predicate sen-
tence does not require that he explain the truth of the new subject-predicate
sentence which that explanation brings upon the scene. 44
Nevertheless, the alleged theoretical Simplicity of nominalism is more than
a little compromised by these infinite hierarchies of attributes, so that the
nominalist is likely to eschew the strategy just suggested. A seemingly more
promising strategy here (one which both Ockham and Williams endorse) is to
insist that the account of subject-predicate truth we have been considering is
to be restricted to the case where subject-predicate sentences bear on ordinary
concrete objects. As regards the attributes underlying these predications, on
the other hand, the nominalist can claim that they are what they are not in
virtue of additional entities, but simply of and by themselves. On this ac-
count, then, while Socrates can be wise only if he possesses a wisdom, a's
being a wisdom is an ultimate fact, one involving no further entities.
This second strategy is not incoherent, but it implies an asymmetry among
subject-predicate sentences that is likely to leave us uneasy. It leads us to ask
why, if the truth of subject-predicate sentences like 'a is a wisdom' can be
accounted for without an appeal to further entities, a similar account cannot
be invoked at the outset for sentences like 'Socrates is wise'. It is, of course,
just such a move that is proposed by the extreme nominalist. He tells us that
the fact that Socrates is wise is ontologically basic; it presupposes the exist-
ence of Socrates and nothing else.
The central question, then, is whether the extreme nominalist is able to
mobilize this contention in providing an account of the truth of ordinary
subject-predicate sentences. Can he, to use Donagan's expression, explain how
subject-predicate sentences enable us to "state facts about the world"? The
extreme nominalist claims he can; and the account he presents here is dis-
armingly straightforward. He tells us that a subject-predicate sentence of the
form 'a is F' is true simply because the referent of 'a' is, in fact, F. 45 On his
account, then, if the sentence 'Socrates is wise' is true, it is true because
Socrates, the referent of 'Socrates', is wise; and likewise, if the sentence
'Plato is courageous' is true, it is true because Plato, the referent of 'Plato', is
courageous.
From a formal perspective, this account of subject-predicate truth is
unexceptionable: it provides an account of the truth of every true subject-
36 CHAPTER TWO

predicate sentence. Nonetheless, realists have criticized the account on the


grounds that it is trivial or platitudinous. 46 We ask why it is true, for example,
that Socrates is wise; and the answer we are given is "Because he is wise."
What the realist contends is that this is not to provide a genuine explanation;
it is merely to restate what has to be explained. But doesn't this criticism rest
on a misunderstanding of what the extreme nominalist is saying? He is saying
that a certain piece of language, the sentence 'Socrates is wise' , is true because
a certain non-linguistic object, Socrates, is wise; and to make this claim is not
to utter a mere platitude; it is to do just what the realist claims we have to do,
vis., to show how the truth of subject-predicate sentences "depends upon
how the world is.,,47 The realist might try to reformulate the charge of trivial-
ity here by pointing out that in identifying the non-linguistic ground of the
truth of the sentence 'Socrates is wise', the extreme nominalist uses the very
sentence whose truth he set out to explain; but I think that the extreme
nominalist would be right to ask what other sentence the realist would have
him use here. Is he supposed to say that 'Socrates is wise' is true because
Secretariat is a horse or because Jimmy Carter is president? Pretty clearly not;
if 'Socrates is wise' is true, it had better be because Socrates is wise; and we
can be sure that any theory of predication that suggests anything to the con-
trary is false.
I am inclined to think, then, that the extreme nominalist account succeeds
in showing how the truth of subject-predicate discourse is grounded in non-
linguistic fact. I am also inclined to think that his account shows how the
correspondence between subject-predicate language and non-linguistic fact
hinges on the referential force of the non-logical constituents of subject-
predicate sentences. The extreme nominalist agrees that it is in virtue of the
referential relations obtaining between 'Socrates' and 'wise', on the one hand,
and objects out in the world, on the other, that 'Socrates is wise' corresponds
with non-linguistic fact. He only wants to deny that, as regard predicate-
expressions, we have to appeal to any referential relation besides that of satis-
faction or being true of. Insisting that the referential force of predicates is
exhausted by this relation, he tells us that it is because 'Socrates' is a device
for referring to an object which satisfies the predicate 'wise' that 'Socrates is
wise' enables us to make a true claim about the world. 48
But while the notion of satisfaction or being true of provides the extreme
nominalist with the resources for showing how the correspondence between
subjectpredicate sentences and non-linguistic fact depends upon the refer-
ential force of predicate-terms, most recent extreme nominalists have gone
wrong in supposing that this concept provides the philosopher with all the
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 37

the technical machinery he needs for providing a general account of the


semantical properties of general terms. The fact is, however, that in some pre-
analytic sense predicates like 'wise' and 'courageous' "differ in meaning." As
things actually stand, the extreme nominalist can account for this "difference
in meaning" by pointing to the fact that there are objects which satisfy one
of these terms but not the other. But surely this is a merely contingent fact;
it could have turned out that all courageous individuals are wise and vice
versa; but even if it had, these terms would, nonetheless, have "differed in
meaning." In any event, it is notorious that there are terms (e.g., 'featherless
biped' and 'human being') which, while satisfied by all and only the same
things, "differ in meaning." The nominalist and realist claim that they can
explain this "difference in meaning;" they argue that it is because co-exten-
sional predicates express different attributes or attributes of different sorts
that they "differ in meaning." But while the extreme nominalist cannot in-
voke this sort of account, he could accomodate the intuition that satisfaction
by itself fails to capture the semantical features of predication were he willing
to supplement his talk of satisfaction with an appeal to modal concepts and
notions like analyticity. Unfortunately, most recent proponents of extreme
nominalism have also been extensionalists, and they have been unwilling to
invoke these concepts because they so notoriously resist any kind of exten-
sionalist analysis. Limiting themselves to the notion of satisfaction, they have
taken the difficulties presented by coextensional predicates to be curious
anomalies that ought not dissuade us from the otherwise successful use of an
extensional semantics. The result is a serious gap in their accounts of the
semantics of predication.
But while much of the literature defending extreme nominalism is pervad-
ed with an anti-intensionalist bias,' it is certainly not obvious that there is
anything in the doctrine itself that precludes an appeal to notions like those
of necessity, entailment, and analyticity. Indeed, it is difficult to see how the
mere denial that there are attributes commits one to the view that there is no
distinction at all between sentences that are necessarily true and those that
are only contingently true or to the view that one cannot distinguish between
sentences that are analytic and those that are synthetic. To my knowledge,
only one recent proponent of extreme nominalism has appreciated this fact.
For the past three decades, Wilfrid Sellars has insisted that we can accept
both the ontological framework of the extreme nominalist and an intensional-
ist semantics. Apropos of predicate-terms, Sellars claims that their semantical
features are not exhausted by pointing to the word-world relations which tie
them to non-linguistic objects. To provide a complete account of the seman-
38 CHAPTER TWO

tics of a predicate-term, we have to refer as well to the intralinguistic uni-


formities that tie the term to other expressions in the language. This involves
identifying the inferential patterns into which the i.erm enters, the way it
figures in lawlike sentences, and so on; and according to Sellars, it is impossi-
ble to capture these intralinguistic uniformities without invoking notions like
entailment, analyticity, and the like.49
Now, I do not want to go into the intricacies of Sellars' account here. I
mention his view only to point to the possibility of formulating an inten-
sionalist account of the semantics of predication that conforms to the rigors
of extreme nominalism. An account of this sort would not only meet the
requirement set down by the realist (that of showing the non-linguistic ground
of subject-predicate truth); it would also accommodate our pre-philosophical
intuitions that the semantical features of general terms are not exhausted by
the referential relation of satisfaction. Such an account would, I think, repre-
sent a genuine alternative to the realist's account of predication. But, then, it
would seem that the realist is wrong in supposing that it is only by an appeal
to (I) and (II) that we can provide an adequate theory of predication; and
what that means, I think, is that the phenomenon of predication does not by
itself commit us to a Platonistic ontology. It may be true that there are multi-
ply exemplifiable entities; but since the realist's account of predication is not
the only possible account, an examination of subject-predicate discourse by
itself will not establish this.
It is, of course, true that the paraphrases we noted in Section V hold.
Where 'F' is a property-predicate, sentences of the form 'a is F' can be
paraphrased as 'a possesses F-ness'; where 'K' is a kind-predicate, sentences
of the form 'a is a K' can be paraphrased as 'a belongs to K-kind'; and where
'R' is a relational predicate, sentences of the form 'a is R with respect to b'
can be paraphrased as 'a stands in the relation of being R with respect to b'.
Now, it might be thought that the availability of these paraphrases is suf-
ficient to show the realistic implications of subject-predicate discourse; but
it is not. Both the nominalist and extreme nominalist can grant that the
paraphrases are possible, but deny that they have the ontolOgical implications
the Platonist claims for them. Consider for example, the paraphrase that
converts

(15) Socrates is courageous

into

(16) Socrates possesses courage.


PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 39

What makes it appear that the truth of (16) commits us to the existence of
a universal is the fact that the sentence incorporates the abstract term 'cour-
age'. Now, we are familiar with other sentences into which the term enters,
e.g.,
(21) Courage is a virtue
and
(22) Courage is admired by Plato;
and since we are inclined to think that as it occurs in these sentences, 'cour-
age' is functioning as a device for referring to a universal, we suppose that it is
playing the same role in (16). The extreme nominalist, however, will insist
that 'courage' is only apparently a device for referring to a universal in (21)
and (22). He will typically claim that the term is really just a device for
abbreviating discourse about familiar concrete objects, all the courageous
individuals that there are and that sentences like (21) and (22) can be re-
placed, without loss of content, by sentences in which the abstract term
'courage' gives way to the non-problematic predicate-term 'courageous'; and
he will conclude that it is simply wrong to suppose that as it appears in (16),
'courage' is a genuinely referring Singular term. He will grant, then, that sen-
tences like (15) are synonymous with sentences like (16), but he will claim
that what this shows is not that the truth of sentences like (IS) commits us to
the existence of universals, but rather that sentences like (16) are really just
very elaborate ways of making claims about familiar concrete objects and
nothing else. Thus, if the realist is to show that the paraphrases in question do
justify his analysis of predication, what he must do is counter the attempts of
the extreme nominalist (as well as the nominalist) to "analyze away" the
reference to universals ingredient in sentences like (21) and (22); but to do
this, he must go beyond any argument we have met in our discussion of (I)
and (II). He must appeal to a different line of argument - an argument for
the existence of universals based on what I earlier called the phenomenon of
abstract reference. If he is successful in formulating that line of argument,
then the availability of the paraphrases which convert ordinary subject-
predicate sentences into sentences of the form 'a possesses F-ness', 'a belongs
to K-kind', and 'a stands in the relation of being R with respect to b' could be
exploited in vindicating the analysis of predication expressed in (I) and (II).
Thus, given the paraphrastic equivalence between sentences like (15) and
(16), (I) and (II) might turn out to provide the only acceptable account of
predication; but an examination of the phenomenon of predication by itself
40 CHAPTER TWO

will not show this. Taken in isolation, predication appears to have the on-
tological neutriality which the extreme nominalist claims for it. We must
conclude, then, that the long and impressive line of philosophers mentioned
earlier are wrong in thinking that the phenomenon of predication alone is
sufficient to establish our commitment to a realistic ontology.

NOTES
1 De Interpretation 3 (16b 10), translated by E. M. Edgehill, in Richard Mckeon, Basic
Works of Aristotle (New York: Random House), 1946, p. 41.
2 Ibid., 7 (17a 38-39), p. 43.
3 'Concept and Object' in Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege, translated by Peter
Geach and Max Black (Oxford: Blackwell), 1952, p. 43 and p. 51. Frege refuses, of
course, to call the referents of predicate-terms "objects". I discuss this issue in Section V
of this chapter.
4 Problems of Philosophy, p. 145. In this passage, Russell contrasts substantives with
proper names, so what he has in mind here are common nouns.
5 Two Types of Linguistic Philosophy,' The Metaphysics of Logical Positivism, p. 122.
6 See Chapter V of Strawson's Individuals (London: Methuen), 1959. Strawson refuses
to use the term 'refer' in conjunction with predicate-expressions; but this is, I think, only
a terminological point. His use of 'term-introduction' is generic, covering the word-world
ties involved in the use of both general terms and singular terms. The former, he tells us,
are used to predicate one thing of another; the latter, to refer. I discuss this issue in
Section V of this chapter.
7 I shall use the term 'predicate-expression' in such a way that any term that can func-
tion predicatively in a subject-predicate sentence is a predicate-expression; where a predi-
cate-expression is functioning predicatively in a subject-predicate sentence, S, I shall call
it the predicate-expression of S.
8 'Universals and Metaphysical Realism,' p. 130.
9 Ibid., p. 127.
10 Ibid., p. 130.
11 See, e.g., p. 122 of Bergmann's 'Two Types of Linguistic Philosophy' and pp. 128-
129 of Donagan's 'Universals and Metaphysical Realism.'
12 Bergmann disagrees here. He so uses the term 'existent' that only what he calls "sim-
ples" count as existents; and as he explains it, a simple is the referent of a primitive
descriptive term. It should be clear, however, that Bergmann's use of the term 'existent'
is deviant; for on his use of the term, we would have to deny that automobiles, trees, and
persons are existents on the grounds that they have parts.
13 Thus, even defenders of the so-called Causal Theory of kind-words could accept my
(I). If they are right, then although (I) is true, it might turn out that all of the speakers
of a language are completely ignorant of just whkh universal (or to use Putnam's term,
just which "essential nature") is shared by all and only the objects to which a predicate-
term having general currency in the language correctly applies. See, e.g., Putnam's papers
'Is Semantics Possible?' in Language, Belief, and Metaphysics, edited by Kiefer and
Munitz (New York: State University of New York Press), 1970, pp. 50-63 and 'Meaning
and Reference,' Journal of Philosophy, 1973, pp. 699-711. Both of these papers are
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 41

reprinted in Stephen Schwartz, Naming, Necessity, and Natural Kinds (Ithaca, New
York: Cornell University Press, 1977.
14 The Nature of Necessity (Oxford: Clarendon Press), 1974, pp. 225-227.
15 Ibid., pp. 2215-227.
16 'Notes on Existence and Necessity' in Leonard Linsky, Semantics and the Philosophy
of Language (Urbana: University of Illinois Press), 1963, pp. 77-78.
17 Philosophical Investigations, translated by G. E. M. Anscombe (London: MacMillan),
1953, p. 66.
18 'Universals and Family Resemblances,' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society,
1960-1961; reprinted in Loux, Universals and Particulars, p. 113.
19 Philosophical Investigations, p. 67.
20 'Universals,' Philosophical Quarterly, 1951. Reprinted in Lo'ux, Universals and Parti-
culars, pp. 44-58.
21 Ibid., p. 47.
22 'Universals and Metaphysical Realism,' pp. 147-149.
23 This ambiguity is brought out in Wilfrid Sellars' 'Naming and Saying' in his Science,
Perception, and Reality (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1963, pp. 242-246.
24 Parmenides, 131 E-132 B; pp. 926 in Hamilton and Cairns, Plato.
25 It turns out that my treatment of the so-called Third Man Argument invokes the two
assumptions that contemporary scholars have isolated as central to the argument. See,
e.g., G. E. L. Owen's 'The Platonism of Aristotle' in Studies in the Philosophy of Thought
and Action, edited by P. F. Strawson (London: Oxford University Press), 1968, pp.
147-174.
26 Strawson takes this line; but his reason is, I think, the wrong one; he takes the regress
here to be vicious. See Individuals, p. 178.
27 This third infinite regress argument is the one discussed by Donagan in 'Universals
and Metaphysical Realism,' pp. 136-139. The argument is essentially that found in
Gilbert Ryle's 'Plato's Parmenides (I),' Mind, 1939, pp. 137-138; it is a near relative of
Bradley's famous argument.
28 On Universals, p. 102.
29 See, e.g., 'Meaning' in Bergmann's Logic and Reality (Madison: University of Wiscon-
sin Press), 1964, pp. 87.-88.
30 See e.g., Individuals, p. 169.
31 See e.g., 'The Philosophy of Malebranche' in Bergmann's Meaning and Existence
(Madison: University of Wisconsin Press), 1959, pp. 190-191.
32 Speech Acts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 1969, p. 102.
33 Ibid., p. 103.
34 Ibid.
35 'Concept and Object,' p. 103.
36 Speech Acts, ibid.
37 Metaphysics r. 4 (1006a 12-17).
38 On Universals, p. 85.
39 See once again Chapter V of Individuals.
40 For a confumation of this diagnosis, see Physics A.3 (186 a 25-32), pp. 25-26 of
On Universals, and p. 173 of Individuals.
41 Schematically, we can say that a predicate-term, 'F' is true of or satisfied by all and
only F-objects and expresses the universal F-ness. Searle objects to this sort of account;
42 CHAPTER TWO

the objection seems to be that since the use of predicate-expressions is typically mas-
tered before the use of their abstract counterparts, sentences like (16), (18), and (20)
cannot serve as paraphrases of sentences like (15), (17), and (19). See pp. 119-121 of
Speech Acts. I fmd this a bad objection; one might as well argue that 'male sibling'
cannot serve as an analysis of 'brother' since the use of 'brother' is typically learned
before the use of 'sibling'.
42 See, e.g., Summa Logicae 11.11, p. 281 in Summa Logicae, edited by Boehner,
Gal, and Brown (St. Bonaventure, New York: Franciscan Institute Publications), 1974.
The student of Ockham will want to make two objections here. The fll'st is that I fail
to deal with the distinction between signijicatio and personal suppositio. This is cor-
rect, but the point to keep in mind here is that for Ockham, primary signijicatio (as
opposed to secondary signijicatio or consignijicatio) just is the capacity to have a cer-
tain kind of personal suppositio. Second, one might object that Ockham gives a general
account of truth-<:onditions for sentences of the form 'a is F' and that this account
makes no reference to individual attributes. Again, the objection is correct. Ockham
wants a generalized theory of truth-<:onditions for subject-predicate discourse; and
since he is an extreme nominalist with respect to predications outside the category
of quality, any reference to individual attributes in a general theory of truth-<:ondi-
tions would be out of the question; nonetheless, as the passage in Summa 11.11 indi-
cates, where 'F' is a predicate-term from the category of quality (not expressive of
figure or form), the sentence 'a is F' can be true only if a possesses some individual
F-ness.
43 See 'On the Elements of Being, I,' pp. 11-12.
44 For a different approach to these issues, see David Armstrong, 'Infinite Regress
Arguments and the Problem of Universals,' Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 1974,
pp. 191-201.
45 See, e.g., the account of predication suggested in Quine's 'On What There Is' in his
From a Logical Point of View (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press), 1953, esp.
pp. 10-13. See also the theory of subject-predicate truth outlined in Wilfred Sellars
'Naming and Saying,' Science, Perception, and Reality, pp. 225-246.
46 See Panayot Butchvarov's Resemblance and Identity (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana
University Press), 1966, Chapter One.
47 Donagan, 'Universals and Metaphysical Realism,' p. 153.
48 Quine, of course, uses the notion of satisfaction in identifying the word-world rela-
tions that tie predicates to the objects of which they are predicable. For a number of
reasons, Sellars refuses to construe the word-world relations in question as sernantical.
They are, he tells us, matter-of-factual or causal relations; nonetheless, on his account,
we have the consequence that it is in virtue of the relevant word-world relations that
subject-predicate sentences come out true. See, e.g., Sellars' 'Hochberg on Mapping,
Meaning, and Metaphysics,' Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol. II (Morris, Minnesota:
University of Minnesota at Morris), 1977, p. 222.
49 See, e.g., Chapters III and IV of Science and Metaphysics for an elaboration of
this theme. Pretty clearly, for a theory of predication that is at once nominalistic and
intensionalistic to succeed, it must be possible to provide analyses of notions like signi-
ficance and necessity/possibility that show the applicability of these concepts to pre-
suppose the existence of no entities (e.g., meanings or possible worlds) that would be re-
pugnant to an extreme nominalist. Obviously, I lack the space to discuss these issues here.
PREDICATION AND UNIVERSALS 43

Suffice it to say that Sellars thinks that meaning-talk can be analyzed as a theoretically
neutral form of classificatory discourse and that modal idioms can be analyzed meta-
linguistically in terms of the notion of linguistic rules and the linguistic commitments of
a language-using community.
CHAPTER THREE

RESEMBLANCE AND UNIVERSALS

I. THE ALLEGED NON-ELIMINABILITY OF RESEMBLANCE

Although the phenomenon of resemblance does not play the central role in
the history of realism enjoyed by the phenomenon of predication, distin-
guished realists have contended that the analysis of resemblance provides us
with the resources for constructing an argument for the existence of univer-
sals. In fact, we find a number of such arguments in the writings of realists.
In this chapter, I want to examine three of them. The first argument I shall
consider played an important role in the debate over universals in the early
part of this century; the locus classicus for this argument is Chapter IX of
Russell's Problems of Philosophy.
To get at the argument presented there, we have to recall that both nomi-
nalists and extreme nominalists want to understand the phenomenon of attri-
bute-agreement in terms of the idea of resembling particulars. This is explicit
in the nominalist's contention that ordinary objects agree in attribute if and
only if they "exemplify" distinct yet resembling attributes; but the extreme
nominalist too will agree that attribute-agreement is to be understood in
terms of similarity; for he will say that objects agree in attribute if and only
they resemble each other as men, as wise, as trees, and so on. In both cases,
then, the contention is that we can explain the phenomenon of attribute-
agreement by reference to resembling particulars rather than multiply exem-
plifiable entities.
Russell's argument is meant to establish the futility of these attempts at
understanding attribute-agreement. According to Russell, they succeed in
eliminating ordinary universals like whiteness and triangularity only by intro-
ducing a new universal - that of similarity or resemblance. The nominalist
and extreme nominalist will agree that there are many cases of attribute-
agreement; but, then, they must agree that "resemblance ... holds between
many pairs of particulars; and this," Russell tells us, "is the characteristic of
a universal." He concludes the argument by saying:
The relation of resemblance, therefore, must be a true universal. And having been forced
to admit this universal, we fmd that it is no longer worth while to invent difficult and im-
plausible theories to avoid the admission of such universals as whiteness and triangularity. 1

44
RESEMBLANCE AND UNIVERSALS 45

Now, as a refutation of extreme nominalism, this argument begs the ques-


tion. What Russell simply assumes is that resembling objects enter into a
relation of resemblance. The philosophor who is unwilling to countenance
attributes of any kind will take Russell's contention that resemblance is
multiply exemplifiable to be gratuitous. Initially, the argument might appear
to beg the question against the nominalist as well; for if he is willing to con-
strue relations as constituting a distinct category of attributes, the nominalist
will surely interpret them as one and all particular. Thus, he will simply deny
that the resemblance obtaining between the objects of one pair is numerically
identical with that obtaining between objects from another. In fact, Russell
anticipates this nominalistic rejoinder to his argument and tells us that

It will be useless to say that there is a different resemblance for each pair; for then we
shall have to say that the resemblances resemble each other and thus at last we shall be
forced to admit resemblance as a universal. 2

Presembly Russell sees an infinite regress implicit in the nominalist's con-


tention that resemblances are particular. Just how, though, is the regress
supposed to arise here? Well, suppose that the nominalist is confronted with a
case of agreement in attribute between two ordinary objects. If he gives ontic
status to relations, he will tell us that those objects agree in attribute in virtue
of exhibiting individual attributes that enter into a relation of resemblance.
But, of course, that pair of attributes will not be alone in being similar; other
attributes of ordinary objects will also form pairs of attributes that enter into
a relation of resemblance. Take anyone of those pairs. Since the chosen pair
will agree in attribute with our original pair of attributes, the nominalist will
be forced to postulate some further relation of resemblance - a higher order
resemblance (call it a resemblance2)' But obviously these two pairs of attri-
butes will agree with other pairs of pairs of attributes in incorporating pairs
of attributes exhibiting a second order resemblance. But if the nominalist
persists in interpreting resemblance as particular, he will be forced to intro-
duce another resemblance-relation of a still higher order - a resemblance3 to
ground this new case of attribute-agreement; and, generally, as long as he
holds fast to the contention that attribute-agreement involves individual or
particular attributes, he makes it impossible to reach a last resemblance-rela-
tion. On the contrary, he saddles himself with an ever-escalating hierarchy of
resemblance-relations. Russell tells us in Inquiry into Meaning and Truth that
this is "an endless regress of the vicious kind,,,3 one that can be stopped only
by admitting at some point that the resemblance-relation in question is multi-
ply exemplifiable.
46 CHAPTER THREE

Now, if we hold that there is an infinity of cases of attribute-agreement,


then it would seem that Russell is right in his contention that the nominalist
is committed to an infinite hierarchy of resemblance-relations. The question,
however, is whether Russell is right in supposing the infinity of resemblance-
relations to be vicious. Clearly, it would be vicious if the nominalist were pre-
cluded from providing an account of any particular case of attribute-agree-
ment without regressing back through the infinite hierarchies. But is it, in
fact, true that the nominalist's success in handling particular cases of attri-
bute-agreement presupposes any such regress? I think not. Given any instance
of attribute-agreement, the nominalist will point out that the objects or
n-tuples of objects in question exemplify resembling individual attributes. He
will concede that the pair of individual attributes introduced by his account
agrees with some other pair of individual attributes in consisting of attributes
exhibiting some specific form of resemblance-relation; but insisting that this
fact has no relevance at all for the original case of attribute-agreement, he will
deny that his !,-ccount of the original case of attribute-agreement presupposes
any account of this new case of attribute-agreement.
Russell's celebrated argument, then, does not seem to have much force
against the nominalist either. But perhaps we are misreading Russell. Perhaps
he was attempting to accomplish something different with his argument. At
any rate, Alan Donagan claims that this is SO.4 He tells us that Russell's argu-
ment is meant to show the non-eliminability of predicate-terms. In Inquiry
into Meaning and Truth, we meet with a remark that tends to confirm
Donagan's interpretation. After presenting essentially the argument we have
just outlined, Russell tells us that "the above argument only proves the neces-
sity of the word 'similar'."s Presumably we are to take Russell to be directing
his argument against the philosopher who, in trying to "define away" predi-
cate-terms, tells us that an object is F (where 'F' is any arbitrary predicate-
term) just in case it resembles some chosen standard or exemplar. On this
interpretation, Russell is pointing out that any such attempt at eliminating
the apparatus of predication is bound to fail since applying the schema just
outlined to eliminate a given predicate-term will always involve an appeal to
the relational predicate 'resembles'.
If this is, in fact, what Russell was arguing, then there can be little doubt
that he was successful; but it remains unclear that any interesting meta-
physical conclusions follow from the argument. It may be, as the quote from
Russell at the beginning of the last chapter suggests, that he is just assuming
that the apparatus of predication by itself commits us to a realistic ontology
and, therefore, believes that showing the indispensability of predicate-terms
RESEMBLANCE AND UNIVERSALS 47

shows the inescapability of our commitment to universals. If, however, the


argument of the previous chapter is correct, Russell is wrong here. Facts
about predication alone are insufficient to justify a realistic ontology, so that
even on Donagan's reading, Russell's argument fails to yield any significant
consequences for ontology.

II. THE ALLEGED INCOMPLETENESS OF RESEMBLANCE-CLAIMS

A rather different argument for realism focuses on the alleged incompleteness


of resemblance-claims. 6 As the argument is usually put, sentences of the form
'a resembles b' are always incomplete; they lack a definite or determinate
sense. If we are to complete their sense, we have to indicate the respect in
which the resembling objects are alike; but that, the realist insists, can be
accomplished only by pointing to some universal or set of universals which
the objects in question jointly exemplify.
Suppose I say that the cup on my desk resembles the book on my shelf.
According to the realist, what I say is incomplete. To complete the claim, I
must say how the two are alike; but the realist insists that I can succeed in
doing this only if I say something like the following: "They resemble each
other in color," "They resemble each other in texture," or "They resemble
each other in weight;" and in each case I make an explicit reference to some
object which the resembling objects jointly exemplify, so that what I say in
each case presupposes the existence of at least one multiply exemplifiable
entity.
Now, it is possible to isolate two distinct themes in this argument. The
first {I shall call it (i is the view that it is always necessary to supplement
sentences of the form 'a resembles b' with an account of how a and bare
alike. The second {I shall call it (ii is the view that we can specify how two
or more objects are alike only by pointing to some universal which they
jointly exemplify.
The first of these two claims is seldom defended in any detail; but where
(i) is defended, the defense usually turns on the contention that resemblance
is what we might call a transcendental relation. The idea here is that, given
any pair of distinct objects, those objects can always be said to resemble each
other; and the conclusion this is supposed to drive us to is the view that to
make the bald claim that one thing resembles another is not to make any
determinate statement. To convert the bald claim into a genuine assertion, we
have to indicate how the relevant objects are alike. 7
But surely the realist is wrong here. The alleged transcendentality of the
48 CHAPTER THREE

resemblance-relation does not entail the incompleteness of sentences of the


form 'a resembles b'. It entails this no more than the fact that being colored if
green is a transcendental property entails that sentences of the form 'a has
the property of being colored if green' are incomplete. Indeed, if the realist
is right and resemblance is, in the sense indicated, a transcendental relation,
then so far from being incomplete, sentences of the form 'a resembles b'
(where a and b are non-empty names of different objects) would always seem
to be both complete and true.
Now, the falsity of (i) might seem to have disastrous consequences for the
realist's argument; but, in fact, the realist does not need anything as strong as
(i). While agreeing that sentences of the form 'a resembles b' may not require
supplementation, the realist can insist that it is always possible to supplement
them with an indication of how the relevant objects resemble each other. He
can insist, that is, that a sentence of the form 'a resembles b' always entails
the truth of some sentence in which it is specified how the relevant objects, a
and b, are alike; but if it is impossible to specify this without referring to
some universal which the resembling objects exemplify, the realist would still
have the desired conclusion: the truth of resemblance-claims presupposes the
existence of universals.
But, then, the crucial question is whether (ii) is true, whether it is impos-
sible to specify how resembling objects are alike without referring to univer-
sals. The fact that we typically specify respect of resemblance by saying
things like "They are alike in shape," "They are alike in color," and "They
are alike in size" might be thought sufficient to establish the truth of (ii); but
it is not. First, because one needs an additional argument to show that the
apparent references to universals which are incorporated in these claims are
real; and, second, because we can specify respect of resemblance without
appealing to sentences incorporating abstract referring devices. We can specify
the way objects are alike merely by indicating how they are, what they are,
and how they are related to other things; and we can indicate these things
by using ordinary subject-predicate sentences like 'They are both red', 'They
are both human beings' and 'They are both teachers'. However, we have as
yet no reason for thinking that such sentences require an ontology any
more extravagant than that proposed by the extreme nominalist. But, then,
we have no reasons for thinking that (ii) is true. Even the ontology of the
extreme nominalist would seem to provide us with sufficient resources for
specifying respect of resemblance, so that like its predecessor, this second
argument fails to show that the phenomenon of resemblance commits us to a
realistic ontology.
RESEMBLANCE AND UNIVERSALS 49

III. THE GROUND OF RESEMBLANCE

One might think, however, that while the argument just examined may not
establish the existence of universals, it contains an important insight. The
insight is simply that objects cannot resemble each other unless they literally
have some one thing in common; and that would seem to be possible only if
there actually are multiply exemplifiable entities. This contention is surely at
work in the following interchange in Plato's Parmenides:
Parmenides: If a thing is like must it not be like something that is like it?
Socrates: It must.
Parmenides: And must not the thing which is like share with the thing that is like it in
one and the same thing?
Socrates: Yes.
Parmenides: And will not that in which the like things share, so as to be like, be just the
Form itself that you spoke of?
Socrates: Certainly. 8

The suggestion here is that objects can resemble each other only if they
"share" some Form, only if they jointly exemplify one and the same univer-
sal. A similar claim is made by Charles Baylis:

The denial by extreme nominalists that particulars have common characteristics leads
them to affirm that no two things can be precisely alike in any respect. This has the
prima facie absurd consequence that, for example, no two books can be precisely alike in
containing exactly 232 pages. 9

Baylis evidently agrees with Plato, then, in supposing that the phenomenon
of resemblance commits us to the existence of universals; for he tells us that
it is only if they jOintly exemplify one and the same characteristic that ob-
jects can be alike.
But why should anyone hold this? Well, presumably the source of this
contention is the view that if resemblance-claims are to be true, to state facts
about the world, there must be some objective ground for their truth; and
this, the realist wants to claim, is guaranteed only if we suppose that the ob-
jects truly asserted to resemble each other actually agree in some one thing,
exemplify some one entity. It is the capacity for truth, then, which resem-
blance claims enjoy that supposedly forces us to grant the existence of
universals.
Now, the insight at work here is reminiscent of the contention underlying
so CHAPTER THREE

the realist's interpretation of subject-predicate discourse. But while the real


ist's argument from predication is motivated by an insight much like that
underlying this third argument from resemblance, it is important to see that
the latter is not simply a special version of the argument from predication.
The two arguments differ with respect to the way in which the universals
whose existence they seek to establish are related to the sentences whose
truth is to be accounted for. The argument from predication takes sentences
of the form 'a is F' and argues to the existence of those universals which sup-
posedly underlie the applicability of the predicate-expressions out of which
such sentences are built; whereas this third argument from resemblance begins
with sentences of the form 'a resembles b' and argues to the existence not of
the universal which underlies the applicability of the relational predicate
'resembles' (i.e., resemblance), but to the existence of some other universal
such as wisdom, courage, or mankind. The realist could, then, quite consis-
tently hold that the argument from predication fails while insisting that this
third argument from resemblance successfully establishes the existence of
universals.
But while the arguments are different, the similarity in their underlying
motivation has the consequence that the dialectic to which they give rise is
much the same. To evaluate the realist's contention that only an ontology of
multiply exemplifiable entities provides us with sufficient resources for
grounding the truth of resemblance-claims, we must examine the accounts
which the nominalist and extreme nominalist provide here; and it turns out
that the general pattern which emerges from this examination exactly par-
allels that arising from our earlier discussion of the three competing accounts
of the truth-conditions for subject-predicate sentences.
The nominalist will insist that we approach the phenomenon of resem-
blance in terms of his notion of individual attributes. As D. C. Williams, for
example, tells us, where ordinary concrete objects resemble each other, they
are characterized by different yet resembling individual attributes. 1o It is
their being characterized by such attributes, he tells us, that grounds the truth
of the claim that the one ordinary object resembles the other. But, then, the
nominalist of Williams' persuasion is telling us that an ordinary resemblance-
claim can be true only if some further resemblance-claim, one asserting the
resemblance of certain attributes, is true. The question, then, is how he would
have us explain the truth of this second-level resemblance-claim. One possible
account here would involve a generalization of the account provided for
resemblance-claims about ordinary concrete objects. The nominalist taking
this line would insist that for any resembling objects, whether concrete or
RESEMBLANCE AND UNIVERSALS 51

abstract, the truth of the claim that they resemble each other is grounded in
the exemplification by those objects of resembling attributes. Now, if he
generalizes the original account in this way, the nominalist is committed to
the idea that there are infinitely long chains of attributes underlying the truth
of any ordinary resemblance-claim. It should be obvious by now that there
is nothing vicious in these infinities; but it should be equally obvious that
these infinitely long strings of attributes tell against the nominalist's conten-
tion that his account has the special virtue of theoretical simplicity.
But, of course, the nominalist need not generalize his account in this way.
On the contrary, he can insist that the account just provided be restricted to
the case where ordinary, concrete objects are said to resemble each other. In
fact, this seems to be the line that Williams takes. ll Conceding that the truth
of ordinary resemblance-claims is grounded in the exemplification of resem-
bling attributes, Williams denies that the truth of resemblance-claims about
attributes presupposes any additional entities. Attributes, he seems to hold,
resemble each other not in virtue of exemplifying further attributes but
simply in virtue of what they are - wisdoms, triangularities, or rednesses.
This strategy is not incoherent; it should be clear, however, that it implies
an asymmetry among resemblance-claims that plays directly into the hands of
the extreme nominalist; for the extreme nominalist will demand to know
why, if we need no additional entities to account for the supposed truth of
sentences like
(1) The wisdom of Socrates resembles the wisdom of Plato,
we need special entities to ground the truth of sentences like
(2) Socrates resembles Plato;
and he will go on to argue that we can ground the truth of ordinary resem-
blance-claims simply by pointing to how ordinary objects are, what they are,
and how they are related to each other. He will grant that resembling objects
agree; they agree in being wise, red, triangular, human beings, dogs, or trees;
and he will concede as well that resembling n-tuples of objects agree in being
composed of objects that are teacher and student, father and son, mother
and daughter, and so on. The extreme nominalist, then, will insist that his
account meets the requirement set out by the realist - that of grounding the
truth of resemblance-claims in non-linguistic fact; and he will argue that since
his account is theoretically simpler than that of the nominalist or realist, it is
preferable.
In confronting the issue of predication, we found the extreme nominalst's
52 CHAPTER THREE

account adequate to the demands set by the realist; I am inclined to think


that here too we must concede that his account is adequate. We must con-
clude, then, that this third attempt to establish the existence of universals
on the basis of the phenomenon of resemblance fails. But, as in the case of
the argument from predication, we must not conclude that the account of
the realist here is incoherent, but only that it is not supported by the facts in
question. Furthermore, we must realize that there is an insight underlying
this argument which may later prove important; for although this third argu-
ment from resemblance may not establish the existence of universals, it surely
is true that a sentence like
(3) Socrates resembles Plato
entails a sentence like one of the following:
(4) Socrates and Plato both possess wisdom
(5) Socrates and Plato both possess courage
(6) Socrates and Plato both possess the property of being a philos-
opher
(7) Socrates and Plato both belong to the kind man.
The entailment here is reminiscent of the equivalences considered at the end
of Chapter Two; and what we. said about those equivalences applies here. By
itself, the fact that a sentence of the form 'a resembles b' entails some sen-
tence of the form 'a and b both possess F-ness, or 'a and b both belong to
K-kind' is not sufficient to show that the realist's interpretation of resem-
blance is correct; but if we could show that the truth of sentences like (4)-
(7) presupposes the existence of universals, then we would have shown that
the phenomenon of resemblance involves the notion of multiply exempli-
fiable entities. To show this, however, we have to go beyond the various
arguments from resemblance; we must appeal once again to what I have called
the phenomenon of abstract reference. Thus, while resemblance may involve
multiple exemplification, this third argument from resemblance taken in
isolation is insufficient to establish this.

NOTES

1 Problems of Ph ilosophy , p. 148.


2 Ibid.
3 Inquiry into Meaning and Truth (London: Unwin and Allen), 1940, p. 327.
4 'Universals and Metaphysical Realism,' p. 153.
RESEMBLANCE AND UNIVERSALS 53

5 Inquiry, p. 327.
6 Interestingly, this argument is not, in precisely this form, found in the writings of
realists. The argument can, however, be found in the writings of the opponents of real-
ism, where the argument is presented to be criticized. See, e.g., Price's Thinking and
Experience, pp. 19-23. See also Bambrough's 'Universals and Family Resemblances,'
p.123.
7 See, e.g., Pears' 'Universals,' p. 50.
s Parmenides, 132 D-E; p. 927 in Hamilton and Cairns, Plato.
9 'Universals, Communicable Knowledge, and Metaphysics,' Journal of Philosophy,
1951, p. 638.
10 'On the Elements of Being, I,' pp. 4-5.
11 Ibid.
CHAPTER FOUR

ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS

I. HIGHER LEVEL QUANTIFICATION

The upshot of the previous three chapters is that the realist cannot establish
the existence of universals merely by an appeal to the phenomena of predica-
tion and resemblance. Of the traditional approaches to universals, then, we
are left with that based on the phenomenon of abstract reference. If the realist
is to convince us that we should embrace the ontological framework he recom-
mends, he will have to base his case on the claim that the truth of sentences
which appear to involve devices for referring to universals actually presup-
poses the existence of those universals. Our discussion so far suggests that the
most plausible sentences to examine here are sentences like 'Triangularity is a
shape' and 'Red is a color' which incorporate what have been called abstract
singular terms; but before we confront the issue of the referential role of
abstract terms, we ought to consider an argument for the existence of univer-
sals which is found in the later writings of W. V. Quine.
Quine agrees that the phenomenon of abstract reference provides us with
grounds for concluding to the existence of what appear to be universals; but
he denies that the realist should focus his attention on sentences incorporat-
ing abstract terms. Quine wants to claim that the sentences that are to serve
as the basis for an argument for realism are those that involve the apparatus
of quantification. From his earliest writings, Quine has contended that the
apparatus of quantification is a referential framework which enables us to
determine the ontological presuppositions of what we say. This contention is
encapsulated in Quine's famous slogan "To be is to be the value of a bound
variable."} Towards filling out this slogan, Quine tells us that if we want to
determine the ontological commitments associated with the acceptance of a
certain body of discourse, e, we must translate the sentences, S} ... Sn, of
e into the language of quantification. Call the results of this translation
S' \ ... S'n. Next, we are to specify the truth-conditions for S'\ ... S'n. Ac-
cording to Quine, the acceptance of e commits us to the existence of an
object, x, if and only if there is a sentence, S'i, from S'\ ... S'n such that x
must be construed as !he value of variable bound by a quantifier in S'i if S'i
is to come out true.
54
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 55

Now, in his earlier writings, Quine thought it possible to reconstruct the


sentences making up our conceptual scheme in such a way that their trans-
lation into the language of quantification does not show them to involve
the quantification of variables whose values are abstract entities; or at least
he thought the attempt to work out such a reconstruction of our common
beliefs to be a project worthy of the philosopher's best efforts. By the time
he wrote Word and Object, however, Quine had given up this austere view,
arguing that mathematics commits us to the existence of classes. As Quine
puts it,

He (i.e., the philosopher who denies the existence of abstract entities) is going to have to
accommodate his natural sciences unaided by mathematics; for mathematics except for
some trivial portions of very elementary arithmetic is irredeemably committed to quanti-
fication over abstract objects. 2

Quine wants to claim, then, that when we translate the sentences of mathe-
matics into quantificational notation, we find that many of those sentences
involve the quantification of variables whose values are classes, so that unless
we are willing to admit the existence of classes, we are forced to deny the
truth of large bodies of mathematical discourse. But among the things that
are classes are objects (like the class of all men and the class of all oak trees)
which are "ones" to which many different things can belong. Such one-many
relations (or quaSi-relations) would appear to involve us in an ontology of
universals, so that Quine's argument would appear to establish the existence
of universals.
Now, Quine's criterion of ontological commitment bears on the use of
both the universal ('if _ ) and the so-called existential (3 _ ) quantifiers.
The quantifiers are, however, interdefinable; and since the 3-quantifier is
more blatant in its apparent ontolOgical force, I shall focus my attention on
its use. Effectively what Quine is arguing is that the use of the 3-quantifier
with respect to variables other than individual variables commits us to the
existence of entities over and above concrete particulars. Quine himself is
willing to endorse only higher-level quantifications like
(1) (3 a) (Socrates a).
but his thesis is that if we are willing to endorse quantifications like
(2) (3 F) (F-Socrates),
we are committed to the existence of things like properties; and if we are
willing to endorse quantifications like
56 CHAPTER FOUR

(3) (3 R) (R-Socrates, Plato),


we commit ourselves to the existence of things like relations.
Now, initially this might seem obviously right; for one might insist that the
3 -quantifier just means 'There exists an object _ _ such that ... .' Thus,
just as to affirm
(4) (3x) (Man-x)
is to assert the existence of at least one human being, to affirm (2) is to assert
the existence of at least one property exemplified by Socrates and to affirm
(3) is to assert the existence of at least one relation between Socrates and
Plato. The difficulty with this defense of Quine, however, is that there is
nothing in the logic of the quantifier that forces us to accept the informal
reading of (3 _ ) as 'There exists an object _ _ such that ... .' We could
just as well take the distinction between the 'It-quantifier and the 3-quantifier
to be captured by the ordinary language distinction between 'every' and
'some,.3 Now, when we take this distinction to be at work in the distinction
between the quantifiers, we are likely to read (4) as
(4a) Something is a man;
(2) as
(2a) Socrates is something (i.e., wise, courageous, married, etc.);
and (3) as
(3a) Socrates is something with respect to Plato (Le., his teacher, his
father, his brother, etc.)
Given these readings, it is less clear that affirming (2) and (3) involves the
assertion that certain abstract entities exist. On the 'some' reading, affirming
(2) is like writing
(5) Socrates is
and indicating that the blank can be fIlled in to yield a true sentence; it is,
however, a peculiar way of doing this since by employing (2) we are able to
accomplish this without ever leaving the object-language. By affirming (2) we
are able to say that the blank in (5) can be filled in to yield a true sentence
without ever talking about language at all.
Higher level quantifications like (l) might appear to remain problematic
for the defender of the 'some' reading of the 3 -quantifier; for on that reading,
(l) comes out as
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 57

(1 a) Socrates is a member of something,

which seems to commit its proponent to the existence of at least one abstract
entity, vis., some class to which Socrates belongs. But here one might claim
that the expressions which function as substituends for class variables, expres-
sions like '(x) (Man-x), (i.e., 'the class of all men') and '(x) (Oak tree-x), (i.e.,
'the class of all oak trees'), are only apparently singular referring devices. A
possible move here is to suggest that they are expressions contextually intro-
duced in terms of the following schema:

y e (x) (Fx) = df. Fy.

Invoking this account of class-"names", one could claim that a sentence like
(1) is really just equivalent to a sentence like (2) and, consequently, has the
same ontological neutrality that the 'some' reading attributes to (2).
If we are willing to accept this sort of account of sentences like (1), then
we seem forced to concede that our original willingness to accept Quine's
views about the ontic force of higher level quantification was too hasty. It
would seem that if we take an alternative informal reading of the 3-quantifier,
we can provide an acceptable reading of sentences like (1), (2), and (3) which
does not show them to involve assertions of existence. Quine, however, would
argue that the ontic force he finds in (1 )-(3) does not depend upon the infor-
mal reading we provide for sentences involving the 3-quantifier. What forces
us to take (I)-(3) as involving a commitment to abstract entities is the logi-
cian's account of the truth-conditions for formulae involving the 3-quanti-
fier. 4 What Quine has in mind here is the fact that the logician typically tells
us that an 3-quantification of the form (3 v) (..... v ..... ) is true if and
only if there is an object which satisfies the open sentence follOwing the
quantifier. On this account, (4) comes out true if and only if there is at least
one object that satisfies the open sentence (Man-x). Regardless of the infor-
mal reading we provide of (4), then, (4) would seem to come out true if and
only if there is at least one human being. But when we apply this account of
the truth-<:onditions of 3-quantifications to the case of(2) and (3), we seem
to get the conclusion that Quine wants - that endorsing such sentences com-
mits us to the existence of abstract entities; for regardless of how we read
these sentences, (2) comes out true if and only if some object satisfies the
open sentence (F-Socrates); and (3) comes out true if and only if some object
satisfies the open sentence (R-Socrates, Plato). The requisite objects, it would
seem, could only be abstract entities, so that to endorse (2) and (3) would,
after all, appear to involve a commitment to abstract entities; and if sentences
58 CHAPTER FOUR

like (2) and (3) commit their proponents to the existence of abstract entities,
talk about the contextual definition of classes becomes futile; for as we have
seen, the strategy of contextual definition does no more than reduce a sen-
tence like (l) to a sentence like (2).
The account of the truth-conditions for 3-quantification that we have
been discussing has been called the referential or objectual interpretation of
quantification; and although it provides the standard way of specifying truth-
conditions for quantified sentences, Quine himself points to an alternative
interpretation, what he and others have called the substitutional interpreta-
tion of quantification. s On this account, an 3-quantification of the form
(.3 II) (. .... II ...) comes out true if and only if there is a linguistic ex-
pression which, when substituted uniformly for the variable bound by the
3 -quantifier makes the open sentence following that quantifier come out
true. On this account, (4) comes out true because there is a linguistic expres-
sion - e.g., 'Richard M. Nixon' - which, when substituted for the 'x' in
(Man-x), yields a true sentence, e.g., 'Richard M. Nixon is a man'. Now, as
regards sentences like (4) the substitutional account provides us with an
account which, from the perspective of ontology, has roughly the same
consequences as the referential interpretation; for presumably 'Richard M.
Nixon is a man' comes out true only if 'Richard M. Nixon' names some exist-
ing human being; but when we turn to sentences like (2) and (3), we see how
this interpretation of quantification represents a radical departure from the
referential account of 3-quantification. On the substitutional interpretation,
(2) comes out true if and only if there is a linguistic expression which can be
substituted for the 'F' in (F-Socrates) to yield a true sentence; but the expres-
sion 'is wise' does the job here; and if we were right in our discussion of predi-
cation, the truth of a sentence like 'Socrates is wise' does not by itself commit
us to the existence of abstract entities. Thus, on the substitutional account, a
sentence like (2) does not have the ontological force that the referentialist
reads into it. Likewise, (3) comes out true on the substitutionalist's account
just in case there is a linguistic expression which, when substituted for 'R' in
(R-Socrates, Plato) converts (R-Socrates, Plato) into a true sentence; but 'is
the teacher of is such an expression; and its use does not by itself commit us
to the existence of an abstract entity, so that on the substitutionalist's ac-
count, endorSing (3) does not have the ontological consequences Quine attri-
butes to it; and, of course, if sentences like (2) and (3) lack the ontological
force Quine attributes to them, the strategy of taking classes to be contex-
tually defined becomes once again a live option for the philosopher who
wants to endorse sentences like (1) without embracing an ontology of classes.
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS S9

It would seem, then, that if a substitutional interpretation of the 3-quanti-


fier is acceptable, even the extreme nominalist i<: free to accept higher level
quantifications. Quine, however, denies that the substitutional interpretation
is adequate; he wants to insist that the account works only in the case where
we have a stock of linguistic expressions sufficient for forming true substitu-
tion-instances for 3-quantifications. 6 The fact is, however, that we do not
always have enough linguistic expressions for this purpose. Thus, it is doubt-
less true that there are stars that have not yet been discovered and so have
never been labelled; but, then,
(6) (3 x) (Star-x & has no label-x)
is true; but on the substitutionalist's account this sentence could be true only
on pain of paradox; for on his account, (6) is true only if it has a substitution-
instance; but it can have a substitution-instance only if the star in question
has a label. (6), however, tells us that it has none, so that on the substitu-
tionalist's account (6) is true only if it is false.
Substitutionalists have, of course, been sensitive to this difficulty. Wilfrid
Sellars, who appears to embrace the substitutional interpretation of quanti-
fication, is aware of the difficulty; but he argues that it can be handled once
we realize that our language is an evolving system moving towards an ideally
adequate language, a language in which there is a name for every object and
predicate-resources sufficient for specifying all the ways in which objects
are characterized and related to each other. According to Sellars, the truth-
conditions for quantified sentences are to be specified not with respect to
language as we now know it, but with respect to this ideally adequate lan-
guage. 7 Thus, the substitutionalist is to say that an 3-quantification is true if
and only if it has a true substitution-instance in the ideally adequate language.
Stated in this way, the substitutional account has no problems with sentences
like (6); for what (6) really amounts to is
(6a) (3 x) (Star-x & has no label in the language of 1978-x);
but since every object has a name in the ideally adequate language, that lan-
guage will have a non-paradoxical substitution-instance for (6a).
But while the appeal to the notion of an ideally adequate language will
enable us to handle sentences like (6), it is unclear that it provides us with
sufficient resources for handling all true 3-quantifications. Clearly, Sellars'
appeal to the notion of an ideally adequate language provides the substitu-
tionalist with an adequate touchstone for quantification only if it represents
the notion of an historically possible human language. But if it is to be an
60 CHAPTER FOUR

historically possible human language, the ideally adequate language Sellars


points to will have only a denumerably infmite vocabulary; that is, its vocabu-
lary will be no larger than the totality of natural numbers. However, as Quine
points out, the mathematician makes claims about all the real numbers and
they constitute a non-denumerable infinity. This means that, given any pos-
sible human language, there will be true 3 -quantifications that can have no
substitution instances in that language. Thus,
(7) (3 x) (Real number between 2 and 3-x & has no label-x)
is true; and it remains true no matter how we extend the resources of human
language; but clearly no substitutionalist can, on pain of paradox, provide a
substitution-instance of (7). What this shows, I take it, is that for us at least
there can be no such thing as an ideally adequate language of the sort Sellars
envisions, a language with names for every object and predicate-resources
sufficient to express all the ways objects can be characterized and related to
each other; no historically possible human language has sufficient resources
for providing substitution-instances for all true quantified sentences. 8
It would seem, then, that Quine is correct in his contention that only the
referential interpretation of q~antification is acceptable; but if we must adopt
the referential interpretation, we seem forced to take higher-level quantifica-
tions as involving the ontological commitments Quine points to. Assuming
that we take mathematics to represent a system of true sentences, this means
that we are forced to embrace an ontology of classes. Does this mean that we
are committed to an ontology of universals? Earlier I said that this would
seem to be the case. Now, however, I want to argue that it is not. Although
the adoption of an ontology of classes represents the adoption of an ontology
of abstract entities, entities over and above concrete material objects, persons,
and their physical parts, the classes of the mathematician differ in one impor-
tant respect from what have traditionally been called universals. The point
here is that the classes of the mathematician have what are called purely
extensional identity-conditions. We can tell whether a class, 0:, and a class, (3,
are the same or different merely by specifying their members; for as the
notion of a class is defined, a class, 0:, is identical with a class, (3, if and only if
all the members of 0: are members of (3 and vice versa. The attributes that have
been the focus of the traditional debate over universals do not, however, have
purely extensional identity-conditions. Attributes can be different even
though all the objects exemplifying one exemplify the other and vice versa.
The examples here are as familiar as the distinction I am pointing to. Thus,
every object that exemplifies the attribute being a featherless biped exempli-
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 61

fies the attribute being human and vice versa; nonetheless, these are different
attributes. Ukewise, every object exemplifying the property of triangularity
exemplifies the property of trilaterality and vice versa; yet we have two attri-
butes here and not one.
I am inclined to conclude, then, that Quine's account does not provide us
with an affirmative answer to the age-old question, "Do universals exist?"
Nonetheless, since the referential interpretation of quantification is correct,
sentences like (2) and (3) commit their proponents to the existence of attri-
butes. Quine, however, denies that (2) and (3) are true. While embracing
quantification over classes, he eschews quantification over attributes, whether
multiply exemplifiable or not. Given Quine's account, though, we need to be
convinced that sentences like (2) and (3) are true if we are to be convinced
that what have traditionally been called universals exist. But how could we
find out that such sentences are true? Well, it seems to me that the only way
the realist could convince Quine of their truth is by convincing him that the
truth of sentences like 'Socrates possesses wisdom' and 'Socrates and Plato
enter into the teach-student relation' presupposes the existence of universals.
Having been corwinced of that, Quine would be forced to grant the truth of
the quantified counterparts of these sentences. This suggests, however, that
Quine's criterion will not by itself enable us to determine whether or not
universals exist. To determine whether this is so, we must examine the phe-
nomenon of abstract reference as it is exhibited in sentences involving not
the apparatus of quantification but the use of what I earlier called abstract
singular terms. Let us, then, try to determine whether the apparently referring
uses of terms like 'triangulatiry' and 'wisdom' commit us to the existence of
universals.

II. ABSTRACT SINGULAR TERMS

Abstract singular terms are expressions like 'triangularity', 'mankind', 'red-


ness', and 'friendship' which (characteristically at least) are formed from
predicate-expressions (what are called concrete general terms) by the addition
of suffixes like '-ity', '-hood', '-ness', '-kind', and '-ship'. As we have seen,
what makes these expressions metaphysically interesting is the fact that they
appear to play referring roles. They seem, that is, to function as devices for
picking out or identifying objects; and what they appear to take as their
referents are abstract entities like triangularity, mankind, redness, and friend-
ship - universals.
The contexts in which abstract singular terms play their alleged referring
62 CHAPTER FOUR

roles are many and varied. They appear, as we have noted, in what might be
called exemplification contexts, contexts in which, to all appearances, we
pick out some object and say that it exemplifies or exhibits some universal.
Thus,
(8) Socrates possesses wisdom.
(9) The scalene exemplifies triangularity,
(10) The American Flag instantiates redness.

Abstract singulat terms also frequently function in what we can call inten-
tionality contexts, contexts in which we specify the objects of a person's
mental states or acts. When they function in such contexts, abstract singular
terms appear to serve as devices for identifying the abstract entity that a
person's mental act or state is of, for, or about. Examples of this use of
abstract singular terms are

(11) Alcibiades aspires to wisdom


(l2) Quine prefers redness to whiteness,
(l3) Mathematicians think about triangularity.

Abstract singular terms can also function in classificatory contexts; here, we


seem to be using abstract singular terms as tools for identifying a universal
that we want to go on and classify in some way. We say, for example, that

{l4) Wisdom is a virtue,


(lS) Redness is a color,

and

(l6) Triangularity is a shape.

At its most general level, the classificatory context engages the various ontol-
ogical categories. When abstract terms are coupled with category-words, we
appear to be picking out universals and subsuming them under their most
general kinds. Thus,

(1 7) Wisdom is a property,
(18) Redness is a property,
(19) Triangularity is a property,
(20) Animal is a kind,
(21) Paternity is a relation,
(22) Murder is an action. 9
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 63

Now, it should be clear that sentences like (8)-(22) can be used to make
true claims. What the realist contends is that the abstract singular terms ap-
pearing in those sentences are playing just the roles they appear to be playing
and that, consequently, the truth of sentences like (8)-(22) presupposes the
existence of universals. Effectively, then, the realist can be viewed as issuing a
challenge to the nominalist and the extreme nominalist, a challenge to provide
analyses of sentences like (8)-(22) according to which the truth of these
sentences does not presuppose the existence of universals. He is challenging
the opponents of realism to come up with an account of sentences like
(8)-(22) which shows the reference to universals involved in the use of these
sentences to be only apparent.
The realist, however, wants to lay down a condition which the accounts of
the nominalist and extreme nominalist must meet. We can call it the Condition
of Semantic Uniformity. In rough terms, this amounts to the claim that to be
acceptable an analysis of sentences incorporating abstract singular terms must
show any given abstract term to have one and the same role in the various
contexts I have pointed to. The rationale for this condition comes out when
we examine the ways in which the terms 'wisdom', 'triangularity', and 'red-
ness' function in the various sentences I have used as examples. Beginning
with 'wisdom', it should be clear that whatever role it is playing in (8), (11),
(14), and (17), that term is playing a single role in all four sentences. To see
this, we need only reflect on the fact that the conjunction of (8), (11), (14),
and (l7) entails
(23) A virtue Alcibiades aspires to is a property that Socrates possesses.
This entailment would not hold unless 'wisdom' were functioning as one and
the same linguistic expression (i.e., unless it were playing the same linguistic
role) in all four cases. The same point comes out in the case of 'triangularity'.
It has the same force in each of (9), (13), (16), and (19); for those sentences
taken together entail
(24) A property mathematicians think about is a shape that the scalene
exemplifies.
This entailment would not hold were 'triangularity' playing different roles in
the four cases. Finally, 'redness' is playing a single role, whatever that role
may be, in (10), (12), (15), and (18) since the conjunction of those sentences
entails
(25) A color Quine prefers to whiteness is a property instantiated by
the American flag;
64 CHAPTER FOUR

and this entailment presupposes that the force of 'redness' is invariant across
(10), (12), (15), and (18).
The challenge of the realist, then, is that the nominalist or extreme nomi-
nalist provide an analysis of sentences like (8)-(22) when shows the truth of
those sentences not to presuppose the existence of universals, but also shows
a given abstract term to have a single function or role in the different sen-
tences into which it enters. Nominalists and extreme nominalists have been
quick to take up this challenge. Indeed, although the issue of abstract singular
terms has been pivotal throughout the history of the controversy over univer-
sals, realists themselves have had little to say about the matter. They have
seldom even bothered to spell out the challenge I have just outlined. The
challenge, it would seem, is so obvious that it does not need to be formally
issued. The nominalist and extreme nominalist, on the other hand, have both
recognized the burden the challenge places upon them; for it is in their writ-
ings that we find detailed accounts of the linguistic role of abstract singular
terms. Evidently, then, the various parties to the dispute agree that the meta-
physical theories proposed by the opponents of realism cannot claim to be
adequate unless they incorporate an account of sentences like (8)-(22) which
shows the abstract singular terms embedded in these sentences to have a role
other than that they appear to have.
But while most philosophers who have wirtten on the problem ofuniver-
sals have taken the issue of abstract singular terms to be pivotal, there is one
dissenting voice here. Strangely enough, it comes from the mouth of a realist,
Nicholas Wolterstorff. Wolterstorff denies that an examination of the phe-
nomenon of abstract reference will provide us with the resources for resolving
the perennial debate between what I have called realists, nominalists, and
extreme nominalists. He claims that even if the nominalist or extreme nomi-
nalist were to come up with a satisfactory alternative to the realist's inter-
pretation of abstract reference, this would not have the effect of showing that
universals do not exist and, conversely, that if the realist were to succeed in
showing the inadequacy of all existing alternatives to his interpretation, this
would not serve as a definitive proof that realism is true. to I am inclined to
agree with Wolterstorff here. Suppose, for example, that we had compelling
independent reasons for thinking that universals exist (e.g., reasons based on
the nature of predication, resemblance, or higher order quantification) and
were to be confronted with some non-realistic account of abstract reference
equally as powerful as that provided by the realist. We would rightly con-
clude, I think, that the existence of that account is a curious but irrelevant
fact. And, if in the absence of independent grounds for endorsing realism, we
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 6S

were to show that no nominalist or extreme nominalist had succeeded in pro-


viding a satisfactory alternative to the realist's account of abstract reference,
we would be wrong to suppose that we have thereby proved the existence of
universals. The fact that there is no existing alternative to the realist's inter-
pretation of sentences incorporating abstract Singular terms hardly shows that
the realist's account here is correct; for it might just be that the correct ac-
count of those sentences has so far eluded us.
But while I think that Wolterstorff is right on these points, I am inclined
to think that he is wrong in concluding that the issue of abstract reference
is irrelevant to the debate over what I have called attribute-agreement. Al-
though the existence of an adequate non-realistic analysis of abstract refer-
ence fails to show that there are no such things as universals, the fact is that
we have as yet no independent reasons for thinking that there are. Should
we discover a satisfactory alternative to the realist's interpretation of the
phenomenon, we would have to conclude that the last of the phenomena
traditionally thOUght to dictate acceptance of a Platonistic ontology can be
handled in non-realistic terms; and given the principle of theoretical simpli-
city, we would have to conclude that either the nominalist or the extreme
nominalist has provided us with a theory of attribute-agreement preferable to
that proposed by the realist. If, on the other hand, we were to discover that
no nominalist or extreme nominalist has succeeded in formulating a satis-
factory alternative to the realist's account of abstract reference, then, while
agreeing that this fact does not conclusively establish the existence of univer-
sals, we would be right in concluding that realism represents the best existing
account of attribute-agreement, and so we would be justified in endorsing
realism. The point here is that while an examination of existing accounts of
abstract reference is unlikely to uncover anything like a transcendental argu-
ment for or against the existence of universals, it will, given the argument of
the preceding chapters, serve to indicate which theory of attribute-agreement
we are best advised to endorse. With these remarks as background, then, let us
examine the accounts of abstract reference proposed by the opponents of
realism; and let us begin by examining the more austere accounts outlined by
extreme nominalists.

III. EXTREME NOMINALISM AND ABSTRACT SINGULAR TERMS

Although most extreme nominalists have wanted to deny that abstract singu-
lar terms are genuinely singular referring expressions and to claim that they
are eliminable in favor of concrete general terms, some extreme nominalists
66 CHAPTER FOUR

have tried to accommodate the intuition that expressions like 'wisdom' and
'triangularity' are singular referring devices by identifying objects which,
while confirming to the rigors of an ontology that recognizes no attributes,
could legitimately be construed as referents of abstract singular terms. One
strategy here is to claim that an abstract singular term 'F-ness', functions
as the name of the set or class whose members are all and only those objects
that satisfy the concrete term, 'F'. On this view, 'redness' names the set
composed of all and only those objects that are red, 'mankind' names the
set whose members are all and only the individuals that are human beings,
and 'wisdom' names the set consisting of all and only the individuals that
are wise. Of course, if he is to avoid the conclusion that abstract terms are
constantly changing their referents, the proponent of this strategy must take
the 'are' here tenselessly, so that objects are, for example, red just in case
it is now true that they are red, it was true in the past that they are red, or
it will be true in the future that they are red. But even if he interprets the
notion of set-membership in this way, the extreme nominalist fails to provide
a satisfactory account of abstract singular reference. What is attractive about
this view is that it enables us to substitute objects with straightforward
identity-conditions for things that lack what Quine has called a "crystal clear
identity concept."ll But as we have already seen, it is just the feature of
sets or classes that makes this view attractive - their extensionality - which
is the downfall of this approach. Given the extensionality of sets, this view
forces us to say that two abstract terms name the same object just in case all
the objects satisfying the concrete term associated with one of these terms
satisfy the concrete term associated with the other and vice versa. Thus, since
all the objects that tenselessly are triangular tenselessly are trilateral and vice
versa, this account forces us to conclude that 'triangularity' and 'trilaterality'
name the same object; and since it is plausible to think that the future will
not deviate markedly from the past, it is plausible to suppose that all the
objects satisfying the concrete term 'human' satisfy the expression 'feather-
less biped' and vice versa, so that on this account we seem forced to say
that 'being human' and 'being a featherless biped' name the same object. We
know, however, that triangularity and trilaterality are different things and
that being human is something different from being a featherless biped, so
that we can conclude that the extreme nominalist's appeal to sets here is
unsatisfactory .
But if sets of concrete objects fail to provide us with satisfactory referents
for abstract singular terms, W. V. Quine points to objects that might appear
to do the trick. Quine says:
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 67

The regions to which 'red' applies are indeed not continuous with one another as those
are to which 'Cayester' (a river in Lydia) applies, but this is surely an irrelevant detail;
'red' surely is not opposed to 'Cayester', as abstract to concrete, merely because of dis-
continuity in geometrical shape. The territory of the United States including Alaska is
discontinuous, but it is none the less a single concrete object; and so is a bedroom suite
or a scattered deck of cards. Indeed every physical object that is not subatomic is, ac-
cording to physics, made up of spatially separated parts. So why not view 'red' quite on
a par with 'Cayester', as naming a single object extended in space and time? From this
point of view, to say that a certain shape is red is to affirm a simple spatiotemporal rela-
tion between two concrete objects; the one object, the drop, is a spatiotemporal part of
the other, red, just as a certain waterfall is a spatiotemporal part ofCayester. 12

The suggestion here is that the philosopher who wants to deny the existence
of attributes could take 'red' (Le., 'redness') to name a single concrete object
- the spatiotemporally discontinuous region of the world that is red. If we
generalize this account of 'red', we come up with the view that an abstract
term 'F-ness' is a Singular term naming that spatiotemporally discontinuous
region of the world that is F. Quine himself, however, presents this account
only to reject it; for while he concedes that the account provides a satisfac-
tory treatment of color-words, he is unwilling to extend it to cover all abstract
expressions. Part of the difficulty with this account is that it works only in
the case where the concrete term associated with an abstract term refers
cumulatively (Le., in such a way that the term applies to any sum of things
to which it applies). But, then, the account fails to handle terms like 'man-
kind' and 'triangularity' since clearly two individual men do not compose a
sector of the world that is itself a man; nor do two spatially discontinuous
triangular objects constitute some third thing that is triangular. But even if
the account could be extended to accommodate what Quine calls the phe-
nomenon of divided as opposed to cumulative reference, it fails to provide an
account of those abstract terms whose concrete counterparts cannot be con-
strued as applying to objects with spatial location. Thus, there is no spatio-
temporally discontinuous region of the world that is prime or composite, so
that the account fails to provide us with an account of the arithmetical terms
'being prime' and 'being composite'.
But, then, this approach (sometimes called the "exploded object" theory)
is no more satisfactory than the approach which identifies the referent of an
abstract singular term with a set of concrete objects. It is, of course, because
of the difficulties associated with theories like these two that most extreme
nominalists have claimed that abstract singular terms are only apparently sin-
gular referring devices. What they have claimed is that abstract Singular terms
are devices for abbreviating discourse about the various objects satisfying the
68 CHAPTER FOUR

concrete general terms out of which they are constructed. This strategy can be
traced back to the work of William of Ockham who seems to have thought
that in the case of many abstract terms, it is possible to replace sentences
incorporating those terms by sentences incorporating their concrete counter-
parts. Thus, on Ockham's account, sentences incorporating the abstract term
'triangularity' are synonymous with sentences in which this word does not
occur but the concrete form 'triangular' does; and sentences incorporating the
abstract term 'trilaterality' are synonymous with sentences in which this
expression does not occur but the concrete term 'trilateral' does. 13 Generaliz-
ing the account Ockham suggests in these cases, we have the view that abstract
singular terms are eliminable from discourse, that given any abstract term,
'F-ness', sentences incorporating 'F-ness' can be analyzed in terms of sentences
in which the term 'F-ness' does not occur but its concrete counterpart, 'F',
does.
Proponents of this account of abstract singular terms have not always been
clear on just how these analyses are to go; but in discussions of the issue, one
frequently meets with the claim that the use of an abstract singular term
signals the fact that what is being made is some necessarily true claim about
all the objects satisfying the corresponding concrete general term. The sugges-
tion, then, is that a sentential context of the form
(..... F-ness ..... )
can be paraphrased by a sentence of the form
Necessarily ( ..... every F-object .....).
Now, it should be clear that this suggestion does not tell us everything that
we must know if we are to paraphrase sentences incorporating abstract sin-
gular terms by means of sentences incorporating their concrete counterparts;
for since expressions syntactically suited for combination with an abstract
term will not, in general, be susceptible of combination salvo sensu with the
concrete counterparts of those terms, the application of the schema
(..... F-ness ..... ) -+ Necessarily (..... every F-object ..... )
will necessitate transformations over and above those explicitly indicated by
the schema. But if we allow those additional transformations to be dictated
by context, we can get a general idea of what this suggestion amounts to. It
would have us read (IS) as
(I Sa) Necessarily, every red object is colored
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 69

and (16) as
(16a) Necessarily, every triangular object is shaped.
But while it yields what appear to be satisfactory results for (15) and (16),
the schema in question is too strong to serve as a general recipe for paraphras-
ing sentences incorporating abstract Singular terms. Many true sentences of
the form ( ..... F-ness ..... ) fail to support necessarily true sentences about
all the relevant F-objects. Consider (12) and (14). The schema we are con-
sidering suggests the following readings for these sentences:
(12a) Necessarily, for every red object and every white object, Quine
prefers the red object to the white object,
(14a) Necessarily, every wise man is virtuous. 14
Now, it should be obvious that (12a) fails to provide a satisfactory paraphrase
of (12). For all I know (12) is true, but I do not need to know anything about
Quine's view on colors to know that (12a) is false. Quine is only a contingent
being, and his preference for red objects over white objects is likewise merely
a matter of contingency, so that
(12b) For every red object and every white object, Quine prefers the
red object to the white object
is not necessarily true. But not even (12b) taken by itself serves as an ade-
quate paraphrase of (12); for it is quite consistent with Quine's preference of
redness over whiteness that there be an occasional pair of red and white
objects such that, because of features those objects have over and above their
color, Quine prefers the white object to the red object. In the same way,
(14a) fails to capture the force of (14). (14) is true, but (14a) is false; for it is
possible that there be wise men who, since they lack other virutes essential to
a flourishing moral life, fail to count as virtuous; and as we reflect on the
various philosophers we have known - the so-called paragons of wisdom, we
are likely to conclude that even the non-modal
(14b) Every wise man is virtuous
is false.
What all of this suggests is that the extreme nominalist will have to settle
for the watered-down
(12c) Quine prefers red things to white things
and
(14c) Wise men are virtuous
70 CHAPTER FOUR

as readings of (l2) and (14). Now, (12c) and (l4c) may appear to be satis-
factory paraphrases of (12) and (14); but to be sure that they are, we need
some account of the force of the expressions 'red objects', 'white objects',
and 'wise men' as they figure in these sentences. We have already seen that
they cannot be understood as stand-ins for 'every red object', 'every white
object', and 'every wise man'; but perhaps the extreme nominalist will want
to claim that they have the force of 'most red things', 'most white things',
and 'most wise men'. Unfortunately, if this is what those expressions mean,
then (12c) and (14c) fail to provide us with satisfactory paraphrases of our
original (12) and (l4). Just as it is consistent with Quine's preference for the
color red over the color white that there be an occasional red and white
object such that Quine prefers the white object to the red object, it is pos-
sible that (l2) be true and that many, perhaps most, red objects have proper-
ties Quine abhors, so that on balance he prefers white objects to red objects.
Likewise, just as the truth of (14) is consistent with an occasional wise man
who fails to measure up to our standards of the virtuous man, it is possible
that only a few of the men who are wise succeed in measuring up to those
standards. And since both of these things are consistent with the truth of (12)
and (14), it is clear that the extreme nominalist cannot claim that the un-
quantified expressions 'red things', 'white things', and 'wise men' that appear
in (l2c) and (14c) are to be understood as 'every typical red thing', 'every
typical white thing', and 'every typical wise man'. If it is consistent with the
truth of (12) that Quine generally prefers white objects to red objects, then
it is also consistent with truth of (l2) that he prefer many, perhaps most,
typical white objects to typical red objects; and if it is consistent with the
truth of (14) that there be few truly virtuous wise men, then it is also consist-
ent with the truth of (14) that many, perhaps most, of your run-of-the-mill
wise men not be virtuous.
But it might be claimed that we are being unfair to the extreme nominalist
here; for he may want to claim that (l2c) and (l4c) are to be understood as
(l2d) Other things being equal, given any red object and any white
object, Quine prefers the red object to the white object
and
(14d) Other things being equ'!l, every man that is wise is virtuous.
Now, (l2d) and (l4d) may indeed be satisfactory paraphrases of (l2) and
(l4); but the question we have to ask is whether the extreme nominalist has
the right to invoke them. Pretty clearly, he does only if he can provide some
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 71

sort account of the force of the ceteris paribus clauses that occur in these
sentences. Now, for the realist and the nominalist, there is no problem here.
The realist, for example, can say that in (12d) the force of the ceteris paribus
clause is something like 'supposing a pair of objects to agree in all their
attributes other than color' and that in (14d) the clause is to be understood
to mean 'where they have all the other virtues'. But what can the extreme
nominalist say here? Since he refuses to recognize attributes, he has to
resort to talk about predicates and their satisfaction. He has to say that in
(12d) the ceteris paribus clause has the force of 'supposing a pair of objects
to satisfy all and only the same predicates except .. .' and that in (14d) it has
the force of 'where men satisfy all other virtue-predicates'. But in neither case
does he succeed in giving us satisfactory readings of these clauses; for since
there is no guarantee that there will be predicates corresponding to every
feature with respect to which red and white objects can agree, it could turn
out that while a pair of white and red objects agree with respect to all predi-
cates other than their color-predicates, they, nevertheless, differ in says that
might prove significant for Quine's preferences. Likewise, since there is no
guarantee that every dimension of the virtuous life is captured by the totality
of virtue-predicates, it could happen that someone satisfying all the virtue
predicates fails to count as virtuous.
We seem to have reached a deadend here; but a remark ofOckham's points
to a way of handling (12) and (14) that avoids all of the difficulties we have
been considering. IS Ockham suggests that the analysis of an abstract term
might involve an appeal to expressions like 'qua' and 'insofar as', what he and
other medieval logicians called reduplicative expressions. Thus, he tells us that
the abstract term 'humanity' is synonymous with the expression 'man qua
man' or 'man insofar as he is man'. Now, if the extreme nominalist were to
take the reduplication-operator to be implicit in (12) and (14), he would have
an adequate analysis of these sentences. Thus, (12) becomes

(12e) Quine prefers red things qua red to white things qua white,

which would seem to be a satisfactory reading of (12) inasmuch as it does not


commit us to the view that Quine invariably favors red objects over white
objects but, nevertheless, enables us to point out just what it is about red
objects that Quine prefers; and it does this without committing us to color-
attributes. Likewise, if the extreme nominalist takes a parallel reading of
'wisdom', he can tell us that (14) is to be read as

(14e) Wise men insofar as they are wise are virtuous,


72 CHAPTER FOUR

which appears to provide a satisfactory analysis of (14). It does not commit


us to the view that wise men are also temperate, just, prudent, and the like;
nonetheless, it does what we want it to - it exhibits the conceptual connec-
tion between the concepts of being wise and being virtuous.
But before we can accept this sort of account of sentences like (12) and
(14), we have to ask what happens when we apply the reduplicative strategy
in paraphrasing other sentences in which terms like 'redness' and 'wisdom'
appear, Unfortunately, what we find is that the strategy frequently generates
paraphrases that are more obscure than the Platonistic sentences they are
meant to replace. This is especially clear in the case where we have reduplica-
tion prior to the extreme nominalist's paraphrase. Thus,
(26) Wisdom qua virtue perfects a man
is true; but paraphrasing this sentence according to the strategy just suggested
yields
(26a) Wise men insofar as they are wise insofar as they are virtuous are
perfected,
which is something less than transparent. But even where the paraphrases lack
the obscurity of (26a), the suggestion that abstract singular terms are all
implicitly reduplicative forces us to read redundancy into many, if not most,
sentences incorporating abstract terms. Thus, (11) is presumably to be read as
(11 a) Alcibiades aspires to be wise qua wise;
and (8), as
(8a) Socrates is wise qua wise.
Now, it is not clear just how (11a) and (8a) are to be understood: but it is
clear that if they have any sense at all, they are synonymous with
(11 b) Alcibiades aspires to be wise
and
(12b) Socrates is wise
respectively. Likewise, the reduplicative strategy forces us to read (IS) as
(ISb) Red things qua red are colored;
but if (1Sb) has any clear sense at all, it is to be understood as synonymous
with
(ISc) Red things are colored.
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 73

But, then, in (11 a) and (8a) the reduplicative expression 'wise qua wise' is
replaceable without loss of content by the concrete term 'wise' taken by it-
self; and in (15c) 'red things qua red' is synonymous with the expression 'red
things'. The difficulty, however, is that as it occurs in (14c) 'wise men qua
wise' cannot be replaced by the non-reduplicative 'wise men' or 'wise'; and
'red things qua red' as it occurs in (12c) cannot be replaced by the non-redu-
plicative 'red things'. But, then, the extreme nominalist is forced to say that
'wisdom' as it occurs in (14) is a different term from 'wisdom' as it occurs in
(8) and (11) and that 'redness' as it occurs in (12) is a different expression
from the 'redness' which appears in (15). We have already seen, however, that
'wisdom' is one and the same term in (8), (11), and (14) and that 'redness' is
the same expression in (12) and (15). The entailments pointed to in the pre-
vious section indicate this; they would not hold were these abstract terms to
have varying forces over these different contexts. But, then, wliile the appeal
to reduplication may enable us to handle the use of abstract singular terms in
sentences like (12) and (14), it does so at the cost of violating the Condition
of Semantic Uniformity.

IV. NOMINALISM AND ABSTRACT SINGULAR TERMS

It is, of course, possible that the extreme nominalist will come up with a new
account here, but the difficulties we have run up against suggest that his
attempt to establish the eliminability of abstract singular terms is no more
promising than the views that identify the referents of abstract singular terms
with sets of concrete objects or with spatially discontinuous objects. Initially,
it would appear that the nominalist's prospects for providing a satisfactory
account of abstract Singular terms are more promising. He has all of the
resources available to the extreme nominalist; but in addition he can appeal
to the notion of an individual attribute. The availability of this concept has
led some nominalists to suggest that sets are, after all, the referents of abstract
singular terms. D. C. Williams explicitly tells us that an abstract singular term,
'F-ness', names the set composed of all and only the objects that tenselessly
are individual F-nesses; and G. F. Stout frequently suggests that he accepts
this interpretation as wel1. 16 On the Stout-Williams view, then, 'redness' names
the set of all rednesses; 'wisdom', the set of all wisdoms; and 'triangularity',
the set of all triangularities. This sort of account represents a definite advance
over the extreme nominalist's appeal to sets as referents of abstract terms. On
that account, whenever concrete general terms are coextensional (Le., satisfied
by all and only the same objects), the referents of their abstract counterparts
74 CHAPTER FOUR

turn out to be identical. Thus, 'triangularity' and 'trilaterality' name one and
the same object on the extreme nominalist's account. On the Stout-Williams
approach, however, these two terms have different referents; for, on their
account, 'triangularity' names the set composed of this triangularity, that
triangularity, and ... ; whereas, 'trilaterality' names the set composed of this
trilaterality, that trilaterality, ... ; and these are two different sets.
It might seem that there remains one case where the coextensionality
of non-synonymous concrete terms forces the proponent of the Stout-
Williams approach to identify the referents of their abstract counterparts. I
am thinking of the case where the concrete terms are "empty", i.e., are satis-
fied by nothing at all. Here, there simply are no individual attributes, so that
the referent of an abstract term would appear to be the empty set. The
difficulty, however, is that given the identity-conditions for sets there is
just one empty set, so that the abstract counterparts of all empty predicate-
terms would appear to name one and the same thing. But, then, 'being a
unicorn' and 'being a griffin' would name the same thing; and obviously they
do not.
I do not know how Stout would handle this criticism; but Williams antici-
pates it and responds by denying that there are any unexemplified attributes. 17
He denies, that is, that terms like 'being a unicorn' and 'being a griffin' name
anything at all and concludes that there can be no problem about the numeri-
cal identity of their referents. He is, as a consequence, committed to the view
that sentences incorporating referring uses of expression like 'being a unicorn'
and 'being a griffin' are all false; and I am inclined to think that this is not the
case. But I am also inclined to think that the realist need not assume that
there are unexemplified attributes in developing his case against this nomi-
nalistic interpretation of abstract reference; for as Nicholas Walterstorff has
shown, the realist can indicate the shortcomings of the view by pointing out
that it is an essential or necessary feature of a set that it have just the mem-
bers that it does. IS Given any set, it is impossible that it have members other
than those it does; its very identity as an object is tied to its membership.
But, then, the nominalist of the Stout-Williams persuasion is committed to
the view that it is an essential or necessary feature of triangularity, for exam-
ple, that it have as its members just those individual attributes it does. But
since on his view, objects are triangular in virtue of being characterized by a
triangularity, this entails that it is impossible that there be either more or
fewer triangular objects than there tenselessly are. The realist can demonstrate
the inadequacy of this account by pointing out that neither of these things
are impossible. Since there could have been more, as well as fewer, triangUlar
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 7S

objects than there actually are, we can be sure that abstract singular terms are
not names of sets of individual attributes.
But if the appeal to sets is unsatisfactory, perhaps the nominalist can take
a reductionist position and claim that terms like 'triangularity', 'wisdom', and
'redness' are only superfically singular terms. He can say that abstract terms
are merely devices for abbreviating discourse about individual attributes.
Ockham embraced this sort of account for abstract terms from the Aristotel-
ian category of quality.19 On his view, 'wisdom' is a device enabling us to
make claims about the various individual wisdoms and 'redness', a device for
making claims about individual rednesses. If we generalize Ockham's inter-
pretation of these abstract terms, we get the contention that any sentence
incorporating one or more abstract singular terms can be paraphrased by
means of a sentence in which no abstract singular terms appear but what we
might call abstract general terms do appear. We have already seen how the
requirement that sentences incorporating abstract singular terms are to be
paraphrased by means of sentences that are both necessary and universal runs
into difficulties. Let us, then, suppose that on the eliminationist approach
proposed by the nominalist, (14) is to be paraphrased as
(l4) Wisdoms are virtues;
(8) as
(8c) Socrates exemplifies a wisdom;
and (17) as
(17a) Wisdoms are properties.
These paraphrases are unexceptionable; and for many other sentences incor-
porating abstract singular terms, this strategy gives us just the results we want.
It runs into trouble, however, when we confront sentences like
(27) Man (Le., mankind) is a substance-kind.
The treatment provided in the case of (17) suggests that (27) be read as
(27a) Humanities are substance-kinds;
but obviously (27a) is unsatisfactory; for to be a kind just is to be a universal,
so that the claim expressed by (l7a) is effectively contradictory, vis., that
certain abstract particulars are universals. Perhaps, however, the nominalist
would want to claim that sentences involving abstract singular terms like 'man'
are to be paraphrased in terms of sentences mentioning individual substances.
76 CHAPTER FOUR

Given this strategy, then, (27) is implicitly a claim about individual men.
Which claim? Well, clearly not the claim that men are substance-kinds; but
perhaps
(27b) Men agree in substance-kind
is a more promising candidate. As it stands, however, (27b) is inadequate for
the nominalist's purposes since it is just a disguised way of saying that men
belong to one and the same kind; and the disguise is not even very good. What
the nominalist needs, then, is an analysis of the notion of kind-agreement
which is expressed in (l7b) that does not involve the notion of a multiply
exemplifiable entity.
It turns out, however, that providing such an analysis is no easy task.
Clearly, agreement in kind cannot be understood merely in terms of member-
ship in a common set; for apart from the obvious extensionality-difficulties,
there are sets whose members are things of radically different sorts or kinds.
Neither is kind-agreement simply a matter of similarity; for while similarity
may be a necessary condition of kind-agreement, it is certainly not a suffi-
cient condition. Nor will it do to bring these two notions together and explain
kind-agreement in terms of similarity-classes or Similarity-sets (where objects
constitute a similarity-set just in case, given any pair of objects in the set,
there is no object outside the set which more closely resembles one of the
chosen objects than they resemble each other); for as Goodman's discussion
of the problem of imperfect community shows, this approach fails to gen-
erate anything like intuitively plausible partitions among kinds. The difficulty
here is nicely spelled out by W. V. Quine:

... as Goodman showed in a criticism of Carnap, this construction succumbs to what


Goodman calls the difficulty of imperfect community. Thus, consider the set of all
round red things, red wooden things, and round wooden things. Each member of the set
resembles each other member somehow; at least in being round, or in being wooden, and
perhaps in two or all three of these respects or others. Conceivably, moreover, there is
no thing outside the set that resembles every member of the set to even the least of these
degrees. The set then meets the proposed definition of a kind. Yet surely it is not what
anyone means by a kind. It admits yellow croquet balls, red rubber balls, while excluding
yellow rubber balls. 20

A final and more plausible suggestion here is that the nominalist explain
kind-agreement in terms of the possession of individual properties. 21 He can
say that substances agree in kind if they possess certain substance-determining
properties. If he is to provide anything like a genuine analysis of kind-agree-
ment, however, the nominalist who wants to follow out this suggestion is
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 77

going to have to tell us more; for kind-agreement does not consist in the pos-
session of just any individual properties; the properties that underlie any
particular case of kind-agreement among substances (e.g., that consisting in all
men's being the same kind of thing) must be such that in virtue of possessing
them substances do, in fact, belong to a single kind; but pretty clearly a mini-
mal requirement here is that the attributes in question all be things of the
same kind, all agree in kind. But, then, the nominalist succeeds in "analyzing
away" one instance of kind-agreement only at the expense of introducing
another; and if the argument just presented is sound, to eliminate this second
case of kind-agreement, he must invoke a third case of kind-agreement; and
so on ad infinitum.
Now, earlier when we examined the phenomena of predication and resem-
blance, we found the nominalist confronted with what might seem to be
similar regresses. Those regresses, I argued, are not vicious. I want to claim,
however, that the present infmite regress is vicious. In the earlier cases, the
nominalist was attempting to provide an account according to which it is
pOSSible, given any true subject-predicate sentence or any true resemblance-
claim, to point to the non-linguistic ground of the truth involved. There was
no claim to be analyzing away, eliminating, or translating out either the
subject-predicate form of discourse or the concept of resemblance. Conse-
quently, the fact that each attempt to ground the truth of a subject-predicate
sentence or a resemblance-claim presents us with a new subject-predicate
sentence or a new resemblance-claim does not threaten the success of the
accounts in question. The nominalist can successfully do what he wants to
do, vis., specify the grounds of true subject-predicate sentences or true res em-
blance-claims. In the present case, however, the aim is explicitly reductionis-
tic; the goal is that of showing the in principle eliminability of all Platonistic
locutions; but since the attempt to explain away any given case of kind-agree-
ment forces us to confront yet another case of kind-agreement, the nominalist
can never complete the translations required if his reductionistic program is
to be successful. This infinite regress, then, is vicious; and, consequently, this
final strategy for eliminating the notion of kind-agreement fails.

V. THE META LINGUISTIC INTERPRETATION OF


ABSTRACT SINGULAR TERMS

My discussion so far tempts one to conclude that neither the nominalist nor
the extreme nominalist has the resources for accommodating the truth of
sentences incorporating abstract referring devices. Such a conclusion would,
78 CHAPTER FOUR

however, be premature since there remains a strategy for handling abstract


singular terms that is more powerful than any we have so far considered.
Towards introducing this account, we need merely reflect on the sentence
that proved the downfall of the nominalist's reductive analysis of abstract
singular terms, (27). An intuitively plausible way of understanding (27) in
non-realistic terms is to take it as an implicitly metalinguistic claim, a claim
about the linguistic expression 'man', vis., as the claim that
(27c) 'Man' is a substance-sortal (i.e., a common noun true of individual
substances).
This metalinguistic reading of (27) can be extended to handle even more
problematic sentences like
(28) Man is a species under the genus animal.
Interpreted along the lines of (27c), (28) becomes
(28a) 'Man' is a lowest level sortal term logically subordinated to the
sortal term 'animal'.
The plausibility of these readings of (27) and (28) suggests that we attempt
to extend this metalinguistic interpretation of abstract reference. Such a
strategy is suggested by some of Ockham's remarks about abstract reference;
but it is in Carnap's The Logical Syntax of Language that the strategy is fully
developed. 22 According to Carnap, sentences incorporating abstract singular
terms are pseudo-material mode sentences, i.e., sentences whose proper
reconstruction shows them to fall within the meta-language. The idea here is
that an abstract Singular term, F-ness, is really a device for referring to its
concrete counterpart, 'F', so that sentences of the form' ..... F-ness .... .'
are to be reconstructed as sentences of the form' ....."F" . ... .'. On Carnap's
approach, then, (14) is to be read as .
(14g) 'Wise' is a virtue-word;
(8) would turn out to be
(8d) 'Wise' is truly predicable of Socrates;
and (17) receives the following reading:
(I 7b) 'Wise' is a property-word (i.e., an adjective).
For our purposes, what is attractive about Carnap's strategy is that it pro-
vides us with an explanation of the failure of the various non-realistic accounts
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 79

of abstract reference we have so far considered. The proponent of the Carnap-


ian approach could contend that those accounts fail not because of the realis-
tic presuppositions of abstract reference, but because of the mistaken assump-
tion that sentences incprporating abstract Singular terms are vehicles for
making claims about nonlinguistic objects. He could maintain, that is, that
the failure of those accounts does not establish that abstract reference pre-
supposes the existence of universals, but only that sentences involving abstract
referring devices do not fall within the object language.
But despite its attractiveness on this score, the Carnapian metalinguistic
interpretation of abstract reference is subject to two criticisms. The first is
that the account merely replaces a non-linguistic universal with a linguistic
universal. The difficulty here is that on this account, sentences incorporating
abstract terms are to be construed as impliCitly involving a reference to a
linguistic expression; but linguistic expressions are themselves subject to a
distinction analogous to that between universals and particulars; for we dis-
tinguish between linguistic expressions construed as types and linguistic
expressions construed as tokens. The fact that the metalinguistic expressions
in (27c), (28a), (14g), (8d), and (17b) are all singular terms suggests that
these sentences involve a reference to linguistic expressions construed as
types; but, then, the move to these metalinguistic readings of our original
Platonistic sentences would seem to involve no real progress towards a genu-
inely non-realistic interpretation of abstract reference.
There is, however, an easy way for the proponent of the Carnapian ap-
proach to handle this first difficulty. He can take (27), (28), (14), (8), and
(17) to be disguised ways of talking about the relevant tokens - the individual
utterances and inscriptions that are 'man's, 'animal's, and 'wise's. Thus instead
of reading (8) as (8d), he could read it as the general claim
(8e) 'Wise's are virtue-words;
and similarly for the other cases. Eschewing linguistic types, he could take
these sentences to be implicitly general claims about linguistic expressions
construed as tokens.
The second difficulty with the Carnapian strategy is, however, more
serious. Interpreting (27), (28), (14), (8), and (17) as he does, the Carnapian
seems committed to the view that English sentences incorporating abstract sin-
gular terms are simply claims about individual tokens of the English language.
Presumably, then, he would have to take the French counterparts of such
sentences as ways of making claims about linguistic expressions from the
French language; but this yields the unsatisfactory consequence that when a
80 CHAPTER FOUR

Frenchman assertively utters the French translations of (27), (28), (14), (8),
and (17), he is talking about something quite different from what we are
talking about when we assertively utter their English counterparts.
This difficulty might lead some to abandon the metalinguistic approach
to abstract reference altogether; but a more sanguine response is to attempt
to preserve the insight underlying the Carnapian approach while accomodat-
ing the fact that abstract reference is not invariably language-bound. This,
at least, is the response we meet with in Wilfrid Sellars' treatment of abstract
reference. Sellars agrees with Carnap that the use of abstract singular terms
involves metalinguistic reference, but he denies that the metalinguistic force
of abstract terms is that captured by standard mention-quotation. Using
abstract singular terms, Sellars contends, we achieve a special kind of abstract
reference, one that cuts across language-barriers. 23 Central here is Sellars'
view that different languages can incorporate linguistic expressions that come
to much the same point. He wants to claim, for example, that the French
'homme', the Spanish 'hombre', the German 'Mensch', and the Italian 'uomo'
all agree in being subject to roughly the same set of linguistic rules, those
which govern the use of the English 'man'. All these terms function in much
the same way as responses to perceptual situations; they have roughly the
same force in inferential contexts; and they are used in much the same way
in action-guiding contexts. To capture the similarities here, Sellars suggests
that we adopt a special form of quotation - what he calls dot quotation. In
rough terms, we can say that the application of dot quotation to a term 'T',
has the effect of creating a metalinguistic common noun, T, which is true of
all those expressions (in the sense of tokens rather than types) which in their
own languages are subject to the same set of linguistic rules which govern the
use of 'T's in the quoting language. On Sellars' account, then, 'man' is a term
satisfied by all those expressions, regardless of their language, which are
subject to the same set of rwes governing the use of English 'man's.
Now, what Sellars wants to claim is that the use of abstract singular terms
has the effect of invoking the sort of metalinguistic reference involved in dot
quotation; and he wants to claim that by appealing to this special quoting
device, we can make perspicuous what is involved in the use of such sentences.
Thus, on Sellars' account, (27) is to be read as

(27d) 'Man's are common nouns;


(14), as

(14h) 'Wise's are virtue-words;


ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 81

(8), as
(8f) ,Wise's can be truly predicated of Socrates;
and (17), as
(17c) ,Wise's are adjectives.
It is difficult not to be impressed by this account. My own view is that
it is the most sophisticated alternative to the realistic interpretation of abstract
reference that has yet been presented; and the view becomes all the more im-
pressive when one notes that on Sellars' interpretation of the phenomenon of
language, one is not even committed to an ontology of individual attributes;
for Sellars wants to insist that talk about linguistic expressions can be recast
in terms of talk about persons as speaking, inscribing, and the like. I shall not,
however, concern myself with this claim; for even if Sellars is wrong in his
contention that his account is consistent with the rigors of extreme nominal-
ism, it should be clear that it represents a genuine alternative to the account
of the realist. What I want to ask is whether it provides a viable alternative.
Now, it seems to me that Sellars' account handles most of the sentences in
which abstract singular terms appear. The fact is, however, that those are not
the only sentences by means of which we make claims about the objects,
whatever they may turn out to be, that are the apparent referents of abstract
singular terms. To see this, let us focus on
(17) Wisdom is a property.
(17) is a category-assertion; but if we suppose what is likely true - that wis-
dom is the property most frequently ascribed to Socrates, then the category-
subsumption effected by (17) can also be effected by
(29) The attribute most frequently ascribed to Socrates is a property.
Now, (29), no less than (17), appears to involve a reference to an abstract
entity, a universal; and if Sellars is to provide a satisfactory alternative to the
realist's interpretation of abstract reference, he must come up with an account
of sentences like (29). What Sellars will claim is that (29) makes a claim about
certain linguistic expressions. It should be clear, however, that he cannot say
that (29) is about the linguistic expressions that are the attribute most
frequently ascribed to Socrates's; for while (29) is true,
(29a) 'The attribute most frequently ascribed to Socrates's are adjectives
is false inasmuch as the attribute most frequently ascribed to Socrates's are
noun-phrases and not adjectives.
82 CHAPTER FOUR

What Sellars will argue, of course, is that (29) is a claim about wises.
Towards making this clear, he might insist that the definite description that is
the grammatical subject of (29) is really just a stand-in for 'the general term
most frequently predicated of Socrates', so that (29) is to be read as
(29b) The general term most frequently ascribed to Socrates is an
adjective.
Unfortunately, (29b) fails as a translation of (29). To see this, we need only
reflect on the fact that (29b) and (29) do not have the same truth conditions.
(29b) can serve as an analysis of (29) only if the general term to which it
points turns out to be wise. But is it, in fact, true that wisdom can be the
attribute most frequently ascribed to Socrates only if wises are predicated
of him more frequently than general terms of any other functional sort? I
think not; for wises do not exhaust our resources for ascribing wisdom to
Socrates. We can ascribe wisdom to him by saying that he is wise; but we can
also do this by saying that he exemplifies the virtue to which A1cibiades
aspires abov~ all others, that he exemplifies the property Quine prefers to all
others, that he exemplifies the virtue mentioned on the third line of page 157
of Jowett's translation of the Republic, etc. But, then, it could turn out that
while no attribute is ascribed to Socrates as frequently as wisdom, some ex-
pression other than wise (say, a common noun like man) is predicated of
him more frequently than any other general term.
Sellars might, however, deny that any kind of metalinguistic interpretation
of sentences like (29) is required for the success of his project. He might
argue that the opponent of realism merely needs metalinguistic readings of
sentences which contain what the realist takes to be proper names of univer-
sals, abstract singular terms. Having given such readings for these sentences,
he could provide a schema which shows the truth of sentences which (like
(29)) use definite descriptions as devices for achieving abstract reference to be
parasitic on the truth of sentences where abstract reference is secured by the
use of abstract Singular terms. Such a schema would be required for every
sentential context where we appear to be talking about universals; but we get
the drift of the proposal if we focus on the kind of schema required to handle
(29). Here, the context to be handled is ' is a property'.
The schema might go as follows:
An object x is a property if and only if either
(a) ys are adjectives (where 'x' is an abstract singular term and 'y',
its concrete counterpart); or
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 83

(b) there is an object, Z, such that x is identical with Z and Z is a


property in the sense of (a).
The effect of this schema is to allow Sellars to accept the truth of sentences
like (29) without requiring that he provide an explicit paraphrase of those
sentences in terms of dot quotation. The schema tells us that the truth of
(29) is parastic on the truth of (I7); and since (I7) does have an explicit
paraphrase in terms of dot quotation, and since wisdom is, in fact, the pro-
perty most frequently ascribed to Socrates, we can be sure that (29), despite
the impossibility of paraphrase, commits us to the existence of nothing more
than (17).
But while the strategy may appear promising, it too has its problems. To
see them, we need to reflect on the fact that the disjunctive analysis of being
a property just outlined makes essential use of an identity-schema (x is identi-
cal with z). Now, it should be clear that Sellars' account is adequate only if
he can succeed in providing genuinely nominalistic analyses of the various
identity-sentences which are substitution-instances of this schema. The diffi-
culty, however, is that some of these identity-sentences give rise to problems
much like those our appeal to the disjunctive analysis of being a property was
meant to handle. To stick with the recalcitrant case we have been considering,
the attribute most frequently ascribed to Socrates turns out to be a property
only because
(30) The attribute most frequently ascribed to Socrates is identical
with wisdom
is true. But since it appears to incorporate a double reference to an abstract
entity, we need a Sellarsian reading of (30). The most plausible candidate
here is
(30a) The general term most frequently predicated of Socrates is 'wise';
but as we have already seen (30a) fails as a reading of (30) since it is possible
for (30) to be true and (30a) false. 21
Now it might be thought that what is required here is merely greater in-
genuity, that Sellars need only come up with a disjunctive analysis of the
concept of a property that does not invoke the relevant identity-schema; but
this is wrong. Even if Sellars were to hit upon such an analysis, he would still
have (30) to contend with. This is a true sentence, .and Sellars owes us a trans-
lation of it. As I see it, there is only one strategy open to Sellars here, and
that is to invoke his notion of material equivalence. 24 Very roughly, material
equivalence is a relation between dot-quoted terms, a relation which a dot-
84 CHAPTER FOUR

quoted term T bears to a dot quoted term 'T" just in case 'T's are coexten-
sional with T's. Thus, 'Socrates' is materially equivalent to the teacher of
Plato' and featherless biped', to man. Material equivalence, then, is a relation
that obtains between dot quoted expressions which are true of general terms
as well as those which are true of Singular terms. But if Sellars were to limit
himself to the case where we have material equivalence between dot quoted
terms satisfied exclusively by Singular terms and ifhe were to mark this more
specialized use of the notion by the symbol 'ME*', then he could read (30) as
(30b) 'The attribute most frequently ascribed to Socrates' ME*
wisdom.
But would even this very exotic reading of (30) do? I think not. The first diffi-
culty with (30b) bears on the term 'wisdom' that appears there. We need to
know how we are to understand this term. What Sellars tells us is that when
we apply dot quotation to an abstract singular term, the result must be recon-
structed in terms of double dot quotation. Thus, (30b) must be understood as
(30c) The attribute most frequently ascribed to Socrates. ME* "wise";
but, then, we have the result that the term 'wisdom' in (30) is a different
expression from the term 'wisdom' as it appears in (8), (14), and (17); and so
Sellars' appeal to the notion of material equivalence works only at the ex-
pense of violating the Condition of Semantic Uniformity.
But there is a second difficulty here. The notion of material equivalence is
simply too weak to serve as a reconstruction of our notion of identity. Ac-
cording to the proposal, we are to read sentences of the form 'x=y' as "x'
ME* 'Y"; but the fact is that a sentence of the latter form can be true even
where a sentence of the former form is false. Thus, 'Pegasus' is materially
equivalent to the winged horse of Bellaraphon'; but since 'Pegasus' is a fic-
tional expression,
(31) Pegausus is identical with the winged horse of Bellaraphon
is false; and even more paradoxically, since Pegasuss and 'Paul Bunyan's are
empty terms,
(32) 'Pegasus' ME* Paul Bunyan'
is true; but by no stretch of the Meinongian imagination is
(33) Pegasus is identical with Paul Bunyan
true.
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 8S

One might try to overcome these difficulties by supplementing the notion


of material equivalence with the stipulation that the materially equivalent
expressions be true of non-empty Singular terms; but while this manuever will
enable us to accommodate the fact that sentences like (32) and (33) differ in
truth-value, there are cases where expressions of the form x and "y", both of
which are true of non-empty singular terms, are materially equivalent, but the
corresponding sentence 'x=y' is false. Indeed, this happens precisely in those
contexts where we are concerned with the identity of attributes. Thus, it is
not just wisdom that is materially equivalent to the attribute most frequently
ascribed to Socrates; the terms being wise and chordate and being wise and
featherless are as well. But pretty clearly, the attribute most frequentlyascrib-
ed to Socrates is not the conjunctive property of being treacherous and chor-
date; nor is it the conjunctive property of being treacherous and featherless. 25
The difficulty, of course, is that material equivalence is an extensional
notion and, consequently, is too weak to serve as an explication of the con-
cept of identity as it applies to attributes. But quite apart from this difficulty,
the attempt to explain identity in terms of material equivalence fails; and it
fails for a simple reason: identity is prior to material equivalence. Where
materially equivalent terms are true of non-empty singular terms, we can
always justify a claim of material equivalence by pointing to the correspond-
ing identity-statement. Why is it that Socrates is materially equivalent to
the teacher of Plato, and why is it that wisdom is materially equivalent to
the attribute most frequently ascribed to Socrates? Simply because Socrates
was the teacher of Plato and wisdom is the attribute most frequently ascribed
to Socrates. Thus, the strategy at work in (30b), that of defining identity by
means of the metalinguistic expedient of material equivalence, is simply
wrongheaded; it puts the cart before the horse.
Now, I know of no other strategy Sellars might invoke in handling sen-
tences like (29) and (30), and so I am inclined to conclude that while Sellars'
metalinguistic interpretation may succeed in handling sentences in which the
only vehicle of abstract reference is an abstract Singular term, there is no
guarantee that the semantical and syntactical claims his account takes to be
implicit in talk about the so-called abstract entities can be read into sentences
in which abstract reference is secured through the use of definite descriptions.
But the difficulty here is not limited to the case of wisdom. Since it is possi-
ble, in the case of other abstract entities, to construct sentences of the same
form as (29), the difficulty which arises in its case is sufficiently general to
convince us that even Sellars' very sophisticated approach is inadequate to
handle the complexities of abstract reference.
86 CHAPTER FOUR

VI. CONCLUSION

In the past three sections, I have examined a large number of approaches to


the phenomenon of abstract reference. I have shown that each fails. One
might object, however, that while I have succeeded in showing that each of
these approaches fails as a general account of abstract reference, I have not
shown that these accounts cannot be combined in such a way as to provide an
eclectic treatment of abstract reference which is equally as powerful as the
realist's interpretation of that phenomenon. Now, one might suppose that I
would reject outright any such eclectic account on the grounds that it violates
what I have called the Condition of Semantic Uniformity; but this is wrong.
That condition only requires us to provide, for any given abstract term, a
uniform treatment of that expression across the various sentential contexts
in which it can appear; and even an account that is electic in the extreme
sense that it provides a unique treatment for each abstract singular term could
meet this requirement.
But while an approach incorporating insights from all the accounts I have
considered would not necessarily violate the Condition of Semantic Uniform-
ity, we need merely reflect on the difficulties confronting each of those ac-
counts to see that they do not provide us with the materials for constructing
an adequate eclectic theory of abstract reference. Two of the accounts I have
considered (the extreme nominalist's and the nominalist's treatment of ab-
stract terms as names of sets) are formally inadequate; and Quine's "exploded
object" approach has such a limited range of applicability that its contribu-
tion to an eclectic theory of abstract reference would be negligible. The
Carnapian version of the metalinguistic approach is unsatisfactory in that it
forces us to construe abstract reference as essentially language-bound. Sellars'
inter-linguistic version of the metalinguistic approach, on the other hand, fails
in that it cannot handle the case where the vehicle of abstract reference is a
definite description. That leaves us with just two approaches - the eliminative
or reductive accounts of the extreme nominalist and the nominalist; and while
the nominalist's account enables us to handle sentences (like (12) and (14))
which I showed to be problematic f':Jf the extreme nominalist's eliminative
program, the difficulties I indicated in the nominalist's analysis of kind-agree-
ment are sufficient to show that no combination of these two views will
provide us with an adequate theory of abstract reference; for if the nominalist
cannot analyze sentences expressing kind-agreement, the extreme nominalist
with his more modest ontological framework cannot either.
Now, the approaches I have examined exhaust (so far as I know) the
ABSTRACT REFERENCE AND UNIVERSALS 87

strategies that have been proposed as alternatives to the realist's interpretation


of abstract reference. Other strategies are, of course, possible here; but to be
justified in accepting the realist's account, we do not need to provide a tran-
scendental argument to the .effect that no non-realistic account of the phe-
nomenon of abstract reference is possible. As we have seen, the burden of
proof on this issue lies with the other side. Since neither the nominalist nor
the extreme nominalist has, in fact, answered the challenge of the realist, we
are justified in accepting his interpretation of sentences like those we have
been considering. Those sentences, it is plausible to conclude, involve genuine
references to universals. But, then, their truth presupposes the existence of
universals; and since many such sentences are true, we are, I think, justified
in concluding that universals exist.

NOTES

1 'On What There is,' From a Logical Point of View, p. 15.


2 Word and Object (Cambridge, Mass.: M.LT. Press), 1960, p. 269. I follow Quine here
is speaking of classes rather than sets; but nothing hangs on this usage. In ensuing sec-
tions, where I am nut concerned with Quine's view, I talk of sets rather than classes.
3 This reading of the 3-quantifier is taken by Wilfrid Sellars. See, e.g., 'Grammar and
Existence: A Preface to Ontology,' Science, Perception, and Reality, p. 243-261.
4 See, e.g., 'Existence and Quantification' in Quine's Ontological Relativity and Other
Essays (New York: Columbia University Press), 1969, pp. 91-113.
5 Ibid., pp. 104-113.
6 Ibid., p. 107.
7 See, e.g., 'Realism and the New Way of Words,' Philosophy and Phenomenological
Research, 1948, pp. 603-605.
8 In 'Realism and the New Way of Words,' Sellars calls this language the "language of
omniscience". This suggests (and Sellars has confumed the suggestion in discussion)
that this language does not represent an historically possible human language. I have two
difficulties with this suggestion. First, I fail to see how a language which is in principle
unavailable to us could serve as a touchstone for our evaluation of the truth or falsity of
our quantified sentences. Second, I find it inconsistent with Sellars' view that the theory
which in "the long run" will be accepted by the scientific community serves as the
criterion of truth and existence. That theory and its language are historical possibilities;
but since the "language of omniscience" is not, it is unclear how the "Peircian concep-
tual scheme" can be the criterion of truth and existence that Sellars claims it is.
9 I do not mean to suggest that this brief list exhausts the possible contexts where
abstract singular terms appear.
10 See On Universals, pp. 203-218 for an ellaboration of this theme.
11 'Speaking of Objects,' Ontological Relativity, p. 21.
12 'Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis,' From a Logical Point of View, p. 69.
88 CHAPTER FOUR

13 See, e.g., Summa Logicae, I. 6-8; pp. 58-68 in Loux, Ockham's Theory of Terms.
14 The difficulties I point to here are discussed in Arthur Pap's 'Nominalism, Empiric-
ism, and Universals, I,' Philosophical Quarterly, 1959, pp. 334-338 and in Chapter 9 of
Wolterstorffs On Universals. Pap agrees with me in seeing these difficulties as significant.
As I have already indicated, Wolterstorff does not. I suspect that the divergence of
opinion here is traceable to the fact that whereas Pap and I accept the principle of
theoretical simplicity as a methodological guide in ontology, Wolterstorff does not. See
once again his remarks about 'Ockham's Razor' on p. 127 of On Universals.
15 Summa Logicae I. 8; p. 65 in Loux, Ockham 's Theory of Terms.
16 See once again 'On the Elements of Being, I,' and Stout's 'On the Nature of Univer-
sals and Propositions', British Academy lecture, 1914, in J. N. Findlay's Studies in
Philosophy (Oxford), 1966, pp. 5-24. A more elaborate version of the account, which
identifies the referent of an abstract singular term with the class composed of the objects
satisfying its concrete counterpart as well as the various individual attributes those
objects exemplify, is found in Wolterstorffs 'Qualities,' Philosophical Quarterly, 1960;
reprinted in Loux, Universals and Particulars, pp. 87-105. See, especially pp. 95-99.
The reason for the hedge on Stout's view is that it is unclear whether he takes abstract
particulars to form extensional or intensional wholes. He indiscriminately calls the
wholes "classes" and "sorts or kinds".
17 See Williams' Principles of Empirical Realism (Springfield Illinois: Charles Thomas),
1966, p. 239.
18 On Universals, pp. 178-181.
19 See, e.g., Summa Logicae I. 55, pp. 178-180 in Loux, Ockham's Theory of Terms.
20 'Natural Kinds,' Ontological Relativity, pp. 120-121; for Goodman's original state-
ment of the difficulty, see The Structure of Appearance, 3rd edition (Dordrecht: Reidel),
1977, pp. 117-119.
21 This kind of view is suggested by D. C. Williams in 'On the Elements of Being, I,'
p.I0.
22 For Ockham's remarks here, see Summa Logicae, I. 72; p. 210 in Loux, Ockham's
Theory of Terms and Summa Logicae I. 18-25; pp. 88-104 in Loux, where Ockham
deals with the predicables; for Carnap's view, see The Logical Syntax of Language
(Patterson, New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams, and Co.), 1959, pp. 284-314.
23 See, e.g., 'Abstract Entities,' Review of Metaphysics, 1963; reprinted in Loux,
Universals and Particulars, pp. 156-205.
24 See Science and Metaphysics, pp. 84-87 for a discussion of this relation.
25 I am indebted to my colleogue, Richard Foley, for this point.
CHAPTER FIVE

TOWARDS A REALISTIC ONTOLOGY

I. THE EXISTENCE OF UNIVERSALS

The argument of the previous chapter is disarmingly straightforward. I began


the argument with the reflection that expressions like 'wisdom', 'triangularity'
and 'redness' occur in true sentences. As they occur in such sentences, I
argued, they appear to be functioning as singular terms referring to universals.
Then, I examined the various accounts of abstract reference provided by the
nominalist and extreme nominalist. Finding none of those accounts satisfac-
tory, I concluded that it is plausible to assume that abstract singular terms
play just the roles they appear to be playing. But if they are playing those
roles, then the truth of the sentences into which they enter presupposes the
existence of the objects they take as their referents. Since it is obvious that
abstract singular terms enter into many true sentences, I concluded that it is
plausible to assume that universals exist.
Prima facie, this argument shows the plausibility of affirming the existence
of universals of quite different kinds. Most of the examples of abstract singu-
lar terms I invoked in my argument were property-words. Since expressions
of this sort occur in true sentences (e.g., 'Wisdom is a virtue'), it is plausible
to suppose that there are universals of the sort philosophers have called pro-
perties, i.e., attributes which objects exemplify by possessing. The argument
would also apply to kinds; for as we have seen, abstract singular terms re-
ferring to kinds enter into true sentences (e.g., Man is a species under the
genus animal), so that the argument establishes the plausibility of recognizing
kinds - attributes which objects exemplify by belonging to. Finally, the argu-
ment would seem to establish the plausibility of recognizing relations; for
since sentences like 'Being the father of is a dyadic relation' are true, it is
plausible to think that the category of universals includes relations - attri-
butes which n-tuples of objects exemplify by entering into.
But, then, it would seem that the realist is right in his contention that the
phenomenon with which our discussion began in Chapter One - the phenom-
enon of attribute-agreement - is to be understood in realistic terms. Two or
more objects agree in attribute because they jointly exemplify a universal, a
property which they jointly possess or a kind to which they jointly belong;
89
90 CHAPTER FIVE

and n-typles of objects agree in attribute because they are composed of


elements which enter into one and the same relation. The phenomenon of
attribute-agreement, we can say, just is the phenomenon of multiple exempli-
fication; and while there may be other ways of expressing attribute-agreement
which do not bring out so explicitly its realistic presuppositions, the sentences
which most perspicuously represent the ontological structure of the phenom-
enon are sentences of precisely the sort the realist points to.
Now, in Chapter Two, I discussed the realist's interpretation of subject-
predicate discourse; I argued that his account was a possible interpretation
of subject-predicate language. What made his account so plausible was the
fact that ordinary subject-predicate sentences can be paraphrased by means of
sentences of the forms 'a possesses F-ness', 'a belongs to K-kind', and 'a enters
into the relation of being R with respect to b'. In that context, however, I
argued that these equivalences by themselves do not suffice to establish the
realist's interpretation of predication. What is needed, I said, are independent
reasons for thinking that the truth of sentences of the forms 'a possesses
F-ness', 'a belongs to K-kind', and 'a enters into the relation of being R with
respect to b' presupposes the existence of universals. But now we have such
independent reasons and, consequently, are justified in adopting a realistic
interpretation of predication. While agreeing that predicate-terms are satis-
fied by the objects of which they are truly predicable, we can go on with the
realist and speak of predicate-terms as expressing universals. But, then, we can
deny that subject-predicate sentences merely involve the application of gen-
eral terms to objects. We can say that in assertively uttering a subject-predi-
cate sentence, we are ascribing a universal to some identifiable object; and
this means that we can join realists in denying that only general terms can be
predicated. By predicating a general term, we can say, we are predicating a
universal of some object or group of objects. Thus, not only linguistic expres-
sions are predicable; there are predicable entities - properties, kinds and
relations.
In Chapter Three, I considered the phenomenon of resemblance. I argued
that a sentence of the form 'a resembles b' entails some sentence of the form
'a and b both possess F-ness' or some sentence of the form 'a and b both
belong to K-kind'; but I denied that this fact by itself is sufficient to estab-
lish the realist's interpretation of resemblance. Once again, I argued that
what is needed here are independent reasons for thinking that the truth of
sentences of the forms 'a and b both possess F-ness' and 'a and b both belong
to K-kind' presupposes the existence of universals. Since we now have such
reasons, we are justified in embracing a realistic account of resemblance.
TOWARDS A REALISTIC ONTOLOGY 91

Indeed, the phenomenon of resemblance involves us in a commitment to


universals in two different ways. First, sentences of the form 'a resembles b'
invoke the apparatus of predication; they incorporate the predicate-expres-
sion 'resembles', and this term expresses a universal - the relation of resem-
blance. Thus, if a pair of objects do, in fact, resemble each other, they enter
into the relation of resemblance and thereby exemplify at least one universal.
But, second, given the fact that a sentence of the form 'a resembles b' always
entails a sentence of the form 'a and b both possess F-ness' or a sentence of
the form 'a and b both belong to K-kind', a pair of objects can enter into the
relation of resemblance only if they jointly exemplify some other universal
as well.
While I am convinced that every sentence of the form 'a resembles b' en-
tails some sentence of one of these forms, I am not certain that the converse
is true, vis., that every sentence of the form 'a and b both possess F-ness' or
every sentence of the form 'a and b both belong to K-kind' entails the corres-
ponding sentence 'a resembles b'. If, however, this is true, then we can under-
stand why philosophers have been inclined to hold that resemblance is a
transcendental relation, one that holds between any pair of distinct objects
whatsoever; for there obviously are transcendental properties, properties
which are exemplified by every object that there is. The universals being
colored if green and being selfidentical are examples. But if it is true that
every sentence of the form 'a and b both exemplify F-ness' entails the corres-
ponding sentence 'a resembles b', then since there are universals exemplified
by every object, it follows that any pair of distinct objects will be composed
of elements that resemble each other.
Finally, in the first section of Chapter Four, I worried about quantified
sentences like (3F) (F-Socrates) and (3R) (R-Socrates, Plato). I asked whe-
ther any such sentences are true. In that context, I argued that we could not
know whether such sentences are true unless we first knew that the truth of
sentences like 'Socrates possesses wisdom' and 'Socrates and Plato enter into
the teacher-student relation' presupposes the existence of universals. We now
know that it is plausible to suppose that this is the case; consequently, we are
justified in thinking that sentences involving the quantification of variables
whose values are multiply exemplifiable entities are true. But, then, we can
conclude that Quine is wrong when he tells us that his criterion of ontological
commitment ("To be is to be the value of a bound variable") shows us to be
ontologically committed to no abstract entities other than classes. That criteri-
on shows us to be committed to the existence of classes or sets; but it shows us
to be committed to the existence of kinds, properties, and relations as well.
92 CHAPTER FIVE

II. UNIVERSALS AS NECESSAR Y BEINGS

So far I have given the impression that realists stand as a united front ready to
do battle with their common foes, the nominalists and extreme nominalists.
The fact is, however, that realists have argued amongst themselves. Perhaps
the central issue in such arguments has been the relationship between univer-
sals and the concrete objects that exemplify them. This issue was certainly
central in the philosophical relationship between Plato and Aristotle. In his
middle dialogues at least, Plato held that there is an asymmetry between
universals and particulars; he held that while concrete objects are what they
are and so exist only because they exemplify universals, the existence of
universals is independent of the existence of the various particulars that
happen to exhibit them. This view is metaphorically expressed in Plato's
picture of universals as entities that exist in a separate "world". 1 Aristotle,
on the other hand, seems to have denied that any such asymmetry exists;
for while conceding that the existence of concrete objects (what in the
Categories he calls "first substances") presupposes their exemplification of
universals, he tells us that the existence of universals is logically tied to the
existence of the concrete objects exemplifying them. Thus, in the Categories,
Aristotle says that "if these last (i.e., first substances) did not exist, it would
be impossible for anything else to exist.,,2 Just how this is to be understood
is not altogether clear in the Categories; but in other works, Aristotle seems
to imply that for a given universal, U, there is no time at which U fails to be
exemplified.
Controversy over this issue was also a dominant issue in medieval discus-
sions of universals, where defenders of the so-called ante rem ("before the
thing") theory of universals took the Platonic view, and defenders of the in re
("in the thing") theory sided with Aristotle. Even in our own day, realists
have argued both sides of the issue. Alan Donagan seems to be siding with
Plato when he argues that there is nothing incoherent in the notion of a uni-
versal that is never exemplified;3 whereas, Gustav Bergmann, who insists that
"every character is at least once exemplified,,,4 takes a mild form of the
Aristotelian view.
Which side is right here? Is the existence of universals independent of the
existence of objects which exemplify them, or is it a necessary truth that
every universal is exemplified? Towards answering this question, I want to
invoke the metaphysical framework of possible worlds ontology. Some will
doubtless object that this is to explain the obscure by the more obscure. I
disagree, but those who find talk about possible worlds objectionable can
TOWARDS A REALISTIC ONTOLOGY 93

construe my appeal to this framework as a merely heuristic device. Everything


I say using this framework could be said, albeit more prolixly, without it.
What exactly is a possible world? Alvin Plantinga explains the notion as
follows:

A possible world is a state of affairs of some kind - one which could have obtained if it
does not. Hubert Horatio Humphrey's having run a mile in four minutes, for example, is
a state of affairs that is clearly possible in the relevant sense; his having had a brother
who never had a sibling is not. Furthermore, a possible world must be what we may call
a fully determinate state of affairs. Humphrey's having run a four-minute mile is a pos-
sible state of affairs, as, perhaps, is Paul X. Zwier's being a good basketball player. Nei-
ther of these, however, is fully determinate in that either of them could have obtained
whether or not the other had. A fully determinate state of affairs, S, let us say, is one
such that for any state of affairs, S', either S includes S' (that is, could not have obtained
unless S' had also obtained) or S precludes S' (that is, could not have obtained if S' had
obtained). 5

A possible world, then, is a possible state of affairs that is fully determinate;


it is a maximally possible state of affairs. Now, obviously the actual world
(the fully determinate state of affairs that actually obtains) is a possible
world; but there are other possible worlds, and in those worlds there are
objects. Furthermore, the objects existing in any possible world possess pro-
perties in that world, belong to kinds in that world, and enter into relations
in that world. Consequently, propositions (where a proposition is that which
is expressed by a declarative sentence) are true or false in possible worlds.
Some (the so-called necessary truths) are true in every possible world; other
proposifions (those that are necessarily false or impossible) are false in every
possible world; whereas, still others (those that are possible, but not neces-
sary) are true in some worlds and false in others.
The question separating Platonists and Aristotelians is the question whe-
ther it is possible for universals to exist if no objects exemplify them. Against
the background of a possible worlds ontology, we can formulate this question
by asking whether for each universal, U, there is a possible world, W, such
that U exists in W but no objects exemplifying U exist in W. Now, for at least
some universals, the answer to this question is clearly no. I am thinking of
what I earlier called transcendental universals. Before confronting the frame-
work of possible worlds, I said that a universal is transcendental just in case
it is exemplified by every object that there is; but with the framework before
us, we can say that a universal is transcendental just in case it is exemplified
by every object in every possible world. Thus, being colored if green and being
selfidentifical are exemplified by every actual object; but, further, they are
94 CHAPTER FIVE

exemplified by every object in every possible world. But, then, for any possi-
ble world, W, if one of these universals exists in W, then there is at least one
object in W such that it exemplifies that universal in W - the universal in
question; and, of course, if there are any other objects in W, they too will
exemplify that universal in W.
Transcendental universals, then conform to the Aristotelian account. The
Aristotelian account also works for universals which, while not being tran-
scendental, are like transcendental universals in being necessarily self-exempli-
fied. Take, for example, the property of being a non-number or the property
of being non-human. They are properties such that they are self-exemplified
in every possible world in which they exist; consequently, there is no possible
world, W, such that either of these properties exists in Wand fails to be exem-
plified in W;.if either exists in a possible world, then there is at least one
object in that world which exemplifies the property - itself.
The Aristotelian account holds as well for some universals that are not self-
exemplified. Take, for example, the property of being prime. Being prime is
a property that is exemplified in every possible world in which it exists. To
see this, we need mereiy note that propositions like those expressed by
(1) Three is prime,
(2) Five is prime,
and
(3) Seven is prime,
are necessary truths. They are propositions true in every possible world. They
are, moreover, propositions to the effect that certain objects - the numbers
in question - exemplify the property of being prime. Consequently, their
truth presupposes the existence of the numbers in question. Put in the lan-
guage of possible worlds, there is no possible world in which these proposi-
tions are true and the numbers in question do not exist. But since they are
true in every possible world, the numbers in question exist in every possible
world. They are, we might say, necessary beings. The numbers, three, five,
and seven, then, exist in every possible world; and in every possible world,
they exemplify the property of being prime. Consequently, there is no world
in which the property of being prime exists unexemplified. And the argument
used to show that being prime conforms to the Aristotelian picture applies
in the case of many other universals. Indeed, we can say that every universal,
U, such that there is a necessarily true proposition to the effect that some
object exemplifies U conforms to the Aristotelian account. Thus, being a
TOWARDS A REALISTIC ONTOLOGY 95

color is a universal that cannot exist unexemplified; for the proposition ex-
pressed by
(4) Red is a color
is necessarily true; it is true in every possible world; but since its truth in a
possible world, W, presupposes that red exists in W, we can be certain that the
universal, being a color, is exemplified in every possible world. The same
holds for the universal, being a virtue; for since the proposition expressed by
(5) Courage is a virtue
is necessarily true, being a virtue is exemplified in every possible world; and
likewise, for many other universals.
There are, then, many universals that conform to the Aristotelian account;
nor would Platonists disagree here; but while conceding that many universals
cannot exist exist unexemplified, Platonists have insisted that some universals
fail to conform to the Aristotelian account. I think that they are right here.
To see this, we need only consider a universal like red. We know already that
red exists in every possible world. But is red exemplified in every possible
world? I think not. Clearly it is possible that there be no red objects; there
are, that is, possible worlds in which there are no objects that are colored red.
Aristotle would perhaps disagree; but I think that it is intuitively obvious that
he would be wrong in so disagreeing. Likewise, since the proposition express-
ed by
(6) Mankind is a substance-kind
is a necessary truth, mankind exists in every possible world; but clearly in
some possible worlds it fails to be exemplified; for the existence of individual
human beings is merely contingent; it is clearly possible that there be no
human beings at all.
We can generalize here. Every universal which is exemplified exclUSively by
beings whose existence is merely contingent (Le., beings that actually exist,
but whose non-existence is possible) fails to conform to the Aristotelian
account. To see this, we need merely reflect on the fact that every universal
is a necessary being; for given any universal, U, there is a necessarily true pro-
position to the effect that U is an attribute. Such a proposition is true in
every world, so that U must exist in every possible world; but where U is a
universal exemplified only by contingent beings, there are possible worlds in
which U exists, but no objects exemplifying U exist. But, then, while the
Aristotelian account holds for many universals, it fails as a general account of
96 CHAPTER FIVE

the relationship between universals and the objects exemplifying them. As


regards universals exemplified exclusively by contingent beings, the account
presented by Platonists is correct. The existence of such universals is not
logically tied to the existence of the objects which exemplify them; it is pos-
sible for them to exist unexemplified.
Now, earlier we asked whether there might be universals which, like being
a unicorn and being a griffin, are not exemplified in the actual world. At that
point, I was inclined to say that there are; but I did not press the point. The
present discussion should make it clear that there is nothing absurd in suppos-
ing that there are. After all, if some universals can exist in a world where
nothing exemplifies them, why should it not be that, for some universals, the
actual world is just such a world? I am inclined to think that for universals
like being a unicorn and being a griffin, this is indeed the case: they exist in
all worlds, but are exemplified only in some worlds; our world, it turns out,
is just not one of these. 6 Nor, I think, are these two universals alone in this
respect; there are many universals, I am inclined to think, that agree with
these universals in being exemplifiable but unexemplified in the actual world.
Obviously, most or these universals have no names in our language; but they
exist in the actual world nonetheless.
Furthermore, I am inclined to think that while they may not be universals
(in that they are not multiply exemplifiable), there are attributes such that
they are exemplified in no possible worlds. The property of being human and
non-human is one such attribute. It is such that it is impossible that it be
exemplified; nonetheless, it exists in every possible world. Some might think
that it is contradictory to give ontic status to such attributes; but this is
wrong. What would be contradictory would be to insist that such attributes
are exemplified in some possible world. Here, it seems to me, attributes are
on a par with propositions. If we are willing to countenance propositions, we
will concede that some propositions are impossible or necessarily false. To
concede this, however, is not to embrace any inconsistent thesis. What would
be inconsistent is the assertion that a necessarily false proposition is true in
some possible world. Similarly, for attributes: we can with perfect consistency
hold that there are attributes which are necessarily non-exemplified.

III. MORE PLATONISM

I have agreed, then, with Plato in holding that not all universals are necessarily
exemplified. Every universal exists in every possible world; but the universals
that are exemplifiable exclusively by contingent beings are unexemplified in
TOWARDS A REALISTIC ONTOLOGY 97

some possible worlds. Plato tells us other things about universals. He suggests
that universals are ingenerable and incorruptible. 7 Intuitively, the idea here is
that it is impossible for a universal either to come into existence or pass out
of existence, that the existence of universals is necessarily without beginning
and end. We can formulate these intuitions in terms of the framework ofpos-
sible worlds if we say, first, that an object x is ungenerated in a world W just
in case x exists in W but does not come into existence in Wand, second, that
an object, x, is uncorrupted in W just in case x exists in W but does not pass
out of existence in W. Thus, wherever W is a properly temporal possible world
(i.e., a world with some sort of temporal framework), an object, x, is both
ungenerated and uncorrupted in W if and only if there is no moment, t, in
the history of W such that x does not exist at t. Now, let us say that an object,
x, is ingenerable just in case x actually exists and, for every world, W, if x
exists in W, then x is ungenerated in Wand that an object, x, is incorruptible
just in case x actually exists and for every world, W, if x exists in W, then x is
uncorrupted in W.
I have so far argued that every universal is a necessary being; but as I have
understood the notion of a necessary being, this thesis does not entail that
every universal is both ingenerable and incorruptible; for as I have used the
term, a being is necessary merely if it exists in every possible world. To be
ingenerable and incorruptible, an object must exist at every moment in the
history of each properly temporal world in which it exists. But while the
concepts here may be different, the general line of argument used to establish
the necessary existence of universals establishes their ingenerability and in-
corruptibility as well. We have already seen that for every universal, U, there
is a necessarily true proposition to the effect that U is an attribute. Let us
focus on one of these propositions - the proposition that red is an attribute.
This proposition is necessary; but this is not just to say that it is true in every
possible world. If this proposition is necessary, it must as well be the case that
for every properly temporal world, W, the proposition is true at every mo-
ment in the history of W. Furthermore, for any properly temporal world, W,
and any moment, t, in the history of W, this proposition can be true at t only
if red exists at t. But, then, for every properly temporal world, W, there is no
moment, t, in the history of W such that red does not exist at t. Red, then,
exists in every possible world and at every moment in the history of each pro-
perly temporal world. But, then, red is both ungenerated and uncorrupted in
every properly temporal world in which it exists. If there are possible worlds
that have nothing corresponding to a temporal framework, then presumably,
it is incoherent to speak of anything's happening in those worlds, to speak of
98 CHAPTER FIVE

any change in those worlds. Thus, if there are any such worlds, red does not
come into existence or pass out of existence in them either. But, then, red is
ungenerated and uncorrupted in every world in which it exists; but since it
exists in the actual world, it is both ingenerable and incorruptible; and this is
a perfectly general argument, one holding for any universal. Now, although
my use of 'necessary being' is not such that to say that a being is necessary is
to imply that it is ingenerable and incorruptible, most metaphysicians have
used the term in this stronger sense; but, then, the argument just presented
shows that universals are necessary beings not just in my weak sense but also
in the strong sense that has been dominant in the history of metaphysics.
Plato also tells us that universals are unchangeable or immutable. 8 The
suggestion here is that universals are not only not subject to those changes
which are generations and corruptions, but that they are not subject to
changes of any kind. Is Plato right here? Well, that depends on what one
counts as a change. If one says that an object, x, undergoes a change in a
possible world, W, just in case there is a time, t, in the history of W such that
x possesses (or lacks) a property Pat t and a later time, t+n, in the history of
W such that x lacks (or possesses) P at t+n, then he must conclude that Plato
is wrong here; for surely universals can exemplify different properties at dif-
ferent times. Suppose, for example, that at a time, t, in a world, W, Socrates
exemplifies a property, P, and that at a later time, t+n, in W, Socrates comes
to lack P; then, at t, P exemplifies the property of being exemplified by
Socrates and at t+n, Placks this property. Again, suppose that there is a time,
t, in a world, W, such that Quine thinks of a certain relation, R, at t and that
there is a later time, t+n, in W such that at t+n Quine is engrossed in reflec-
tions on some other subject; then, at t, the relation R has a property it lacks
at t+n - the property of being thought of by Quine.
One might object, however, that the properties I have pointed to are all
relational (or quasi-relational) properties - those involving a universal's,being
exemplified by something else or its being the object of someone's mental
states or acts. Now, one might argue that changes with respect to properties
like these are not "real" changes on the part of universals. The point here
would be that a universal's exemplifying or failing to exemplify these proper-
ties depends not on how it is with the universal but on how it is with some
other object. It is, one might insist, Socrates and Quine who actually undergo
the relevant changes here; it is only in a derivative sense that the universals in
question can be said to change. Now, while I agree that the point being made
here is a bit vague, I am inclined to think that it involves a genuine insight. As
far as I can tell, universals can change only with respect to their relational (or
TOWARDS A REALISTIC ONTOLOGY 99

quasi-relational) properties; they cannot undergo the kind of change philoso-


phers have sometimes called alteration - change in their non-relational pro-
perties. Indeed, wherever they do "change" with respect to their relational (or
quasi-relational) properties, that "change" always presupposes that some other
object has changed with respect to some non-relational property, has under-
gone some alteration. In themselves (Le., with respect to their non-relational
properties), we can say, universals are not subject to change. There is no
world, W, in which a universal undergoes a change in one of its non-relational
properties; but, then, while universals are mutable in the very broad sense
that the properties they exemplify in possible worlds can vary over time, in a
more restricted sense of 'change' (where change involves alteration or varia-
tion in non-relational properties), universals are, as Plato saw, immutable.
But while I have followed the Plato of the middle dialogues in holding that
universals are necessary beings, ingenerable, incorruptible, and incapable of
undergoing alteration, the middle Plato makes a number of claims about
universals that I find suspect or clearly false. Thus, in some middle dialogues,
Plato insists that we can apprehend universals only by the intellect and never
by the sense, that universals and universals alone constitute the subject-matter
of what can properly be called knowledge, that our cognitive state with
respect to universals is infallible, and, finally, that universals are, in some
sense, divine. 9 I find it plausible to think that Plato was wrong in each of
these claims. I believe that in a perfectly straightforward sense, at least some
universals can be said to be perceived. Thus, we see colors, hear sounds, and
feel textures of different sorts. In all these cases, I am inclined to say, we are
"apprehending" universals. Furthermore, knowledge is not restricted to uni-
versals; we can know truths about concrete particulars. It may, of course, be
that every truth about a particular involves a reference to some universal it
exemplifies; but clearly not everything that can be known bears exclUSively
on universals. Furthermore, we can make mistakes about universals. Just as
there is incompetent thinking about particulars, so there is mistaken thinking
about universals. Finally, if Plato is using the expression 'divine' in any ordi-
nary sense, he is wrong here as well; for while universals may provide fascinat-
ing subjects for the thinking of ontologists, they lack the features required to
quench our thirst for objects worthy of religious aspiration.

IV. THE IDENTITY-CONDITIONS FOR UNIVERSALS

In Chapter Four, we mentioned Quine's reluctance to embrace an ontology


of attributes. Quine's difficulty here is that attributes lack what he calls a
100 CHAPTER FIVE

"crystal clear identity concept."IO In other contexts, Quine has expressed


this difficulty in even stronger terms, insisting that no one is justified in em-
bracing an ontology incorporating objects of a kind, K, unless he is prepared
to specify in straightforward terms, the identity-conditions for individual K's.
As he has put it, "No entity without identity.,,11 It would seem, then, that
by Quine's lights, it is incumbent upon us to present a set of identity-condi-
tions for universals.
Quine's difficulty with what have traditionally been called universals is
that they are not subject to the kind of extensional identity-conditions that
hold for sets or classes. Different universals can be exemplified by all and
only the same objects. But while agreeing with Quine that it is impossible to
specify identity-conditions for universals by reference to the objects that
actually exemplify them, one might think that such conditions could be
specified relative to a framework of possible worlds. Roughly, the idea is that
a universal, U, and a universal, U', are identical just in case for every possible
world, W, all the objects exemplifying U in W exemplify U' in Wand vice
versa. 12 Quine, of course, would object to this statement of the identity-
conditions for universals on the grounds that it involves an appeal to what
he takes to be obscure modal concepts; but the realist might respond that
our commitment to universals just is a commitment to implicitly modal no-
tions, so that the inescapability of a realistic ontology entails the inescapa-
bility of modal concepts. While I think that this response to Quine is correct,
I am inclined to think that the proposed account of the identity-conditions
for universals is unsatisfactory. It points to a necessary, but not a sufficient
condition for universal-identity. A universal, U, and a universal, U', cannot
be identical unless they are coexemplified across possible worlds; nonetheless,
it is possible for distinct universals to be necessarily coexemplified. Triangu-
larity and trilaterality, for example, are different universals; and yet they are
exemplified by all and only the same objects in every possible world. Similar-
ly, while the property of being both human and non-human and the property
of being both round and square are not strictly speaking universals (since they
cannot be multiply exemplified), nonetheless, they are distinct attributes and
yet have the same range of exemplificata across possible worlds.
But while the attempt to provide identity-conditions for universals by
reference to the objects exemplifying them, whether in extensional or modal
terms, fails, there is, I think, a straight-forward schema which correctly speci-
fies identity-conditions for universals; for it is surely true that given any
universals, U and U', U is identical with U' if and only if for every possible
world, W, every attribute exemplified by U in W is exemplified by U' in W
TOWARDS A REALISTIC ONTOLOGY 101

and vice versa. That this account of their identity-conditions is correct be-
comes obvious when we reflect on the fact that for every universal, U, there is
an attribute which is exemplified by U in every possible world and exemplified
by something distinct from U in no world at all - the attribute of being U. 13
The Quinean may object that the appeal to attributes like that of being red-
ness and that of being triangularity are useless in enabling us to determine whe-
ther a universal, U, and a universal, U', are the same or different; for to know
for any attribute of the form, being U, whether a universal, U', exemplifies
that attribute, we would first have to know whether U and U' are the same or
different. I fail, however, to see how this objection is relevant. The task was
one of specifying the conditions under which a universal, U, and a universal,
U', are the same or different; but the objection here is that we could never
apply the criterion presented for making judgments about the identity of uni-
versals. The response, I take it, is that my criterion of identity was not meant
to handle epistemological difficulties concerning our judgments about the
identity and difference of universals; it was meant to be an ontological account,
an account about how things are and not about we find out how they are.
But if the critic persists, insisting that we provide such an epistemological
account, my counter is to demand that he provide an airtight set of necessary
and sufficient conditions for judgments of identity about things other than
universals. The fact is, however, that it is notoriously difficult to specify such
conditions even for things as ontologically benign as material bodies and
persons. It may even turn out that there are no such conditions, that in some
cases, it is just impossible for us to say whether we have one and the same
material object/person or two different material objects/persons. But whether
this is so or not, it is surely not the case that the difficulty of providing neces-
sary and sufficient conditions for judgments of identity about material bodies
and persons calls into question the legitimacy of the ontological framework
of which they are a part. What I want to suggest is that the same is true of
universals. Just because it may be difficult for us to determine for a pair of
universals, U and U', whether U and U' are the same or different or to speci-
fy, in a non-question-begging way, how we know that U and U' are the same
or different, it does not follow that there is anything suspect about the ontol-
ogical framework of which universals are a part.

V. HOW MANY UNIVERSALS ARE THERE?

But while there may be a problem about specifying criteria for judgments
about the identity of universals, we can make some headway towards deter-
102 CHAPTER FIVE

mining how many universals there are. It seems to me that we can easily show
that there is at least a denumerable infinity of universals, i.e., as many as
there are natural numbers. To show this, we need merely reflect on a univer-
sal like mankind which is exemplifiable exclusively by particular substances
(material bodies and persons). Let us call such a universal a first order univer-
sal. Mankind, we can say, exemplifies the property of being a first order
universal; and if we say that a universal is a second order universal just in case
it is exemplifiable exclusively by universals which are first order universals,
then we can say that the property of being a first order universal has the pro-
perty of being a second order universal. This property, in turn, exemplifies
the property of being a third order universal; and so on ad infinitum. Be-
ginning with universals like mankind, then, we can sketch out a procedure for
generating an infinite hierarchy of universals, each member of which corre-
sponds with one of the natural numbers.
I think, however, that if we make a couple of fairly plausible assumptions,
we can establish an even stronger thesis - that there is a non-denumerable
infinity of universals, that there are as many universals as there are real num-
bers. The assumptions in question are, first, that the various real numbers are
existent objects and, second, that wherever an object, x, enters into a relation,
R, with an object, y, there is a property which x exemplifies - that of enter-
ing into R with y. Armed with these assumptions, it is an easy task to show
that there is a non-denumerable infinity of universals. Take the number one;
it is greater than the fraction ~; consequently, it has the property of being
greater than ~. Furthermore, for any number, n, such that n is greater than
~ but less than one, one has the property of being greater than n; but there
is a non-denumerable infinity of such numbers; therefore, there is a non-
denumerable infinity of such properties; and every one of them is exemplified
by the number one.

VI. CONCLUSION

The topic of universals could lead one in a variety of different directions. It


could lead one into the area of epistemology, where one might ask how we
come to have knowledge of universals and how universals figure in our em-
pirical knowledge about the world. It could lead one into the area of philo-
sophical theology, where questions about the relation of God to universals
and questions about the role of universals in His creative activity have always
been central. It could also lead one into the area of aesthetics, where ques-
tions would arise about the role of universals in the production of artifacts
TOWARDS A REALISTIC ONTOLOGY 103

and their role in aesthetic judgments. It could also lead us into the areas of
ethics and political philosophy where questions about the role of universals
as moral standards have vexed philosophers since at least the time of Plato.
In what remains of this book, however, I want to leave such interesting
questions aside and focus on some more specifically ontological questions
about universals. The questions I want to consider bear on the way in which
the concept of a universal interacts with another central concept in ontology,
the concept of substance. The issues I want to consider all follow from the
question of how universals figure in the ontological structure of substances.
This questIon, it turns out, forces us to examine a variety of perennial meta-
physical problems, problems about the individuation of substances, their
identity-conditions, problems about change, problems about the concept of
essence, and so on. Such problems have never been far from the surface when
the issue of universals has been debated. To these problems I now want to
turn.

NOTES

1 See, e.g., Phaedo, 73 A-81 A and Republic, 507 B-507 C.


2 Categories 5 (2b 5), translated by E. M. Edghill in McKeon, Basic Works of Aristotle,
p.9.
3 'Universals and Metaphysical Realism,' pp. 130-133.
4 'Stenius on the Tractatus'in Bergmann's Logic and Reality, p. 245.
5 'World and Essence,' Philosophical Review, 1970: reprinted in Loux, Universals and
Particulars, pp. 335-336. My dept to Plantinga in this and the following section should
be obvious.
6 Because he accepts a causal account of the reference of kind-terms, Kripke disagrees
here. See 'Naming and Necessity' in Semantics of Natural Language, edited by Davidson
and Harman (Dordrecht: Reidel), pp. 253-254. But while Kripke disagrees with regard
to these universals, he is willing to admit that there are universals that are not exempli-
fied in the real world.
7 Phaedo, 79 D and 80 A-B.
8 Ibid.
9 See, e.g., Phaedo, 78 D-80 B and Republic, 476 E-479 E.
10 'Speaking of Objects,' Ontological Relativity, p. 2l.
11 Ibid., p. 23.
12 This sort of account can be found in a number of recent writers. As the account is
usually stated, properties are functions from possible worlds to extensions, so that a
property, P, is a set theoretical object - the set of ordered pairs such that for each pos-
sible world, W, W is the fust object in the pair and the set of objects (or n-tuples of
objects) such that all and only those objects (or n-tuples of objects) exemplify P in W is
the second element in the pair. See, e.g., Richard Montague's "On the Nature of Certain
Philosophical Entities" in Formal Philosophy; Selected Papers of Richard Montague,
104 CHAPTER FIVE

edited by Richmond Thomason, (New Haven: Yale University Press), 1974, especially,
pp.152-l60.
13 It might be thought that one could provide a more substantial account of the identity
conditions for universals as follows: for any universal, U, and any universal, U', U is
identical with U' just in case necessarily, for any person, P, and any object, x, U is be-
lieved by P to be exemplified by x if and only if U' is believed by P to be exemplified by
x. But while this sort of account appears promising, it fails since people can have incom-
patible de re beliefs. On this account, then, we would have to deny that wisdom is
identical with wisdom since it is clearly possible that there be a person, P, such that it is
the case both that wisdom is believed by P to be exemplified by an object x and that
wisdom is believed by P not to be exemplified by x.
PART TWO

SUBSTANCES
CHAPTER SIX

TWO THEORIES OF SUBSTANCE

I. BARE SUBSTRATA

In this section of the book, I want to investigate the topic of substance. It is


notorious that philosophers have employed the term 'substance' in a variety
of ways. My use of the term will be tied to a long tradition (one stemming
from Aristotle) in which the term 'substance' is used in contrast with the
term 'attribute', so that substances are particulars that can exemplify attri-
butes, but cannot themselves be exemplified. In this tradition the paradig-
matic substances are familiar concrete objects - material bodies, plants,
animals, and human beings. 1 They are contingent beings: they come into
being, persist through time, and then pass out of existence. Furthermore,
they take up space, and they are subject to a variety of changes through
which they remain numerically the same. Philosophers in this tradition have
sometimes wanted to extend the term 'substance' to apply to objects with no
corporeal characteristics at all; sometimes they have even claimed that God is
a substance, although in an analogous sense of that term. But while philos-
ophers in this tradition may have occasionally extended the concept in these
ways, they have been in general agreement that the things an account of
substance should in the first instance characterize are ordinary objects of the
spatio-temporal sort. In what follows, I shall limit my use of the term 'sub-
stance' to the familiar objects that provide the paradigms for the traditional
Aristotelian notion of substance. As I shall use the term, then, substances are
objects of pre-philosophical thinking; they present themselves to the ontol-
ogist as data for philosophical analysis. His task is to provide a coherent
account of the ontolOgical structure of these familiar non-philosophical
objects. My concern in the second half of this book is to determine just which
philosophical account of the ontological structure of these objects is correct.
Metaphysicians have often held that an analysis of substance should focus
on the. "relationship" between ordinary objects and their properties. Typi-
cally we think that each of the properties associated with a substance is
possessed by some object; furthermore, we tend to think that all of the pro-
perties associated with anyone ordinary object are possessed by one and the
same thing. Indeed, we are inclined to think that it is because they have a
107
108 CHAPTER SIX

common possessor that distinct properties come to be associated with a single


substance. Now, pre-philosophical thought and talk about substance operates
on the assumption that it is the substance itself which possesses all of the pro-
perties we associate with it. An important theme in the history of ontology is
that this pre-philosophical conception of the relationship between a substance
and the properties associated with it is false. On this view, the possessor of
the properties associated with a material body or person is something other
than the substance; it is, rather, an "ingredient in" the substance, a constitu-
ent of the substance which, along with the properties associated with that
substance, makes the substance be what it is.
The dialectic which leads to this view takes as its starting point the as-
sumption that where P is an exemplified property, the possessor of P is some-
thing that can be apprehended independently of P; it is a thing such that
whatever it is, its being that does not presuppose its possessing P. According
to this assumption, then, properties are something added to their possessors;
in itself, the possessor of a property has a being that is distinct from and
independent of the property it possesses. We can see how this assumption
operates if we consider the relationship between an ordinary object and the
properties associated with it. Let us consider a small red ball. We think of the
ball as a piece of rubber which is colored red, is smooth in texture, is spherical
in shape, is, say, two inches in diameter, gives off the odor characteristic of
rubber, and weighs, say, five ounces. Now, we typically think that the ball,
the piece of rubber, is the possessor of these characteristics of color, texture,
shape, size, odor, and weight. But, beginning with the color, let us consider
the issue in the light of the assumption just outlined.
That assumption forces us to say that whatever it is that possesses the
color associated with the ball, it is something which in itself is not red. It is
such that the property of being red is something added to it, so as to charac-
terize it as red. But while the possessor of this property is not in itself red, it
is not something which in itself is some color other than red; for we associate
with the ball not just the color red, but also the generic property of being
colored, so that whatever possesses the color red also possesses the generic
property of being colored. But, then, the assumption just stated forces us to
say that the possessor of the properties associated with the ball is something
which in itself has no color at all; it is something to which the property of
being colored is added. The same is true of the texture associated with the
ball. Whatever is the literal possessor of the properties associated with the ball
is something which in itself is not smooth; but it does not lack this property
because it possesses some other texture; for there is the generic property of
TWO THEORIES OF SUBSTANCE 109

having some texture or other which we also associate with the ball. Whatever
is the literal bearer of the properties associated with the ball has that property
as well. But, then, the property-independence we must read into this object
forces us to say that whatever possesses the properties associated with the ball
is something which of itself has no texture at all. Likewise, this object is
something which in itself lacks the spherical shape associated with the ball;
but neither is it something which in itself is of some other shape; for it also
possesses the generic property of being of some shape or other. In its intrinsic
nature, then, the possessor of the properties associated with the ball lacks
that property too. Again, the possessor of the various properties associated
with the ball is something which in itself is not two inches in diameter; nor
since we associate with the ball the generic property of being of some size or
other, is it a thing which of itself has some other size. It is also something
which in itself lacks the odor characteristic of rubber and the property of
weighing five ounces; and its lacking these properties does not entail its hav-
ing other odor-properties or weight-properties which can compete with these;
for it is the literal possessor of the generic properties of being of some odor
and being of some weight and, so, of itself, it must be something without an
odor and without a weight.
But just what is this object that is the literal possessor of these properties?
We want to say that it is the ball, the piece of rubber before us, that possesses
these properties; but now we seem forced to think of that piece of rubber in
extraordinary terms - as something which in itself is of no color, texture,
size, shape, weight, or odor. It is astonishing that our ball should have turned
out to be something that can be apprehended independently of all these kinds
of properties. But even the piece of rubber thOUght of in these extraordinary
terms disappears when we realize that we associate with it the property of
being made of rubber. That too is a property we associate with the ball; and
the assumption about property-independence forces us to say that whatever is
the literal possessor of the properties associated with the ball is in itself some-
thing that does not involve this property. It is something which in itselflacks
even the property of being made of rubber. Nor again is that object something
which in itself has some other material characterization; for there is the gen-
eric property of being made of some stuff or other; and the object in question
must be the literal possessor of that property as well. In itself, then, the
possessor of the properties associated with the ball is something which has no
property in virtue of which it is any recognizable kind of stuff at all.
What the assumption drives us to, then, is the view that the ordinary way
of thinking about the ball is wrong. The ball does not literally possess the
110 CHAPTER SIX

properties associated with it; something else does. This something else is just
that - a something. It is an object which in itself lacks all the properties
associated with the ball. Nor is it something which in itself has properties
other than those associated with the ball; for if there are any properties
possessed by that something which are not, in ordinary parlance, attributed
to the ball, the argument which so relentlessly stripped the properties "of'
the ball from their literal possessor applies in the case of these properties too.
In itself, that object lacks these properties as well as any generic properties to
which they are subordinated. What the assumption about property-independ-
ence forces us to say, then, is that the literal possessor of the properties
ordinarily attributed to the ball is something which underlies those properties
but in itself is lacking in all properties. Philosophers who have accepted this
assumption have appropriately called this something bare substratum.
Now, the argument presented in the case of the red ball is perfectly general;
it can be applied in the case of any ordinary object. Thus, the assumption
about property-indepenrlence leads us to the general view that what I have
called substances - ordinary objects like material bodies, plants, animals, and
human beings - are simply complexes or wholes whose constitutents are,
first, the various properties associated with them and, second, a bare substra-
tum. This substratum is the literal possessor of the properties with which it
is co-present; and it is because they are all possessed by it that they are pro-
perties which, in ordinary parlance, we think of as properties "of' one and
the same substance.
To one unacquainted with the history of metaphysics, this general line of
argument and the view to which it gives rise are likely to appear shocking.
Indeed, one might fmd it hard to believe that any philosopher would ever
have argued in this way to the doctrine of bare substratum. In fact, this line
of argument or something closely resembling it can be found in the writings
of some of the greatest thinkers in the history of ontology. In the third chap-
ter of Metaphysics Z, for example, we find Aristotle saying:
When all else is stripped off evidently nothing but matter remains. For while the rest are
affections, products, and potencies of bodies, length, breadth, and depth are quantities,
and not substances ... , but the substance is rather that to which these belong primarily.
But when length and breadth and depth are taken away we see nothing left unless there
is something that is bounded by these; so that to those who consider the question thus
matter alone must be substance. By matter I mean that which in itself is neither a parti-
cular thing nor of a certain quantity nor assigned to any other of the categories by which
being is determined. For there is something of which each of these is predicated, whose
being is different from that of each of the predicates (for the predicates other than sub-
stance are predicated of substance, while substance is predicated of matter). Therefore,
TWO THEORIES OF SUBSTANCE 111

the ultimate substratum is of itself neither a particular thing nor of a particular quantity
nor otherwise positively characterized nor yet is it the negations of these, for negations
will belong to it only by accident. 2

Aristotle wants to claim, then, that every substance incorporates what he calls
matter, something which "of itself is neither a particular thing nor a particu-
lar quantity nor otherwise positively characterized." He deviates from the line
of argument I have just set out in denying that this must be construed as the
possessor of all the properties ("predicates") associated with an ordinary
substance. Most of those properties, he wants to claim, can be thought of as
possessed by the substance itself, where the substance is thought of as some-
thing which in itself has a being distinct from and independent of the being of
those properties. One property, however, vis., that of being the kind of sub-
stance in question, cannot be thought of as possessed by that object; its pos-
sessor must be something "whose being is different from" the property in
question; and here what I have called bare substratum and what Aristotle calls
matter enters the account.
Aristotle, then, seems to endorse the line of argument I have presented,
but wants to deny that it forces us to construe matter or bare substrata as the
subject of all the properties associated with a substance. John Locke, on the
other hand, presents us with an account of property-possession which con-
strues all the properties associated with a particular substance as having a
single possessor or subject:

Though, in the meantime, it be manifest, and everyone, upon inquiry into his own
thoughts, will find that he has no idea of any substance, e.g., let it be gold, horse, iron,
man, vitriol, bread, but what he has barely of those sensible qualities, which he supposes
to inhere; with a supposition of such a substratum as gives, as it were, support to those
qualities or ideas, which he has observed to exist united together. 3

Locke wants to deny, then, that the appeal to substratum involves any modi-
fication of our pre-philosophical thinking about substances. This notion is
presumably implicit in ordinary thought and talk about things like "gold,
horse, iron, man, vitriol, bread." Nonetheless, Locke's account of how this
notion enters our thinking about substances and his characterization of the
notion corresponds with the line of argument presented in the case of the red
ball. Essentially, Locke wants to say, we get the notion of underlying substra-
tum by a process of conceptually stripping off the various properties (what he
calls qualities) from the ordinary objects with which we associate them. This
comes out in the following famous passage from the Essay where Locke sub-
stitutes the term 'substance' for 'substratum':
112 CHAPTER SIX

So that if anyone will examine himself concerning his notion of pure substance in
general, he will fmd he has no other idea of it at all, but only a supposition of he knows
not what support of such qualities which are capable of producing simple ideas in us;
which qualities are commonly called accidents. If anyone should be asked, what is the
subject wherein colour or weight inheres, he would have nothing to say, but the solid
extended parts; and if were demanded what is it that solidity and extension adhere in,
he would not be in a much better position than the Indian before mentioned who, saying
that the world was supported by a great elephant, was asked what the elephant rested
on; to which his answer was - a great tortoise; but being pressed to know what gave
support to the broad-backed tortoise replied - something, he knew not what . ... The
idea that we have, to which we give the general name substance, being nothing but the
supposed, but unknown support of those qualities we find existing, which we imagine
cannot subsist since re sub stante , without something to support them, we call that sup-
port substantia, which according to the true import of the word is, in plain English,
standing under or upholding. 4

Thus, Locke wants to claim that underlying the properties associated with
an ordinary object is something which, because it lacks all properties in virtue
of which it mi~t be characterized, is unknowable. Locke's notion of the
underlying subject of properties has its proponents in our own century. Thus,
in retrospect, the later Russell tells us that the theory of substance developed
in his famous paper, "On the Relations of Universals and Particulars," involves
an implicit appeal to the notion of bare substrata;S and more recently Gustav
Bergmann and his followers have attempted to resurrect this notion of an
underlying possessor of properties. Bergmann insists that ordinary objects
have among their constituents what he calls bare particulars. He tells us that
while these entities are the literal exemplifiers of the properties entering into
the constitution of ordinary objects, they are things which "neither are nor
have natures; any two of them are not intrinsically but only numerically
different."6

II. BUNDLES, CLUSTERS, AND COLLECTIONS

But despite its long and distinguished history, the notion of bare substratum
has come in for some hard knocks. Its most relentless critics have been
philosophers of an empiricist temperament. They have contended that since
bare substrata are objects which in themselves lack all properties, they could
never be the objects of empirical acquaintance, whether perceptual or intro-
spective. In general, such philosophers are suspicious of any kind of appeal to
entities which transcend both perceptual and introspective experience; but
they have found the contention that it is only bare substrata that can proper-
ly function as the subjects of property-attributions positively outrageous. The
TWO THEORIES OF SUBST ANCE 113

appeal to substrata as the literal bearers of properties, they insist, has the
consequence that we are precluded from ever making correct property-
attributions; for to succeed here, we would have to identify the subjects of
such attributions; but given the substratum theorist's characterization of
these entities, this would presuppose our picking out objects that are empiri-
cally inaccessible to us.
Empiricist critics of bare substrata have typically insisted that we can pro-
vide a perfectly coherent account of ordinary objects without an appeal to
entities distinct from the properties we associate with them. Frequently,
critics of substratum-ontologies have expressed this view by way of a meta-
phor, claiming that ordinary objects are nothing more than collections, bun-
dles, or clusters of properties. Nor, they have argued, does the phenomenon
of property-attribution prove problematic for this sort of account of the
ontological structure of substances. When, in ordinary parlance, we say that
a substance has a property, we are not implicitly referring to some constituent
of the substance that is categorically different from the property we attribute
to that substance. We are merely asserting the existence of a relation between
that property and the totality of properties making up the substance; we are
saying that the former belongs to or is an element in the latter.
Historically, the empiricist scepticism which underlies this sort of rejection
of a substratum ontology in favor of what I shall call a "bundle" or "cluster"
ontology has its roots in Locke's own account of underlying substrata. As my
second quote from Locke's Essay indicates, the unknowability he feels forced
to read into the concept of bare substratum did not rest altogether easy with
his own empiricist predilections; nonetheless, he took it to be a notion central
to our pre-philosophical thinking about physical or material substances; and
he seems to have endorsed the notion, contending that "we cannot conceive
how they (Le., the properties associated with physical objects) should subsist
alone nor one in another;,,7 and Locke insisted that the same problem arises
in the case of the mind:

The same thing happens concerning the operations of the mind, vis., thinking, reasoning,
fearing, etc., which we concluding not to subsist of themselves, nor apprehending how
they can belong to body or be produced by it, we are apt to think them the actions of
some other substance which we call spirit. 8

Locke's successors in the empiricist tradition, however, took the epis-


temological difficulties with bare substrata more seriously. They challenged
Locke's contention that an object lacking all empirically ascertainable proper-,
ties could be an element in our pre-philosophical thinking about substances;
114 CHAPTER SIX

and they denied as well that the concept of an object of this sort should enter
into the philosopher's thinking about substances. Berkeley was willing to
press these two contentions for the case of physical substances at any rate.
Thus, he tells us that in pre philosophical thinking, physical objects are sim-
ply collections of properties; he construes these properties in psychological
terms as sense-ideas and says that "a certain color, taste, smell, figure, and
consistence having been observed to go together are accounted one distinct
thing, signified by the name 'apple'. Other collections of ideas constitute a
stone, a tree, a book, and the like sensible things;,,9 and Berkeley explicitly
denies that our pre-philosophical view of physical objects as collections of
properties requires any sort of modification at the hands of the philosopher.
It is notorious, however, that Berkeley is unwilling to do awaY.completely
with Locke's substratum; for he insists that while physical objects are mere
collections of ideas, those ideas themselves need a mental substratum, a "thing
entirely distinct from them wherein they exist ;,,10 and despite Berkeley's
relentless criticism of Locke's material substratum, his characterization of this
"thing" involves an appeal to the unknowability explicit in Locke's charac-
terization of substratum; for while insisting that "the objects of human
knowledge" are exclusively ideas, Berkeley denies that we have any idea of
mental substratum. 11
As is well known, Hume pointed out the inconsistency in Berkeley's ac-
count here, insisting that the appeal to mental substratum is no more legiti-
mate than the appeal to material substratum. If the ordinary man attends to
his mental life, Hume tells us, he finds "nothing but a bundle or collection of
distinct perceptions which succeed each other with unconceivable rapidity
and are as in a perpetual flux and movement.,,12 Our pre-philosophical no-
tions of both material and mental substance, then, conform to Berkeley's
characterization of physical objects:

The idea of a substance is nothing but a collection of simple ideas that are united by the
imagination and have a particular name assigned them by which we are able to recall,
either to ourselves or others, that collection;13

and Hume plainly thought the philosopher's attempt to supplement these pre-
philosophical notions by the introduction of bare substrata to be illegitimate.
Like Berkeley, Hume framed his account of substance in the psychological
idiom which interprets ordinary properties as ideas; but Hume's rejection of
bare substratum and his ensuing account of substances as "collections" of
properties have been endorsed by succeeding generations of empiricists, in-
cluding many who would be unwilling to accept his puzzling interpretation of
TWO THEORIES OF SUBSTANCE 115

properties. The Russell of Inquiry into Meaning and Truth, for example,
argues that since "the introduction of an unknowable should be avoided
wherever possible," the notion of an underlying subject should be rejected in
favor of the view that ordinary objects are "bundles of qualities." 14 Likewise,
A. J. Ayer has argued that the notion of "the 'unknown somewhat' in which
properties adhere" is a mere "metaphysical invention" and has insisted that
we should adopt the view that things are "only 'bundles of qualities' ".15
More recently, Herbert Hochberg has taken a similar line, rejecting Bergmann's
bare particulars on the grounds that their introduction violates the basic tenet
of empiricism, what he calls the Principle of Acquaintance, the view that
"any primitive descriptive term of 'the language of ontology' must refer to
something which is presented in experience:,,16

To adhere to a principle of acquaintance then forces one to abandon substratum since,


on it, one must "know" by acquaintance the simple elements he speaks about - be
acquainted with the referents of the simple signs that designate substrata. 1 7

Ill. PROBLEMS IN THE BUNDLE THEORY:


BARE SUBSTRATA REVISITED

We have, then, two competing theories about the ontological structure of


substance. According to the first - the substratum theory, each substance is a
whole comprised of constituents of two distinct categories; each substance
has among its constituents the various properties we associate with it and an
underlying subject which, while in itself lacking all properties, is the literal
possessor of the properties it underlies. According to the second, the constitu-
ents of substances are exhausted by the properties we associate with them;
they are merely collections, bundles, or clusters of those properties. Now,
confronted with these two theories, it is difficult not to be sympathetic with
the bundle theory; for whatever our antecedent epistemolOgical views, the
suggestion that substances incorporate intrinsically unpropertied constituents
is bound to arouse our suspicions. But to deny that substrata are constituents
of substances seems to commit one to the view that substances just are the
totalities of properties we associate with them. Thus, while the bundle theory
may have been the original product of empiricist thinking about the concept
of substance, one does not have to be a hard-core empiricist to find the view
preferable to the substratum theory. If one has doubts about the appeal to
bare substrata (and it is hard not to), then one is tempted to adopt the bundle
theorist's account of substance.
116 CHAPTER" SIX

But despite its initial appeal, the bundle theory has been subjected to
severe criticism; and while critics have pointed to a variety of difficulties in
the bundle theory, most objections to this theory of substance take one of
four forms. Towards clarifying the issues at stake in the debate between sub-
stratum and bundle theorists, I want to outline these four forms of objection.
Objection I; The bundle theorist cannot account for the con-
tingency of substances.
The bundle theorist holds that ordinary objects are nothing more than the
properties we associate with them. It would seem, then, that he is committed
to the view that to say that a substance exists is simply to say that the pro-
perties associated with the substance' all exist. Properties are, however, neces-
sary beings, so that in identifying a substance with its associated properties,
the bundle theorist is committed to holding that ordinary objects are all
necessary beings. IS But, then, he must hold that every substance is both in-
generable and incorruptible; and, furthermore, he must hold that given any
list of properties sufficiently determinate to constitute a possible substance, it
is a necessary truth that there exists a substance satisfying the properties in
the list. And all of this is plainly false; ordinary objects are both generable
and corruptible; and there are descriptions of possible substances that are not,
in fact, satisfied.
Objection II; The bundle theorist cannot make sense of identity
through change.
It is a commonplace that substances undergo change. As a result of change,
they become qualitatively different: they come to possess properties they did
not possess or they cease to possess properties they previously did possess.
But even though they are qualitatively different as a result of change, sub-
stances can and frequently do persist or remain numerically identical through
change. Indeed, identity through change is a pre-philosophical truism. It is a
truism, however, that the bundle theory of substance cannot accomodate.
Change, we have seen, always involves an alteration in the properties asso-
ciated with a substance; but since he construes a substance as a collection
of properties, the bundle theorist must say that what emerges from a change
is invariably a new collection of properties and, consequently, a different
substance.
Objection III; The bundle theorist must construe all true state-
ments ascribing properties to substances as tautologous.
TWO THEORIES OF SUBSTANCE 117

We frequently make statements of the subject-predicate form in which we


pick out a certain substance and ascribe to it a certain property. Many such
statements are non-tautologously true. On the bundle theory of substance,
however, true subject-predicate statements of this sort invariably turn out to
be tautologous. On that theory, substances are nothing more than collections
of properties so that when confronted with a subject-predicate statement of
thb sort, we cannot know which substance the statement is about unless we
know the various properties that constitute it as the substance it is. But since
those properties exhaust the properties truly ascribable to the substance, the
bundle theorist is committed to denying that there can be any true subject-
predicate statements about substance where the predicated entity is not an
element in the concept of its subject-entity; he must, that is, hold that all
such statements are tautologies.
Objection IV: The bundle theorist is committed to the truth of
the IiJentity of Indiscemibles.
According to the bundle theorist, it is necessarily true that substances are
nothing more than the totalities of properties we associate with them. But
siI'.ce the doctrine of metaphysical realism is inescapable, we must hold that
one and the same property can be an "ingredient" in numerically different
substances. It is, however, a necessary truth that where a substance, a, and a
substance, b, have all and only the same "ingredients", a and b are numerically
one and the same substance. But, then, the bundle theorist is committed to
the claim (known as the Identity of Indiscemibles) that it is impossible for
numerically different substances to have all their properties in common. The
fact. however, is that this is not impossible. Although it may never happen, it
is possible that there be numerically different, yet qualitatively indiscernible
material bodies or persons.
These four objections all agree in their basic structure. They all seek to
refute the bundle theory by deriving from it a consequence that we presum-
ably know to be false. More significant for us, however, is the fact that the
four objections also agree in pointing to difficulties in that theory which it is
only natural to think can be overcome by an appeal to the concept of bare
substratum. Thus, the first objection points to the fact that substances are
contingent and insists that in holding that substances are Simply the proper-
ties we associate with them, the bundle theorist is forced to hold that every
substance is a necessary being. But if it is impossible to explain the contin-
gency of ordinary objects on the view that they are to be identified with
the totality of properties we associate with them, then it seems reasonable to
118 CHAPTER SIX

think that every substance incorporates a constituent which, because it is


itself contingent, guarantees the contingency of the whole into which it
enters. Obviously, this additional constituent must be something distinct
from the properties associated with an object; it must be something which
neither is nor incorporates anything that is a necessary being; this additional
constituent would have to be bare substratum.
Ukewise, the second objection points to the fact that a substance can re-
main identical through a change in its properties; and, then, it contends that
since the bundle theorist identifies a substance with a certain bundle of proper-
ties, he can make no sense of identity through change. But if identity through
change is impossible on the view that substances are simply the totalities of
properties associated with them, it seems plausible to think that each substance
incorporates an entity which, while co-present with the properties associated
with it, serves as a principle of permanence in the substance. But to play this
role, the additional entity must be ontologically independent of what is tran-
sient in substance. It must, that is, be independent of all properties; and such
independence would seem to be the exclusive prerogative of bare substratum.
The third objection echoes themes which were implicit in our original con-
frontation with the substratum theory. It begins with the truism that state-
ments in which we ascribe properties to substances are sometimes both true
and non-tautologous and contends that since he identifies substances with the
properties truly ascribable to them, the bundle theorist is committed to deny-
ing this truism. But if the objection is right and it is impossible to account for
the fact that true subject-predicate statements can be non-tautologous on the
assumption that substances are merely collections of properties, then the only
reasonable course is to claim that in addition to its properties, every sub-
stance incorporates some entity that functions as the literal bearer of these
properties. Since it is to function as the referent of the subject-term of state-
ments in which the various properties associated with a substance are non-
tautologously predicated, it must be the sort of thing that can be apprehended
in complete independence from those properties; it must, that is, be bare
substratum.
Finally, the fourth objection points to the possibility of numerically dif-
ferent, yet qualitatively identical substances, arguing that the bundle theorist
is committed to a principle - thf' Identity of Indiscernibles - that explicitly
excludes this possibility. But if the possibility of numerically different, yet
qualitatively identical substances has no explanation on the bundle theory,
then it seems only plausible to think that every substance incorporates some
"ingredient" over and above its properties. Since it is to secure the individua-
TWO THEORIES OF SUBSTANCE 119

tion of the substance in which it is present, this entity can neither be repeat-
able nor incorporate repeatable entities among its "ingredients"; it must, that
is, be independent of all properties; it must be bare substratum_
Now, while we have used a single label - "bare substratum" - for the
entities introduced in response to each of the four objections, the various
objections could be handled by an appeal to different entities; for clearly,
there is no a priori reason why there must be a single entity that functions as
the ground of contingency in a substance, the principle of permanence in a
substance, the literal possessor of the properties associated with a substance,
and the principle of individuation in a substance. Nonetheless, the description
of what is required of an entity if it is to play anyone of these roles suggests
that one and the same entity could play all three roles, so that given some
principle of theoretical simplicity, it is only natural to think that one and the
same entity does; and that entity, it is only plausible to think, is the underly-
ing subject of a substratum ontology.
These four objections, then, call into question our initial intuitions that
the bundle the or/is preferable to a substratum ontology. They point to fea-
tures central to our thinking about ordinary objects which appear to have a
plaUSible explanation within the context of a substratum ontology but seem
to be inconsistent with the basic tenets of a bundle theory of substance. In
the next chapter, I want to consider these objections in greater detail to
determine whether the apparent inconsistencies they point to are real.

NOTES

1 Of course, it is not the case that throughout this tradition the term used in contrast
with 'substance' is 'attribute'. Frequently, the expression employed here is 'accident',
where accidents are predicamental rather than predicable universals, so that to speak of
something as an accident is not to imply that it is exemplified only contingently.
2 1029a 10-25, translated by W. D. Ross in McKeon, Basic Works of Aristotle, p. 785.
There are interpretative difficulties with this passage; it might be doubted, for example,
whether Aristotle is presenting this account of predication as his own. For the grounds
for these doubts see Chapter Nine, where I discuss what I call substance-theories of
substance.
3 Essay Concerning Human Understanding II.xxiii.6. I am simply assuming the tradi-
tional interpretation of Locke's view here. For a quite different interpretation, see, e.g.,
Martha Bolton's 'Substances, Substrata, and Names of Substances in Locke's Essay',
Philosophical Review, 1976, pp. 488-513. In general, I am aware that my remarks on
the empiricists in this section tend toward the procrustean. The point, obviously, is not
to provide a novel interpretation of classical empiricist thinking on substance, but simply
to introduce the traditional dialectic on the issue.
120 CHAPTER SIX

4 Ibid., 2.
5 See, e.g., My Philosophical Development (New York: Simon and Schuster), 1959,
pp.160-162.
6 Realism (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press), 1967, p. 24.
7 Essay, II.xxiii.4.
8 Ibid.,5.
9 A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, paragraph 1; p. 22 in
Principles, Dialogues, and Correspondence, ed. by C. M. Turbayne, (Indianapolis: Bobbs-
Merrill), 1965, p. 22.
10 Ibid., paragraph 2; page 23 in Turbayne.
11 Ibid., paragraph 1 (p. 22 in Turbayne) and paragraph 27 (p. 34 in Turbayne).
12 A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Part IV, section vi; p. 302 in A Treatise of
Human Nature, ed. by D. G. C. Macnabb (London: Collins), 1962.
13 Ibid., Part I, section vi; pp. 59-60 in Macnabb.
14 Ibquiry, p. 93.
IS 'The Identity of Indiscernibles' in Loux, Universals and Particulars, p. 267.
16 'On Being and Being Presented,' Philosophy of Science, 1965, p. 123.
17 'Ontology and Acquaintance,' Philosophical Studies, 1966, p. 53.
18 Here and in the following chapter, I use the term 'necessary being' in the stronger of
the two senses distinguished in Chapter Five.
CHAPTER SEVEN

THE BUNDLE THEORY

I. THE CONTINGENCY OF SUBSTANCE

The first objection, we have seen, insists that since he identifies substances
with the properties associated with them, the bundle theorist is committed to
the view that substances are necessary beings. The claim here is that since the
bundle theorist takes all of the constituents of ordinary objects to be neces-
sary beings, he is forced to construe the wholes which they comprise as
necessary. Now, when it is expressed in these terms, it becomes clear that the
first objection involves the fallacy of composition, the fallacy of assuming
that if each object entering into the constitution of a complex exhibits a cer-
tain property, the resulting complex must exhibit that property as well. But
while the argument underlying this objection may be fallacious, there clearly
are ways of parsing the "bundling" metaphor at work in traditional formula-
tions of the view which have just the consequences the first objection reads
into the bundle theory. If, for example, the bundle theorist tells us that an
ordinary object is a bundle of properties in the sense that it is to be identified
with the set of properties we associate with it, then it seems plausible to sup-
pose that his account forces us to construe substances as necessary existents.
It is unclear whether all sets are necessary beings; there are genuine grounds
for doubting whether a set at least one of whose members is a contingent
being is itself a necessary being. However, where a set is composed exclusively
of necessary beings, it is plaUSible to think that the set itself is necessary. But
if this is true, then the view that identifies an ordinary object with the set of
properties associated with it commits us to holding that ordinary objects are,
one and all, necessary beings. Ordinary objects, then, tum out to be both
ingenerable and incorruptible; and, furthermore, given any complete descrip-
tion of a possible substance in terms of its properties, the existence of a sub-
stance meeting that description would be a matter of necessity.l
Ukewise, if the bundle theorist tells us that ordinary objects are bundles
of properties in the sense that they are simply conjunctions of all the proper-
ties associated with them, he is forced to construe ordinary objects as neces-
sary beings. On this view, an ordinary object just is a property, an extremely
complex property formed from the conjunction of all the properties associated
121
122 CHAPTER SEVEN

with it. But clearly such a conjunctive property is no less necessary than the
properties that are its conjuncts. It is as ingenerable and incorruptible as each
of them is; and given any list of properties sufficiently determinate to gen-
erate the notion of a possible substance, it is necessarily true that there exists
some conjunctive property whose conjuncts are all and only the properties
entering into the list.
There are, then, ways of parsing the metaphor of "bundling" that have just
the consequences Objection I points to. They agree in that they explain the
metaphorical notion of a bundle of properties by reference to relations which
the properties supposedly constitutive of a substance necessarily bear to one
another. It is a necessary truth that the properties which, on the bundle
theory, constitute an ordinary object form a set or enter into a conjunctive
property. The difficulty, however, with the refutation of the bundle theory
proposed by Objection I is that no bundle theorists (at least none that I know
of) have explained the "bundling" metaphor in terms of relations of this sort.
Invariably, bundle theorists have explained the metaphor by reference to
some relation between properties which those properties only contingently
enter into. The later Russell, for example, appeals to the notion of compTe-
sence in parsing the "bundling" metaphor. As he explains it, compresence
is a relation which n-tuples of objects only contingently exemplify. Roughly
speaking, it is the relation of "occurring together;,,2 and as Russell charac-
terizes it, compresence is a relation which any two entities entering into the
constitution of one and the same substance bear to each other. But while he
says this, Russell refuses to provide a formal definition of compresence,
claiming that its fundamentality defies definition. It is a metaphysically
primitive relation which can, nonetheless, take on a variety of forms. In the
case of material objects, compresence takes the form of spatio-temporal coin-
cidence; whereas, in the case of mental substances, it appears as a psychologi-
cal relation logically independent of the concept of space. But regardless of
how it appears, compresence has an invariant consequence - that of making
a group of entities constituents of a single substance. 3
Where Russell speaks of compresence, D. C. Williams, another bundle
theorist, speaks of collocation, which he tells us is "the unique congress in the
same volume, which we call 'belonging to' (or inhering in, or characterizing)
the same thing.,,4 According to Williams, collocation is "the limiting value"
of a more general relation which he calls location; and location, he insists, is
"external" in the sense that a property "per se does not entail or determine
its location with respect to other" properties. s Herbert Hochberg, to mention
a third bundle theorist, parses the "bundling" metaphor in terms of the notion
THE BUNDLE THEOR Y 123

of combination, telling us that combination "combines qualities into things,,6


and that a complex formed by combination is not "a class or a collection of
universals but a number of universals connected by some structural tie or
relation, ontological glue as it were ;"7 and he repeatedly insists that this
"glue" is one which only contingently binds the universals it makes into
ordinary objects. Finally, the most recent defender of the bundle theory,
Hector-Neri Castaneda has invoked the relation of what he calls consubstan-
tiation or co-actuality in explaining the sense in which ordinary objects are
bundles of properties. The different properties constituting an ordinary
object bear to each other the relation of consubstantiation which is, he tells
us, "an aposteriori or contingent relation;" indeed, it is "the fundamental,
number one contingent relation."s
All four thinkers agree, then, in maintaining that the properties constitu-
tive of a substance enter into a relation they might have failed to exemplify;
and they further agree in holding that it is this relation, however it is labelled,
which guarantees the contingency of ordinary objects. Since it is only con-
tingently true that the properties constitutive of an ordinary object enter into
the relation in question, the whole they comprise is itself a merely contingent
being. Thus, they all agree is denying that there is any need to appeal to a
constituent which in itself a contingent being to guarantee the contingency of
ordinary objects. One can account for the contingency of substances exclu-
sively in terms of necessary beings - universals, provided one holds that one
of the necessary beings entering into the analysis of ordinary objects is a rela-
tion which the properties constitutive of the object only contingently bear to
one another.
Now, I am inclined to think that Russell, Williams, Hochberg, and Cas-
taneda are all correct here. If he construes the properties he takes to be
constitutive of an ordinary object as entering into a contingent relation, the
bundle theorist can adequately explain the contingency of ordinary objects.
He can explain their generability and corruptibility by pointing to the fact
that it is possible for the properties constitutive of an object to begin and
cease to enter into the relation in question; and he can explain why it is an
open question whether a complete description of a possible substance in
terms of properties is satisfied by pointing out that, given such a description,
it remains an open question whether the properties included in the descrip-
tion enter into the relationship which is "bundling". Objection I, then, fails
as a refutation of the bundle theory; one need not postulate contingent
beings - bare substrata - as constituents of ordinary objects to explain the
facts of their contingency.
124 CHAPTER SEVEN

II. IDENTITY AND CHANGE

Objection II seeks to derive the impossibility of identity through change from


the bundle theory. Roughly, the idea is that since change involves an altera-
tion in the properties associated with a substance, the bundle theorist must
hold that the bundle of properties which exists prior to a change is different
from the bundle of properties which results from a change and, consequently,
that the substance which enters into a change is numerically different from
the substance which emerges from it. Now, obviously there is an implicit
premise at work in this argument, one which tells us that it is impossible for
a substance, a, to be identical with a substance, b, if a and b have different
constituents. Formally, this principle can be expressed as follows:

(1) Necessarily, for any substance, a, and any substance, b, a is identi-


cal with b only if for any entity, c, C is a constituent of a if and
only if c is a constituent of b.

Given (1), the impossibility of identity through change follows immediately


from the bundle theory. The bundle theorist wants to insist that the con-
stituents of a substance are exhausted by its associated properties; but,
then, he is forced to hold that the substance which pre-exists a change has
a set of constituents distinct from those comprising the substance resulting
from the change; and, so, given (1), he must deny that the substances are
identical.
The difficulty with this reconstruction of Objection II, however, is that if
(1) entails the impossibility of change on the bundle theory, it has precisely
the same consequence for the substratum theory. The substratum theorist
does not want to deny that the properties associated with a substance are to
be counted among its constituents; he only wants to insist that they do not
exhaust its constituents. But, then, the substratum theorist too is forced to
grant that change always involves substances with different constituents and
so, by (1), numerically different objects.
But, in any case, (1) is false. If we are to persist in speaking of the proper-
ties of an object as its constituents, we should reject the view that diversity
of constituents entails diversity of substance; for if the properties of a sub-
stance are to be interpreted as its constituents, then since substances do
undergo changes, they can vary with respect to their constituents. This is not
to deny that there is a connection between constituent-identity and substan-
tial identity; there obviously is; but the way to bring out this connection is to
say that it is impossible for a substance, a, and a substance, b, to be numeri-
THE BUNDLE THEORY 125

cally identical if for some time, t, a and b have different constituents at t. Put
formally, this point is expressed as follows:
(2) Necessarily, for any substance, a, and any substance, b, a is iden-
tical with b only if for any time, t, and any entity, c, c is a con-
stituent of a at t if and only if c is a constituent of b at t.
It should be obvious, however, that if we reject (1) in favor of (2), Objection
II collapses; for so far from entailing the impossibility of identity through
change on the bundle theory, (2) provides the bundle theorist with a frame-
work for coherently characterizing the phenomenon of change.
Given (2), then, it is difficult to see why there should be any need to
appeal to bare substrata to explain identity through change. Indeed, I can
think of only one way that bare substrata might be thought to play an ex-
planatory role here. If one held, first, that it is possible for a substance to
remain identical through a change in all of its properties and, second, that it
is impossible for a substance to remain numerically identical over a period of
time unless there is at least one entity which persists as a constituent of that
substance throughout the period of time in question, then one might appeal
to bare substrata as the guarantors of substantial identity through the radical
changes just described. Nonetheless, it should be obvious that no substance
could, in fact, remain identical through a radical change of this sort. A sub-
stance existing at one time can be identical with a substance existing at an-
other time only if there is some minimal continuity in the properties asso-
ciated with each. Consequently, the single context in which bare substrata
might play a genuinely explanatory role here is one that never confronts the
ontologist.
I have argued that since (2) rather than (1) provides the correct account of
the relationship between constituent-identity and numerical identity, the
bundle theorist can handle identity through change. Ontologists favoring (1)
might, however, object to (2) on the grounds that it robs the constituent-
whole relation of any real substance. They might argue that since substances
just are complexes of their constituents, the constituent-whole relation can-
not be a merely contingent relation that is variable over time. That relation,
they might insist, must be such that where a is a substance and b, one of its
constituents, it is necessarily true that if a exists, b belongs to a.
I think that they would be wrong in so insisting; nonetheless, I want to
conclude this section by arguing that even if he accepts this "necessitarian"
interpretation of the constituent-whole relation, the bundle theorist is not
committed to maintaining any proposition that experience controverts. The
126 CHAPTER SEVEN

bundle theorist could agree that identity through change is impossible but
argue that there is a relation weaker than that of strict identity such that it is
possible for a bundle of properties entering into a change to bear that relation
to the bundle of properties emerging from the change. He might dub this
relation "sameness", for example, and insist that it is this relation rather than
that of strict identity which is really at work in the pre-philosophical truism
that objects can persist through change. Needless to say, he would owe us an
account of the difference between sameness and identity; but assuming that
such an account is forthcoming, the pre-philosophical truism could be sal-
vaged even on the bundle theory.
Thus, even if one wants (as I do not) to reject (2) in favor of the tougher
conception of the constituent-whole relation at work in (1), he need not fear
that that conception forces the bundle theorist to reject the pre-philosophical
notion of persistence through change; but, then, not only does Objection II
fail to establish the inescapability of a substratum ontology; it does not even
refute the bundle theory.

III. SUBJECT-PREDICATE DISCOURSE

As I stated it, Objection III is concerned with statements; but if we examine


the philosophical literature on substance, we find that as it is usually formu-
lated, Objection III bears on the status of certain sentence-types, those which
have the form 'a is P' where 'a' is the proper name of a substance and 'P', a
predicate-term expressing some property. The objection contends that while
sentences of this form are frequently both true and non-tautologous, the
bundle theorist is committed to the view that every true sentence of this form
is tautologous. But what is the source of this commitment? Presumably, it is
to be found in the view that it is impossible to know the bearer of a proper
name without being able to specify the various entities that are its constitu-
ents. Since the bundle theorist wants to claim that the constituents of a sub-
stance are exhausted by its properties, in his case, this view would take the
form of a stipulation to the effect, first, that where 'a' is the proper name of
a substance, there is a schema of the following form:
For any object, x, x is identical with a if and only if x is PI and
x is P2 and ... and x is Pn (where PI-Pn exhaust the properties
constituting x),
and, second, that grasping the truth of this schema is a necessary condition of
knowing just which substance bears the name 'a. But, then, given any true
THE BUNDLE THEORY 127

sentence of the form 'a is P', it is impossible to know which substance is the
referent of 'a' without knowing that the property expressed by 'P' can be
truly ascribed to that substance; and that is to say that all true sentences of
the form 'a is P' come out tautological on the bundle theory.
But just how is the defender of bare substrata able to avoid this difficulty?
Well, one way of characterizing his response to the objection is to think of
him as proposing a distinction between two different senses in which an
entity can be said to possess a property. There is the "loose and popular"
sense of property-possession; and in this sense, substances can be said to
possess properties; but there is also a "strict and philosophical" sense of
property-possession; and in this sense, it is only bare substrata that can func-
tion as the possessors of properties. Now, if we interpret the substratum theo-
rist's view in this way, we must say that on his account the general form 'a is
P' splits into two quite different forms. In the one case, 'a. is a placeholder
for the proper names of substances; in the other, 'a' can be supplanted exclu-
sively by names of bare substrata and 'is P' points to the "strict and philo-
sophical" sense in which a property can be ascribed to an object.
Now, it should be clear that the assumption which appears to make Objec-
tion III so devastating for the bundle theorist's interpretation of subject-
predicate discourse has precisely the same consequence for the substratum
theorist's interpretation of sentences in which we pick out a substance by its
proper name and invoke the "loose and popular" sense of property-possession
in ascribing a property to it. That assumption tells us that we can know which
substance a proper name takes as its referent only if we know in advance all
the constituents of that substance; but as we have already noted, even the
substratum theorist wants to number the properties of a substance among its
constituents, so that, given the assumption in question, he too is committed
to construing every true subject-predicate sentence whose subject-term refers
to a substance as tautologous.
The substratum theorist, of course, will grant this point. What he wants to
insist is that in those contexts where we have the "strict and philosophical"
sense of property-possession, we can have subject-predicate sentences that are
both true and non-tautologous. He holds that by postulating a constituent
within substance which neither is a property nor is constitued by properties,
he can accept the assumption in question while denying that the ascription of
properties to objects is invariably tautological.
But does the appeal the "strict and philosophical" sense of property-pos-
session really provide the substratum theorist with the resources for escaping
Objection III? Well, if it preserves the non-tautologous nature of true subject-
128 CHAPTER SEVEN

predicate sentences, it fails to do justice to the sentences whose non-tauto-


logousness we are most anxious to preserve; for the pre-philosophical truth
underlying Objection III bears on ordinary talk about ordinary objects and
not on the quite extraordinary talk at work in claims about bare substrata. But
can the substratum theorist even preserve the non-tautologousness of those
true subject-predicate sentences which involve a reference to bare substrata?
It is not, I think, difficult to convince oneself that he cannot. To see this, we
need only ask ourselves how, on this view, we are, when confronted with an
expression purportedly naming a bare substratum, to identify or pick out the
particular substratum which is its referent. It cannot be in terms of the pro-
perties that the object has in itself; for the substratum theorist tells us that
there are no such properties. 10 If the bare substratum in question is to be
identified, to be distinguished from other bare substrata, it can only be by
reference to the properties with which it is co-present. Now, we were told
that identifying a substance involves grasping all of its constituents; but, then,
it seems only reasonable to suppose that the ability to identify a bare substra-
tum presupposes grasping all of the properties with which it is co-present.
Unfortunately, since they represent the totality of properties that can be truly
predicated of the substratum, we seem to have the conclusion that even in the
case of bare substrata, subject-predicate sentences cannot be both true and
non-tautologous.
Thus, if Objection III refutes the bundle theory of substance, the substra-
tum theory succumbs to a parallel line of argument. But do we, in fact, have
anything like a refutation here? Well, that depends on whether the assump-.
tion we have been discussing is true. As a matter of fact, that assumption can
be treated as a pair of assumptions. The first (I shall call it (a is the view
that a necessary condition of knowing which substance is the referent of a
proper name is the ability to specify a set of entities all of which are consti-
tuents of that substance and which, taken together, uniquely determine that
substance. The second assumption (13) is the view that the set of entities
necessary for uniquely determining a substance is simply the set composed of
all the entities entering into its constitution.
Objection III contends that if he accepts both (a) and (13), the bundle theo-
rist is committed to denying that any true sentence in which we attribute a
property to a substance is non-tautologous. Let us accept this contention for
the moment and ask whether the bundle theorist must accept both (a) and
(13). It seems to me that if he accepts (a), the bundle theorist need not accept
(13); for if it is true that the ability to fix the reference of a proper name pre-
supposes the ability to specify a set of constituents of the bearer of that name
THE BUNDLE THEOR Y 129

which, taken together, are sufficient to pick out that object uniquely, there is
no a priori reason for supposing that the set of constituents underlying the
use of a proper name should be more than a proper sub-set of the entities
which constitute the bearer of that name. Quite consistently with (Q), then,
the bundle theorist could maintain that not all true sentences of the form 'a
is P' are tautologous. He could, in conformity with the assumption just noted,
agree that where a sentence of this form has as its predicate a term expressing
some property from the set of constituents required for identifying the sub-
stance which is the referent of the subject-term in question, the result is a
tautologous sentence; but he could hold that there are properties (those not
belonging to that set) which can be truly yet non-tautologously predicated
of the substance.
But is it true, as the proponent of Objection III insists, that (Q) commits
one to the view that none of the properties involved in fixing the reference
of a proper name can be truly yet non-tautologously predicated in subject-
predicate sentences whose subject-term is the proper name in question?
Well, one might argue that this is so only if it is true that for each proper
name, there is a single set of properties to which anyone capable of using
the name must appeal in fixing its reference. But the bundle theorist who
accepts (Q) could deny that this is the case. He could argue that for each
substance, there is a variety of such individuating constituent-sets. Anyone
of those sets, he could hold, would be sufficient for fIXing the reference of
the proper name of a substance; but, then, he could deny that a property's
belonging to one of the individuating constituent-sets for a particular proper
name entails that a predicate-term expressing that property can only be
predicated tautologously in a subject-predicate sentence whose subject-term
is the proper name in question. The point would be that while the property,
in conjunction with other properties, is sufficient for fixing the reference of a
proper name, the reference of that name could be fixed independently of the
appeal to that property - in terms of an individuating constituent-set not
including the property. Indeed, a bundle theorist accepting this version of
(Q) could maintain that only those properties which must enter into every
individuating constituent-set for a substance are predicated tautologously ,)f
that substance.
In any case, some bundle theorists have denied that (Q) is true. Thus,
the later Russell holds that as proper names function in human languages,
it is possible to apprehend a whole, to give that whole a name, and to use
that name successfully in referring to the whole without knowing any of
the entities that are its constituents.ll Russell's view that the use of proper
130 CHAPTER SEVEN

names is not grounded in the sort of individuating knowledge implicit in


the endorsement of (0:) is supported by a contemporary view known as
the causal theory of names. On this view, an individual's ability to use a
proper name to refer to an object is not grounded in descriptively indivi-
duating knowledge he has about the referent of that name, but in the fact
that the speaker stands in some relation to an historical chain that ulti-
mately terminates in a baptismal situation in which some individual, in
direct causal interaction with an object, confers a name upon it.l2 But
whether or not the bundle theorist would endorse the causal account of
the reference of proper names, it should be clear that if, like Russell, he
rejects (0:), he has a ready answer to the proponent of Objection III. Since
he denies that the use of a proper name is grounded in any knowledge of
the properties constitutive of the bearer of the name, he can deny that any
sentence in which a proper name of a substance is subject-term and a gen-
eral term expressing a property constitutive of that substance, predicate is
tautologous.
There are, then, at least three different ways a bundle theorist can handle
Objection III. Endorsing a strong version of (0:), according to which there is
a single constituent-set for individuating the bearer of a proper name, the
bundle theorist can reject ((3) and thereby provide logical space for some,
perhaps many, true yet non-tautologous subject-predicate sentences. Or he
could accept the weaker version of (0:) outlined above and hold that even
some of the properties used to individuate a substance can be truly yet non-
tautologously predicated of it. Finally, he could reject all versions of (0:) and
insist that none of the true subject-predicate sentences by which we predicate
properties of substances are tautologous.
I do not wish to commit myself by endorsing anyone of these accounts;
but I think that all three are preferable to the account of names which under-
lies Objection III. The proponent of Objection III accepts both (0:) and ((3);
but the conjunction of these two claims represents an obviously unsatisfac-
tory account of our ability to use proper names. What the conjunction of (0:)
and ({3) commits one to is the preposterous view that a speaker can success-
fully use a proper name to refer to its bearer only if he has a complete knowl-
edge of its ontological structure. It is obvious, however, that one can success-
fully employ proper names in identifying their referents even though he is in
the dark about many of their properties. Objection III, then, not only fails to
establish the inescapability of a substratum ontology; since it is based on an
erroneous picture of proper names, it also fails as a refutation of the bundle
theory of substance.
THE BUNDLE THEORY 131

IV. THE IDENTITY OF INDISCERNIBLES

The discussion of the previous section, especially the discussion of individuat-


ing constituent-sets, leads naturally to a discussion of Objection IV, according
to which the bundle theory is inadequate since it commits us to the Identity
of Indiscernibles. That the bundle theorist is committed to the truth of the
Identity of Indiscernibles becomes clear when we reflect on the fact that it is
necessarily true that if a substance, a, and a substance, b, incorporate all and
only the same constituents, a and b are identical. I shall call this claim the
Principle of Constituent Identity and shall state it as follows:

Necessarily, for any substance, a, and any substance, b, if, for any
entity, c, c is a constituent of a if and only if c is a constituent of
b, then a is identical with b. 13

Now, the bundle theorist wants to claim that it is necessarily true that the
constituents of substances are exhausted by their properties; but this claim, in
conjunction with the Principle of Constituent Identity, entails the Identity of
Indiscernibles, the claim that it is impossible for distinct substances to have
all and only the same properties. Expressed formally, the Identity of Indis-
cernibles goes as follows:

(II) Necessarily, for any substance, a, and any substance, b, if for any
property, P, P is an attribute of a if and only if P is an attribute of
b, then a is identical with b.

The proponent of Objection IV, however, insists that this principle is false;
and so concludes that the conjunction of the bundle theory of substance and
the Principle of Constituent Identity is false; he insists, however, that the
Principle of Constituent Identity is true and so concludes that objects are not
constituted exclusively by their properties.
Now, there are bundle theorists who can accept the Identity of Indiscerni-
bles with the greatest equanimity. I am thinking of bundle theorists who, like
Berkeley, Hume, and D. C. Williams, interpret properties in strictly nomi-
nalistic terms. 14 They maintain that it is impossible for different substances
(neither of which is a constituent of the other) to have literally one and the
same constituent. On their view, while different substances can have proper-
ties that are exactly similar, it is necessarily true that no two substances have
what is literally a Single property. But since they hold that no two substances
can literally share even a single property, bundle theorists of this persuasion
132 CHAPTER SEVEN

can hardly be expected to find the claim that different substances cannot
share all their properties problematic.
Effectively, these nominalistic bundle theorists want to claim that where
substances have what in ordinary parlance we call "the same property", they
do not incorporate a property that is literally identical; consequently, they
respond to Objection IV by claiming that if it is, in fact, possible that there
be distinct substances which, in ordinary parlance, agree in all their properties,
this would not falsify the Identity of Indiscernibles. We have seen, however,
that a nominalistic interpretation of property-agreement is unacceptable.
Where objects exhibit the phenomenon of property-agreement, they exem-
plify what is literally the same property. But, then, since a realistic inter-
pretation of the pre-philosophical fact of property-agreement is correct, the
possibility of distinct substances agreeing in all their properties would falsify
the Identity of Indiscernibles. The proponent of Objection IV, however,
argues that it is possible for distinct objects to agree in all their properties and
concludes that since the Principle of Constituent Identity is true, the bundle
theorist's interpretation of substances as bundles of compresent or consub-
stantial properties is false.
The difficulty with this attempted refutation of the bundle theory, how-
ever, is that (II) is arguably true. Thus, one might argue that given any sub-
stance, a, there is a property ex.emplified by a and by nothing other than a,
vis., the property of being identical with a; but, if this is correct, then it
trivially follows that associated with each substance there is a set of properties
such that it is impossible for any substance distinct from it to exemplify all
of the properties in the set. But even if one is suspicious of Leibnizian proper-
ties like those of being identical with Plato and being identical with Socrates,
one could still make a plausible case for the truth of (II) by appealing to pro-
perties which determine the spatio-temporal location of substances; for it
plausible to think that it is a necessary truth that one and only one material
body or person can wholly and completely occupy a given region of space at
a given time. IS But, then, in virtue of occupying a particular region of space
at a particular time, each substance would seem to have a set of properties
exemplified by no other substance; so that contrary to Objection IV, the
truth of (II) would seem to be non-problematic for the bundle theorist.
But is (II) as strong a principle as the bundle theorist is committed to? I
think not. To appreciate this, we need only reflect on the distinction between
what I shall call impure and pure properties. Impure properties are properties
(like being married to Henry VIII and being a student of Socrates) which
"incorporate" at least one determinate substance; whereas, pure properties
THE BUNDLE THEORY 133

are properties (like redness and wisdom) which do not. This distinction corre-
sponds to Strawson's distinction between "universals-cum-particulars" and OT-
dinary universals; and it is roughly what other philosophers have had in mind
when they have constrasted relational properties with non-relational proper-
ties. I have so far explained the distinction in metaphorical terms, speaking of
properties as "incorporating" or not "incorporating" substances. We can ex-
plain the distinction more precisely if we say that a property, P, is impure just
in case there is some relation, R, and some substance, s, such that necessarily,
for any object, x, x exemplifies P if and only if x enters into R with s and that
a property, P, is pure just in case P is not impure. We can see how this account
of the distinction operates if we consider the properties I have used as exam-
ples. Corresponding to the property, being married to Henry VIII, there is the
relation, being married to, and the substance, Henry VIII; and it is necessarily
true that an object exemplifies being married to Henry VIII if and only if she
bears that relation to that substance; consequently, being married to Henry
VIII is an impure property. Likewise, corresponding to the property, being a
student of Socrates, there is the relation, being a student of, and a substance,
Socrates, and since it is necessarily the case that an object exemplifies being a
student of Socrates if and only if he/she bears that relation to that substance,
being a student of Socrates is an impure property. But in the case of neither
wisdom nor redness is it possible to identify a relation R, and a substance, s,
such that necessarily, an object exemplifies either redness or wisdom if and
only if it bears R to s, so that redness and wisdom are both pure properties.
Invoking this distinction, we can say that the bundle theorist is committed to
the claim that no two substances can share all their pure properties.
The bundle theorist wants to maintain that substances are derived entities.
On his account, particular substances do not comprise the basic entities or
"simples" in our ontology; the basic items, he is saying, are properties. Sub-
stances are complexes "built out of" these primitives. But if this reductionistic
approach to substance is not to be a sham, the constituents out of which
substances are supposed to be constructed or built cannot already incorporate
the complexes they constitute. 16 Impure properties, however, all incorporate
determinate particulars and so they cannot be numbered among the "building
blocks" out of which particular substances are constituted. But, then, the
bundle theorist is not just committed to (II), but to the stronger principle

(II) Necessarily, for any substance, a, and any substance, b, if for any
pure property, P, P is an attribute of a if and only if P is an attri-
bute of b, then a is identical with b.
134 CHAPTER SEVEN

It should be clear, however, that one cannot appeal to identity-properties


like being identical with Plato in defending (11*); for properties of this sort
are blatantly impure. But neither will the fact that every substance has a uni-
que position in space-time provide the bundle theorist with properties that
will serve to verify (11*); for since spatio-temporallocation is relational, the
properties determining the spatio-temporal location of substances are all
impure. They are properties (like being six miles north of the Acropolis and
occurring three years after the Fall of Rome) which incorporate some deter-
minate particular. 17 But, then, (11*) is falsified if it is possible for substances
occupying different regions of space-time to share all their pure properties.
Now, it may be that no two substances have, in fact, ever exhibited precisely
the same set of pure properties; but it should be clear that this is a merely
contingent fact. It clearly is possible for different substances to have the same
color, weight, size, shape, texture, and so on; but since the qualitative indis-
cernibility of substances in different regions of space-time is possible, (11*) is
false, so that while what has traditionally been called the Identity of Indis-
cernibles (my (II)) may be true, the related, yet stronger (11*), to which the
bundle theorist is also committed, is false. But, then, unlike its predecessors,
Objection IV presents us with an argument that appears successful in refuting
the bundle theory of substance.

V. RUSSELL'S WAY OUT

Now, bundle theorists have been sensitive to this version of Objection IV.
Indeed, in My Philosophical Development, the later Russell, a paradigmatic
bundle theorist, tells us that it was just this objection that had earlier con-
vinced him of the inadequacy of the bundle theory;lS and even a quick read-
ing of his early paper "On the Relations of Universals and Particulars" con-
firms the centrality of this objection in Russell's early theory of substance.
It is, he tells there, "obviously logically possible that they (sc. numerically
different substances occupying different regions of space-time) should have
no intrinsic differences whatsoever;" they can be "wholly indistinguishable as
to predicates;" consequently, "the bundle of coexisting qualities in the same
place is not an admissible substitute for the thing.,,19
In his later writings, however, Russell contends that this line of argument
fails as a refutation of the bundle theory. The contention there is that what I
have called Objection IV goes wrong in failing to distinguish between physical
space and physical time, on the one hand, and perceptual space and percep-
tual time, on the other. 2o The space and time of the physicist, he argues, are
THE BUNDLE THEORY 135

both relational, so that position in physical space-time is determined by what


I have called impure properties. Thus, if what the bundle theorist is after is an
account of substances located within the spatio-temporal framework of
physics, what I have called Objection IV is decisive. Russell apparently wants
to claim, however, that it is the concept of substance as it exhibits itself with-
in the world of perceptual experience that the bundle theorist seeks (or
should seek) to understand; and those substances, he claims, are not in physi-
cal space and time. They occupy positions in perceptual space and perceptual
time; and Russell insists that location within the framework of perceptual
space-time is determined exclusively by pure properties. But, then, where the
substances which are supposedly of concern to the bundle theorist occupy
different regions of space and time, their occupying those different regions in
itself guarantees a difference in pure properties, so that (II*) is not falsified in
the case of substances in the world available to perception.
Now, even if one both understands and accepts Russell's bifurcation of the
perceptual and the physical worlds, he is likely to be suspicious of Russell's
rather cavalier dismissal of ontological problems as they arise within the con-
text of the physical world. Doesn't the ontologist owe us an account of the
concept of substance as it is exhibited within the spatio-temporal framework
available to the physicist? And won't the bundle theory founder when it
attempts to provide us with that account? These questions are never answered
very clearly; the later Russell seems content to have a response to Objection
IV as it bears on perceptual substances. His stance vis-a-vis ontological ques-
tions focusing on the objects of concern to the physicist is avowedly agnostic.
"What can be said about the purely physical world," he tells us, "is hypo-
thetical. ,,21
But even if we accept Russell's unwillingness to pursue the concept of sub-
stance within the framework available to the physicist, we are likely to de-
mand that his defense against Objection IV be spelled out. Just how is it that
position in perceptual space and time is determined exclusively by pure
properties? Russell is perhaps his own best apologist here. Explaining the
point in the case of space, he says,

As regards the sensible world, it is clear on reflection that position in experienced space
is not relative, like the space of physics. In my momentary visual field, position is de-
rmed by qualities. What is in the centre of the field of vision has a quality that we may
call 'centrality'. Everything else that I am seeing at the moment has various degrees of
two qualities: up-and-down and right-and left. 22

Later he explains the point in the case of time, saying:


136 CHAPTER SEVEN

I applied similar considerations to order in time. Suppose that some quality occurs twice
over in one man's experience, as, for example, when a clock is striking the hour. What is
it that makes you recognize two strokes as two, and not as one thing repeated? I came
to the conclusion that this recognition depends upon a quality which we may call 'sub-
jective pastness'. The contents of my mind, in so far as they are concerned with experi-
enced occurrences, can be arranged in a series beginning with sensation, going on to
akoluthic sensation, thence to immediate memory, and thence to memories having a
quality of more or less distance from present sensation. In this way, a subjective time
series is generated consisting of items which, from an objective point of view, are all
now. 23

What Russell is suggesting here is that since the spatio-temporal position of


a perceptual substance is determined independently of its relation to other
perceptual substances, it is possible to identify the location of a substance in
perceptual space-time exclusively by .reference to what I have called pure
properties. But is this actually possible? Let us keep to Russell's example of
visual space. Let us suppose that at the center of my visual field there now
exists an object having the properties PI, ... , Pn , where PI . .. Pn are all the
pure properties of the substance which do not involve any reference to its
spatio-temporallocation. By Russell's own admission, we do not provide a list
of properties that necessarily constitute just one object by listing P lo Pn.
Other objects in other regions of space and time can exhibit precisely those
properties. Russell wants to claim, however, that if we add to PI, ... Pn the
properties of being central to a visual field and being simultaneous with sensa-
tion, we will have a list which, while composed exclusively of pure properties,
is individuating in the sense that it is impossible that more than one object
exemplify all the properties in the list.
But is Russell right in this suggestion? Does the addition of these two pro-
perties make the list Plo , Pn individuating in the sense just identified? I
think not. The expanded list is individuating only if it is necessarily true both
that my visual field is the only visual field and that my present sensation is
the only sensation that ever occurs; for given the necessary truth of these two
claims, the list composed of PI, ... , Pn along with both being central to a
visual field and being simultaneous with sensation is indeed individuating in
the sense outlined. But, of course, neither claim is true, let alone necessarily
true. There are visual fields other than my own, and there are acts of sensa-
tion other than those I am now undergoing. Thus, the addition of the two
properties in question does not make the list PI, .. . ,Pn individuating. Just as
it is possible that there be another substance incorporating all of Plo , Pn ,
it is possible that such a substance now be in the center of someone else's
visual field.
THE BUNDLE THEORY 137

We could, of course, make Ph ... , Pn individuating by adding to that list


not the properties being central to a visual field and being simultaneous with
sensation, but rather the properties of being central to my visual field and
being simultaneous with my present sensation. While it is individuating, how
ever, the list is no longer one composed exclusively of pure properties. The
properties required to make the list individuating incorporate a non-eliminable
reference to a particular substance (a reference to me), so that their capacity
to make the list in question individuating can be of no consolation to the
philosopher whose aim is the defense of (II").
Thus, either position in the framework of perceptual space-time is specified
in terms of pure properties, in which case it does not serve as a principle of
individuation for perceptual substances; or perceptual space-time provides us
with such a principle, in which case the identification of position within that
framework requires an appeal to impure properties. In neither case, however,
does the appeal to the concepts of a uniquely perceptual space and time
provide Russell with the resources for handling Objection IV. Even fortified
with the distinction between physical and perceptual space and time, Russell
cannot convert (II") into a necessary truth, so that Objection IV maintains its
integrity as a refutation of the bundle theory of substance.

NOTES

1 This issue is discussed in Herbert Hochberg's 'Things and Descriptions' American


Philosophical Quarterly, 1966, pp. 39-40.
2 Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits (London: George Allen & Unwin), 1948,
pp.312-317.
3 Ibid., p. 312.
4 'Elements of Being, I,' p. 7.
5 Ibid.
6 'Universals, Particulars, and Predication,' Review of Metaphysics, 1960, p. 87.
7 'Things and Qualities' in Metaphysics and Expll1nation, ed. by Capitan and Merrill
(Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburg Press), 1964, p. 84.
8 'Thinking and the Structure of the World,' Philosophia, 1974, pp. 3-40.
9 Frequently, what I have called Objection III is formulated in terms of the notion of
analyticity. The objection is that, on the bundle theory, all true property-attributions
come out analytic. I speak of tautologousness here rather than analyticity because, as I
understand the notion of an analytic sentence or proposition, anything that is analytic
is necessarily true. Pretty clearly, tltough, the contingency of individual substances
makes it incoherent to speak of ordinary property-attributions as necessary truths.
10 In Chapter Eight, I shall argue that the substratum theorist is wrong here; but it turns
out that the properties substrata have in themselves are not sufficient to enable the speaker
of a language to fIX the reference of the proper names of substrata in a non-circular way.
138 CHAPTER SEVEN

11 Inquiry, pp. 315-321.


12 See, e.g., Kripke's 'Naming and Necessity,' p. 298-303.
13 I do not build any reference to time into the Principle of Constituent Identity be-
cause one of the main issues involved in evaluating the bundle theory is the question of
whether the bundle theorist can legitimately invoke properties relating to time in his
account of the constitution of substances.
14 For Williams' position, see once again 'The Elemel!ts of Being, I.'
15 As a result of Max Black's famous paper, 'The Identity of Indiscernibles,' Mind,
1952, it has become fashionable to think that this fact does not verify (II). Black tries to
show, by reference to an imagined radially symmetrical universe whose only occupants
are two "indiscernible" spheres, that the fact that objects have different spatial locations
does not entail that they differ in their properties. It seems to me, however, that his
example does not establish this; for each of his spheres do exemplify different properties
(i.e., properties of the form lying at such and such a distance from _ _ ). All that
Black's example shows is that, given his description of this universe, it is impossible for
us to name the spheres and thereby name the properties in virtue of which they differ.
16 To be precise, it is not necessary that this be true for every substance; all that is
required is that there be some substances (a sufficient number to constitute a spatio-
temporal framework) whose constituents are all pure; all the remaining substances could
incorporate among their constituents impure properties "built out" of the favored sub-
stances. Nonetheless, the general argument I present here applies in the case of the sub-
stances which the bundle theorist who takes this line chooses as favored.
17 I am simply assuming that my reader is unwilling to endorse a theory of absolute
space and absolute time. If I am wrong here, I would respond not by appealing to famil-
iar difficulties in the absolutist theory, but rather by arguing that no ontologist who
finds the notion of a bare particular objectionable could consistently embrace a theory
of absolute space and absolute time. It is true that on the absolutist theory there are
pure universals which serve to determine uniquely the spatio-temporal position of each
material body and person; but those universals have that capacity only in virtue of the
existence of absolute spatial points and absolute temporal moments. The points and
moments of the absolute theory are, however, ontologically on a par with bare particu-
lars. As we have seen, Bergmann tells us that bare particulars have two features; (1) they
do not differ intrinsically, and (2) they cannot be in more than one substance. But in the
same way, (1) no two moments differ intrinsically, nor do two points; and (2) it is a
necessary truth that only one thing can be at a given point at a given time. But, then, any
philosopher who is willing to endorse an absolute theory of space and time could have
no genuine grounds for objecting to an ontology of bare substrata. Indeed, on grounds of
theoretical simplicity, he ought to accept an ontology of bare substrata rather than an
ontology of pure instants and pure points; for on the absolutist's account, individuation
presupposes two things, a point and a moment; but on the substratum theory, only one
thing is required here. In the last section of Chapter VIII, I argue that bare particulars
fail to provide a non-regressive solution to the problem of individuation; the same form
of argument can be used to show that absolute moments and absolute points fail to
resolve the problem. In the next section of this chapter, I consider one attempt - that
of the later Russell - to salvage the advantages of an absolute theory without embracing
an ontology of pure moments and pure points. I argue that it fails.
18 My Philosophical Development, pp. 160-162.
THE BUNDLE THEORY 139

19 'On the Relations of Universals and Particulars,' Proceedings of the Aristotelian


Society, 1911-1912. Reprinted in Logic and Knowledge, ed. by R. C. Marsh (London:
Allen and Univen), 1956, p. 118.
20 Human Knowledge, p. 317 and p. 344.
21 Ibid., p. 296.
22 My Philosophical Development, p. 162.
23 Ibid., pp. 163-164.
CHAPTER EIGHT

BARE SUBSTRATA

I. THE INTRODUCTION OF BARE SUBSTRATA

Objection IV, then, presents us with a powerful argument against the bundle
theory of substance. Since it is possible for different substances to be qualita-
tively indiscernible, the bundle theorist's attempt to construe substances as
wholes whose constituents are exclusively properties breaks down. But Objec-
tion IV is not meant merely as a refutation of the bundle theory; as we saw in
Chapter Six, it presents itself as well as an argument establishing the inescapa-
bility of a substratum ontology. It should now be clear how the objection can
play that role. The Principle of Constituent Identity tells us that indiscerni-
bility with respect to constituents entails numerical identity; but, then, since
it is possible for different substances to be indiscernible with respect to their
pure properties, each substance must incorporate a constituent over and
above its pure properties. Since, however, the aim is to specify the constitu-
ents out of which substances are composed, the additional entity cannot be
anything which presupposes the wholes that are substances; it cannot, then,
be an impure property. But since we have set the properties of a substance
(both pure and impure) on the one side and this additional entity on the
other, the constituent of a substance that guarantees its individuation must
be something such that its existence is independent of the properties with
which it is co-present; its being whatever it is cannot involve any of those pro-
perties. But this would seem to be just the characterization that holds of bare
substrata. Given the Principle of Constituent Identity, then, the possibility of
qualitatively indiscernible substances seems to force us to hold that in addi-
tion to their properties substances are constituted by pure individuators, bare
substrata.
Now, if we look at the work of contemporary defenders of substratum
ontologies, we find that the above line of argument accurately represents the
way in which bare substrata are introduced into the ontological arena. Thus,
we find Gustav Bergmann arguing as follows:
Let a and b be two spots of exactly the same shape and exactly the same color; tal & a2l
and [b 1 & b 2l the two classes (pairs) of qualities "in" them. Call the nexus again V. Assume
again that each spot has exactly three constituents. Then the assay of a yields al and a2

140
BARE SUBSTRATA 141

connected by V and nothing else; and that of b, bl and b2 connected by V and nothing
else. That presents us with the following alternative. (1) If we choose realism, the qualities
in the case are universals. Hence, the properties being exactly the same, al is literally the
same as b l ; a2 literally the same as b 2. Hence, by the fundamental principle, if each spot
had only the three constituents, a and b would be one and not two. Each spot, therefore,
must have at least one further constituent; and these further constituents must not be
literally the same. (2) If we choose nominalism, then al and bl> though perhaps exactly
alike, whatever that may mean, are not literally the same. Similarly, for a2 and b 2. In
strict logic, a nominalist is therefore ... not forced to search for further constituents. I

Bergmann is presenting us with a case of qualitatively indiscernible things;


and he is arguing that such a case presents the realist with a problem that does
not arise for the nominalist. Since the realist takes the properties of indis-
cernible things as well as the nexus connecting them to be literally the same,
what Bergmann calls the "fundamental principle" forces the realist to grant
that indiscernible things incorporate constituents over and above their pro-
perties and the nexus connecting those properties - constituents that explain
the numerical diversity of the indiscernible things. Bergmann tells us that the
"fundamental principle" is to be stated as follows:
"Two" entities yielding literally the same assay are literally or, as one says, numerically
one and not two;2

and as Bergmann explains it, to provide an "assay" of an object is to specify


all and only the entities that are its constituents. 3 But, then, his "fundamental
principle" is just my Principle of Constituent Identity, so that what Bergmann
is claiming is that the Principle of Constituent Identity commits the realist to
the view that ordinary things incorporate an entity, a constituent that cannot
enter into the "assay" of any other object. Bergmann, however, repeatedly
argues that nominalism is an inadequate account of property-agreement; and
since he holds that given any ordinary thing, the possibility of there being
another thing qualitatively indiscernible from it always exists, he feels com-
pelled to hold that every ordinary thing incorporates a constituent over and
above its properties. He calls this additional constituent a "bare particular"
and tells us that the notion of a bare particular
has two parts. Bare particulars neither are nor have natures. Any two of them are not
intrinsically but only numerically different. That is their bareness. It is impossible for a
bare particular to be "in" more than one ordinary thing. 4

Thus, Bergmann attempts to establish the need for what I have called bare
substrata and what he calls bare particulars by appealing to a line of reasoning
essentially the same as my Objection IV. We have seen, however, that Objec-
142 CHAPTER EIGHT

tions I-III also attempt to specify ontological jobs which only bare substrata
can perform. Objecton I argues that we must appeal to bare substrata in ex-
plaining the contingency of ordinary objects. Bergmann, however, seems
unwilling to attribute this role to bare particulars. He tells us that there is a
nexus that ties together the various constituents of an object; and he insists
that this nexus is one into which those constituents might have failed to
enter. Presumably, then, it is this nexus rather than the bare particular which
enters into it that grounds the contingency of an ordinary object. 5
Objection II, on the other hand, points to the need for bare substrata as
the principles of continuity or permanence in changing substances. Bergmann,
however, denies that bare particulars are continuants. 6 He wants to deny that
each of the things I have called substances - familiar material bodies and
persons - incorporates a single bare particular. On the contrary, he argues
that bare particulars enter into the constitution of more primitive entities -
things like phenomenal spots and cubes. Ordinary material bodies and persons
are constructions out of these more primitive entities; and the primitive en-
tities out of which they are composed are, for Bergmann, momentary entities
that cannot persist through change. Any change in a momentary object like
one of the spots referred to above involves the "corruption" of that entity;
its bare particular is replaced by another, and we have a new object.'
But while Bergmann is unwilling to construe his bare particulars as princi-
ples of contingency and permanence, he does see them as playing the role
assigned them by Objection III. Bare particulars are the literal exemplifiers
or possessors of the properties with which they are co-present. Thus, it is the
bare particular that is "in" a phenomenal spot which is the literal possessor of
the properties which, together with it, constitute that spot. As Bergmann puts
it, bare particulars are the referents of the subject-terms and the properties
co-present with them, the referents of the predicate-terms of true subject-
predicate sentences. Bergmann, then, wants to attribute two roles to bare
particulars: they are the guarantors of the numerical diversity of objects as
well as the literal exemplifiers of the properties we associate with those ob-
jects. Now, it should be clear that these are two distinct roles. 8 Sometimes
Bergmann fails to keep this fact in mind. Consider, for example, the following
passage:

I look at two cubes. Assume that they are alike in all non-relational respects. For in-
stance, they are both (the same shade ot) green. Assume, furthermore, that while looking
at these two cubes, I make two judgments, 'This is green' and 'That is green'. In one way
these judgments differ; in another, they agree. In the two statements, the difference is
expressed by the occurrence of different words, 'this' and 'that', in the subject-place; the
BARE SUBSTRATA 143

agreement, by the occurrence of the same word 'green' in the predicate-place. For the
judgments to be grounded, both the difference and the agreement must be grounded in
the two states of affairs that are judged. How, then, are they grounded? One possible
answer has four parts. (1) Each of the two situations contains two constituents. (2)
There are altogether three constituents named by 'this', 'that', and 'green' respectively.
The constituents named by 'this' and 'that' are called particulars; the one named by
'green' a universal. (3) The universal, which is the constituent common to both situations
accounts for my judging both cubes to be green. (4) The two particulars' being different
accounts for my knowing the cubes from each other. 9

This passage is meant to introduce bare particulars as the entities ground-


ing the possible existence of different objects which agree in all their non-
relational universals; but the dialectic underlying the introduction of bare
particulars as individuators gets tangled up with the idea that bare particulars
are required to provide us with referents for the subject-terms of subject-
predicate sentences. The assumption would seem to be that one and the same
object must play the two distinct roles of individuator and ultimate subject
of predication. There is, however, no a priori reason for thinking that this is
so. That to which we ascribe the properties constitutive of an ordinary object
need not be the constituent of that object which guarantees its numerical
diversity from other objects. Indeed, as we have seen, it could be just the
complex or whole - the object itself - to which we ascribe properties. But
while occasionally Bergmann confuses the problem of individuation with the
problem of specifying a subject for the properties associated with ordinary
objects, he usually keeps them separate. He seems to hold that bare particu-
lars are to be introduced as individuators, as entities invoked to resolve the
problematic stemming from Objection IV, and then subsequently identified
with the ultimate subjects of predication.

II. EMPIRICISM AND BARE SUBSTRATA

But whatever we may think of the subsequent claim that bare particulars are
the literal exemplifiers of the properties with which they are co-present,
reflection on the phenomenon of indiscernible yet diverse objects clearly
makes Bergmann's appeal to bare substrata appear attractive. What we must
determine, then, is whether the persistent criticisms of substratum ontologies
have any real force. As we have seen, the most relentless critics of bare sub-
strata have been philosophers of an empiricist termperament. Now, Bergmann
and his followers all claim to subscribe to the basic tenets of empiricist epis-
temology and, accordingly, are anxious to show that the appeal to bare sub-
strata does not violate any restrictions imposed on the ontologist by the
144 CHAPTER EIGHT

acceptance of an empiricist theory of knowledge. Typically, the empiricist


attacks bare substrata on the grounds that they represent unknowable ontol-
ogical posits. In a paper defending Bergmann's appeal to bare substrata, Edwin
Allaire argues that such attacks are misplaced. Allaire insists that we distin-
guish between two uses of 'to know':

First, there is the use of 'know' in which to know something is to be acquainted with it.
Second, there is the use in which to know something means to be able to recognize it. IO

Now, Allaire concedes that in the second sense of 'to know', bare particulars
are unknowable. Since bare particulars do not differ intrinsically, but only
numerically, it is impossible, when presented with a bare particular, to deter-
mine whether it is a bare particular encountered on some earlier occasion.
But towards showing us that bare particulars are knowable in the first sense,
Allaire asks us to reflect on two discs that are qualitatively indiscernible:

Consider once more the two discs. When presented together, they are presented as
numerically different That difference is presented as is their sameness with respect to
shape, (shade 00 color, and so on. What accounts for that difference are the numerically
different individuals. No character nor group of characters can do that. Thus, to say that
they are individuals is to say that things may be merely numerically different. No matter
what description one proposes, the numerical difference of two things which are alike in
all (nonrelational) respects must be accounted for ... To claim that both discs are collec-
tions of literally the same universals does not account for the thimess and thatness which
are implicitly referred to in speaking of them as two collections. That is, the two collec-
tions of characters - if one persists in speaking that way - are, as presented, numerically
different. Clearly, therefore, something other than a character must also be presented.
That something is what proponents of the realistic analysis call a bare particular. I I

The suggestion here, then, is that in being acquainted with the numerically
different, yet indiscernible objects, we are eo ipso acquainted with the en-
tities which guarantee their numerical diversity. But, then, in the first sense of
'to know', bare particulars are knowable. It turns out, however, that this is
just the sense of 'to know' that is at work in the empiricist injunction against
introducing unknowables; for according to Allaire, the empiricist approach to
ontology is expressed in what he (like Herbert Hochberg) calls the Principle
of Acquaintance (PA). He formulates this prinCiple as follows:

The PA states that the undefinable terms of any "ontological" description must refer to
entities with which one is directly acquainted. 12

Now, even if we accept Allaire's characterization of the empiricist ap-


proach to ontology, it is difficult not to be suspicious of his contention that
BARE SUBSTRATA 145

acquaintance with qualitatively indiscernible yet qualitatively diverse objects


involves direct acquaintance with bare particulars. The contention here is that
the appeal to bare particulars can be defended on phenomenological grounds
alone; but if this is so, then why is it that the existence of bare substrata has
been a matter of such heated debate? Is it merely that some philosopher::;
have failed to notice what was before their eyes all the time? And why have
substratum theorists gone to such trouble in presenting arguments for the
inescapability of a substratum ontology? In being presented with a pair of
qualitatively indiscernible objects, we are, if one chooses to speak this way,
presented with their numerical diversity; but it does not follow that we are
thereby directly acquainted with those constituents in the objects which
secure their numerical diversity. In another paper, Allaire defends his view
that we are acquainted with substrata by arguing that to be presented with a
complex is to be presented with all of the entities constituting itP Now, in a
trivial sense, this is true. If we are presented with an object, we are presented
with the whole object - the complex "made up" of all those entities that
enter into its constitution. But this trivial sense of 'being presented' hardly
serves Allaire's purposes; for the appeal to bare substrata could be defended
on phenomenological grounds only if it were possible merely by examining
an ordinary object to discover a bare substratum among its constituents. The
fact is, however, that to know that bare particulars are among the constitu-
ents of ordinary objects, we need the arguments substratum ontologists have
employed in justifying their appeal to these entities; and even armed with
those arguments, it is impossible, given the substratum theorist's characteriza-
tion of bare particulars, to "fmd" this extra ingredient in the complexes into
which they supposedly enter.
But while I think that Allaire is unsuccessful in eliminating the inconsis-
tency between empiricism and a substratum ontology, I find the inconsistency
innocuous. I am inclined to think that if there is a genuine need for appealing
to bare substrata, then any tension between substratum ontologies and em-
piricism only shows the inadequacy of the empiricist approach to ontology.
Empiricists are likely right in pointing to the tension Allaire tries to over-
come; but to the extent that substratum theorists are successful in making
their case for the inescapability of a substratum ontology, to that extent we
ought to have doubts about the legitimacy of the restraints the empiricist
wants to impose upon the ontological enterprise. Thus, if Bergmann is right in
his contention that it is only by the introduction of bare particulars that we
can resolve the problematic stemming from Objection IV, then so much the
worse for empiricism.
146 CHAPTER EIGHT

III. THE INCONSISTENCY OF SUBSTRATUM ONTOLOGIES

Nonetheless, it is not difficult to see why Allaire is so anxious to relieve the


tension between empiricism and the substratum ontology. Like Bergmann,
Allaire wants to attribute two roles to bare particulars. They are not only the
objects securing the numerical diversity of indiscernible objects; they are also
the ultimate subjects of predication, the things literally exemplifying the pro-
perties with which they are co-presenL l4 In this connection, empiricist critic-
isms of bare substrata have real force. Bergmann and Allaire ask us to believe
that the ultimate subjects of predication are objects which in themselves lack
all empirically ascertainable properties. Confronted with this suggestion, one
cannot resist asking just how it is that we ever succeed in picking out the
objects to which we supposedly attribute the various properties associated
with ordinary objects.
But criticism of the view that bare particulars are the literal possessors of
properties and, hence, the ultimate subjects of predication runs deeper than
this. Wilfrid Sellars, for example, argues that the view is self-contradictory:
Perhaps the neatest way in which to expose the absurdity of the notion of bare particu-
lars is to show that the sentence 'Universals are exemplified by bare particulars' is a self-
contradiction. As a matter of fact, the self-contradictory character of this sentence
becomes self-evident the moment we translate it into the symbolism of Principia Mathe-
matica. It becomes '(x). (3 cp) cpx :J - (3 CP) cpx' or, in other words, 'If a particular exem-
plifies a universal, then there is no universal it exemplifies'. 15

Sellars' contention here is that the claim that bare particulars are the posses-
sors of properties is inconsistent. Why? Well, because to claim that something
is a bare particular is to claim that it has no properties; but, then, to go on
and say that bare particulars are the literal possessors of the properties asso-
ciated with the objects into whose constitution they enter is to say that
things which have no properties at all do, in fact, have properties.
Now, what is so striking about this criticism of the Bergmannian account
of predication is its disarming simplicity. Indeed, it is difficult to understand
how, if the objection is sound, the bare particular theorist could have failed
to see its force. The fact is, however, that the bare particular theorist is not
committed to the contradiction Sellars reads into his view. The bare particular
theorist does not explain the notion of a bare particular by saying that it is a
thing which has no properties; what he says, on the contrary, is that bare
particulars or bare substrata are things which in themselves have no proper-
ties. But just what does this mean? Well, Bergmann tells us that his particulars
are bare in the sense that they have no natures. Presumably, what Bergmann
BARE SUBSTRATA 147

means to deny here is not that bare particulars have or possess properties but
rather that they have any properties essentially. Now, the idea that objects
have some of their properties essentially or necessarily is one that we shall
examine later. For the present, we can say that an object has a property
essentially just in case it has that property and it is impossible that it both
exist and fail to have that property.16 But, then, in saying that bare particu-
lars are the literal possessors of properties, what Bergmann and the whole line
of substratum ontolOgists have been saying is not that the possessors of pro-
perties are not the possessors of properties, but only that the literal possessors
of properties possess none of their properties essentially. They are claiming,
that is, that the things which possess properties are such that there is no pro-
perty they possess that they might not have failed to possess; and whether
this claim is true, it clearly does not involve the contradiction Sellars points
to. 17

IV. BARE SUBSTRATA AND ESSENTIAL PROPERTIES

But while I think Hat he is wrong in claiming that the substratum theorist
both asserts and denies that bare particulars possess properties, I am inclined
to think that Sellars is right in claiming that the notion of a bare particular is
implicitly contradictory. The defender of substrata tells us that an entity is
bare just in case it exemplifies no properties essentially. But it seems unlikely
that it should be a merely contingent fact about an entity that it is bare. If a
thing is bare, it would seem, then it is necessarily bare. But, then, every entity
that is bare has at least one property essentially, the property of having no
properties essentially; and this is to say that the notion of a bare particular is
inconsistent. To qualify as bare, an object can have no properties essentially;
but the property of having no properties essentially is itself a property that is
essential to anything that has it; consequently, it is impossible that there be
any bare entities, whether particulars or not.
Now, the defender of bare substrata will doubtless deny that there is any
property of the sort I suggest - the property of having no properties essen-
tially. I am not sure how he could make this point convincing; but even ifhe
could, his characterization of bare substrata would still implicitly involve a
reference to properties which substrata exemplify essentially. To appreciate
this, we need only reflect on Bergmann's claim that it is impossible for a bare
particular to be "in" more than one object at a given time. Surely this claim
entails that every bare particular has at least one property essentially, vis., the
property of being the constituent of at most one object at a given time. No
148 CHAPTER EIGHT

bare particular could lack this property, so that once again the contention
that there are bare substrata turns out to involve the contradictory claim that
what has no essential properties has at least one property essentially.
The defender of the Bergmannian account might retrench here and claim
that what he calls bare particulars have essentially none of the properties
which, in ordinary parlance, we associate with the ordinary objects into
whose constitution they enter. Even this weaker claim, however, is incorrect;
for we associate with each ordinary object all of the transcendental proper-
ties, i.e., all of those properties exemplified by every object in every possible
world; but if there are any entities of the kind that have been called bare
particulars, they surely exemplify all of these properties essentially. It is im-
possible that there be anything which fails to possess the properties of being
self-identical, being human or non-human, and being colored if green. Nor is
it merely transcendental properties that are problematic here. If an ordinary
object is green, for example, then we associate with that object the property
of being green or a bare particular; but this disjunctive property is one that
would have to be exemplified essentially by the bare particular entering into
its constitution. Likewise, if some ordinary object is human, then there is the
property of being human or incapable of entering into the constitution of
more than one object at a given time; and that property is one that is asso-
ciated with the ordinary object in quesiton and would as well have to be
exemplified essentially by its bare particular. 18
Now, if we think back to the beginning of our discussion of the problem
of substance we will recall that my introduction of the notion of substratum
was grounded in an assumption about the relationship between an object and
its properties. The assumption (found in both Aristotle and Locke) was that
the possessor of a property, P, is always something such that whatever it is, its
being that does not presuppose its possessing P. Effectively that assumption
is just the one underlying Bergmann's account of predication, the assumption
that the literal possessors of properties exemplify no properties essentially.
What we must now conclude is that this assumption is false; but while our
original discussion of the view that substances incorporate a constituent over
and above their properties was grounded exclUSively in that false assumption,
we have since discovered that the view can be justified by the appeal to other
considerations - those bearing on the possibility of indiscernible yet diverse
substances. What all of this suggests is that we reject one of the themes tradi-
tionally associated with substratum ontologies, the view that the constituent
of a substance which is distinct from the properties associated with it is bare;
if there is any such constituent, it has innumerable properties essentially.
BARE SUBSTRATA 149

If he were to accept this modification of his view, the substratum theorist


could consistently maintain that this additional entity "in" a substance is the
literal possessor of the properties which, together with it, constitute the sub-
stance in question. Nonetheless, the contention that objects which cannot be
distinguished from each other in terms of any empirically ascertainable pro-
perties are the objects to which we attribute properties is likely to leave us
uneasy; and since, as we have seen in our discussion of Objection III, there is
no reason why ordinary objects cannot be the subjects of ordinary property-
attributions, the appeal to these entities as the ultimate subjects of predication
is gratuitous. The point here is that there is a powerful argument for thinking
that there are constituents in substances over and above their properties - the
argument associated with Objection IV. The force of that argument is only
weakened when the notion of substratum as individuator gets tangled up with
the notion of substratum as ultimate subject of predication. In any case, I
shall try to present the notion of a substratum ontology in what I take to be
its best light by disentangling the two roles Bergmann attributes to substrata.
On this modified version of the traditional account, substances are not con-
stituted exclusively by their properties; they incorporate, in addition, an
individuating constituent, i.e., a constituent which guarantees the numerical
diversity of indiscernible objects. This entity is not bare; it has many proper-
ties essentially; and while it is the possessor of those properties, not it, but
the substance into whose constitution it enters is the subject of ordinary
property-attributions. Let us call these remnants of the original bare substrata
modified substrata.

V. MODIFIED SUBSTRATA AND INDIVIDUATION

My modified substrata are simply individuators; they are the entities which
ground the possibility of diverse, yet indiscernible objects. Now, when asked
whether they succeed in performing their assigned task as individuators, one
is inclined to ask how they could fail; for what I have salvaged (indeed, what
seems worthy of salvaging) from the traditional substratum view is simply the
claim that substances incorporate individuating entities. Thus, all that remains
of the original substrata is their individuating role, so that the question "Do
they individuate?" has to answered affirmatively. They just are individuators;
obviously they individuate!
Indeed, one is likely to think that they perform their task as individuators
a little too well. To see how one might have suspicious here, one oUght to
consider the following case. Suppose that there is some phenomenon cp; now,
150 CHAPTER EIGHT

the occurrence of I/>'s is an unquestioned fact. Unfortunately, it is also an


unexplained fact. Suppose that some philosopher comes along; and after
reflecting on I/>'s, declares, "There are I/I's." When asked what I/I's are, he tells
us, "They are the things that are responsible for the occurrence of I/>'s."
Pressed to amplify this cryptic characterization, our philosopher tells us that
I/I's exemplify all the transcendental properties and all those properties (such
as the property of being green or a 1/1) entailed by their being I/I's. Pressed
further, however, he denies that a more complete characterization of I/I's is
possible. "I/I's are things which are responsible for the occurrence of I/>'s, and
that is the end of the matter!" he insists. Now, we are likely to have doubts
about the explanatory value of his account because it fails to provide us with
any characterization of the entities it postulates which makes it clear how it is
that they play the explanatory role the account attributes to them. This
situation with what I have called modified substrata seems a bit like this. We
are confronted with a phenomenon - that of the existence of diverse, yet
indiscernible objects; the phenomenon needs explanation; and along comes
the substratum ontologist, who, upon examining the phenomenon declares,
"And so substances incorporate substrata among their constituents." But
when asked just what substrata are, he tells us that substrata are the entities
in substances which ground the numerical diversity of indiscernible objects;
and he refuses to say any more. It is difficult not to doubt his claims to have
provided a genuine account of the phenomenon in question.
But is it true that modified substrata provide even a trivial explanation of
the phenomenon of diverse yet indiscernible substances? I am inclined to
think not. Substrata would have even the limited explanatory value associated
with the mythical postulation of I/I's only if the appeal to them would provide
an answer to every question of the form, "Why are these indiscernible objects
diverse?" The fact is, however, that it does not. To see this, we need to reflect
on the fact that our modified substrata are themselves complexes. They are
entities with which we associate various properties; and as complexes they
agree in many of their properties. Thus, each substratum has (and has essen-
tially) the property of being incapable of being in more than one ordinary
object at a given time; each has (and has essentially) the property of being
colored if green; each has (and has essentially) the property of being self-
identical; and so on. Their indiscernibility with respect to all these properties
suggests the need to isolate in these complexes some property in virtue of
which substrata differ. Now, with respect to one kind of property, every sub-
stratum is qualitatively different from every other substratum. Thus, the sub-
stratum constitutive of substance, a, has the property of being constitutive of
BARE SUBSTRATA 151

a; the substratum constitutive of substance, b, has the property of being


constitutive of b, and so on. I do not know whether these properties are had
by their respective substrata essentially or only contingently; but it does not
matter; for the substratum theorist cannot appeal to these properties in ex-
plaining the numerical diversity of substrata. Properties of the form being
constitutive of a are one and all impure and so cannot enter into the substra-
tum theorist's account of the ontological structure of the constituents out
of which substances are composed. Substrata also differ in their identity-
properties. Thus, substratum, a, has the property of being identical with a,
and no other substratum does; substratum, (3, has the property of being iden-
tical with (3 and no other substratum does; and so on. Unfortunately, for the
same reason the bundle theorist could not appeal to the identity-properties of
indiscernible substances in explaining their diversity the substratum theorist
cannot appeal to the identity-properties of substrata to explain their diversity.
Relative to the objects they supposed diverSify, these properties are impure.
It is, however, only in their identity-properties and in the properties in virtue
of which they are constituents of the substances into whose constitution they
enter (as well as any properties entailed by these) that substrata differ; but,
then, as they present themselves to the substratum ontologist, substrata are
qualitatively indiscernible, so that the entities supposedly guaranteeing the
diversity of ordinary objects, are themselves subject to the very problem their
introduction was meant to resolve. But if the indiscernibility of diverse sub-
stances required the appeal to individuating constituents, then we seem bound
to hold that substrata have individuating constituents of their own - substrata2,
we might say. But obviously the appeal to substrata2 will be no more success-
ful than the appeal to the original substrata; for no two substrata2 will differ
with respect to any of those properties the substratum theorist has a right to
appeal to in distinguishing them from each other. All substrata2, then, will be
qualitatively indiscernible, so that the problem of individuation will arise in
their case as well; and that means that we must postulate substrata3, and so
on ad infinitum. Since substrata of any level will be indiscernible yet diverse
in just the way that ordinary objects can be, the appeal to individuating con-
stituents cannot provide a general answer to the problem of individuation.
One can see that the source of the difficulty here lies in the fact that sub-
strata have properties essentially; in virtue of their agreeing essential proper-
ties, they present themselves to the ontologist as further indiscernible com-
plexes in which he must postulate additional individuators. It is clear, then,
why the substratum theorist wants to insist that substrata are bare. If in
themselves they have no properties, then they turn out to be "simples" and
152 CHAPTER EIGHT

so resolve once and for all the problem of indiscernible yet diverse objects.
Unfortunately, however, individuators cannot be bare, and so they do not
enable us to revolve the problematic stemming from Objection IV. Despite
initial appearances to the contrary, then, substratum ontologies are no more
capable of providing a solution to the problem of individuation than are
bundle theories of substance, so that the only argument we have to justify
the appeal to a substratum ontology, even of the modified sort suggested
above, collapses.

NOTES

1 Realism, pp. 22-23.


2 Ibid., p. 22.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid., p. 24.
5 The nexus in, of course, exemplification.
6 Ibid., p. 112.
7 Ibid., p. 117.
8 This point is brought out clearly in Castaneda's 'Identity and Individuation: A New
Look,' American Philosophical Quarterly, 1975, pp. 131-140, Castaneda suggests that
we withhold the name "individuation" from the problem I am considering here. While I
sympathize with his motives, I think that the term has sufficient currency to preserve its
use, provided that we keep in mind the two distinct issues of accounting for the diversity
of indiscernible substances and locating an ultimate subject for predication.
9 'The Philosophy of Malebranche,' Meaning and Existence, pp. 190-191.
10 "Bare Particulars," Philosophical Studies, 196; reprinted in Loux, Universals and
Particulars, p. 287.
11 Ibid., p. 288.
12 Ibid., p. 281.
13 'Another Look at Bare Particulars,' Philosophical Studies, 1965; reprinted in Loux,
Universals and Particulars, p. 302.
14 See, e.g., 'Bare Particulars,' pp. 281-285.
15 'Particulars,' Philosophy of Science, 1952; reprinted in Science, Perception, and
Reality, pp. 282-283.
16 As it stands, this account of what it is to exemplify a property essentially is inade-
quate. A more accurate account is found in the next chapter.
17 This point is brought out in Robert Baker's 'Particulars: Bare, Naked, and Nude,'
Nous, 1967, pp. 211-212.
18 Bergmann is not unaware of these difficulties. See. e.g., 'Ineffability, Ontology, and
Method' in Logic and Reality p:,. 45-63. Bergmann tries to handle the difficulty by
denying that things like being an individuator are genuine properties. He calls them sub
sistents. This is, however, only a terminological dodge; for as I see it, there is no non-
question-begging way of distinguishing what Bergmann wants to call properties from the
properties he calls subsistents.
CHAPTER NINE

TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY OF SUBSTANCE

I. THE DILEMMA OF INDIVIDUATION

For the past three chapters, we have been examining two accounts of the
ontological structure of substances. According to one, substances are wholes
whose constituents are simply properties; whereas, the other account takes
substances to incorporate an additional constituent, a substratum. Now, for
epistemological reasons, we were initially inclined to accept the bundle theo-
rist's account of substance; but we found the substratum theorist pointing to
four supposed flaws in the bundle theory, each of which, he claimed, could
be overcome only by the appeal to a substratum ontology. The first difficulty
was that since substances are contingent beings, they cannot be constituted
exclusively by necessary beings. According to the substratum theorist, the
contingency of ordinary objects is accounted for only if we admit among
their constituents entities that are themselves contingent - substrata. The
second difficulty was that the bundle theorist cannot account for identity
through change; the possibility of identity through change, we were told,
presupposes that each substance incorporates among its constituents a princi-
ple of permanence - again, a substratum. The third difficulty was that the
bundle theorist is forced to construe all true sentences in which we attribute
properties to substances as tautological; to explain the non-tautological truth
of such sentences, the substratum theorist insisted that we take substances to
incoporate a constituent which, while capable of serving as the possessor of
properties, is ontologically independent of the properties which can be predi-
cated of it; and once again the additional constituent was identified with
substratum. Finally, the substratum theorist argued that the bundle theorist
cannot account for the possibility of diverse yet qualitatively indiscernible
substances and contended that it is necessary to postulate as "ingredients" in
substances carriers of numerical diversity or pure individuators; and, as in the
case of the first three difficulties, these additional "ingredients" were said to
be substrata.
Now, we have seen how the first three difficulties are only apparent. A
bundle theorist can explain the contingency of substances without appeal-
ing to a constituent that is itself contingent by holding that the properties
153
154 CHAPTER NINE

constitutive of an object enter into a merely contingent relation. The second


difficulty, we said, arises only if we adopt a very implausible necessitarian
interpretation of the constituent-whole relation; and we said that if we adopt
such an interpretation of that relation, identity through change is impossible
on both theories of substance. Likewise, we saw that the third difficulty
arises only if we accept an obviously unsatisfactory account of the referential
force of proper names, one that requires the user of a name to know in ad-
vance all of the properties associated with a substance. If he accepts a more
plausible account of naming, the bundle theorist has no difficulty at all in
explaining how property-attributions can be both true and non-tautologous.
But we concluded that unlike the first three difficulties, the substratum
theorist's final criticism of the bundle theory is legitimate. The bundle theo-
rist cannot account for the fact that it is possible for diverse substances to be
qualitatively indiscernible. We argued that in explaining the possibility of this
phenomenon, the appeal to substrata is promising; but we also argued that
the substratum theorist's introduction of substrata as bare individuators
involves the appeal to a contradictory notion. First, the notion of a bare any-
thing is inconsistent, since to be bare is to lack all essential properties; but to
lack all essential properties is to have at least one property essentially - that
of having no properties essentially. Second, the notion of an individuating
entity is that of an object that has essentially the property of carrying numer-
ical diversity; thus, the notion of a bare individuator is the notion of what
both has and lacks essential properties.
The upshot of these difficulties, we said, is that if he is to make the notion
of substratum as individuator coherent, the substratum theorist must grant
that the individuating constituents of substances are essentially characterized.
We saw, however, that once he grants this, the substratum theorist no longer
has a solution to the problem of individuation; for he must hold that, as they
present themselves to the ontolOgist, all individuators are essentially charac-
terized in the same way, so that the very problem that substrata were intro-
duced to solve - that of the diversity of indiscernibles - arises in their own
case. We concluded, then, that the strategy of explaining the diversity of
indiscernible objects by reference to individuating constituents results in a
vicious infinite regress of individuating yet indiscernible entities and, conse-
quently, that once it is purged of its inconsistency, the substratum theorist's
appeal to substrata as individuators fails to explain the phenomenon it was
meant to explain.
Now, ontologists frequently assume that the realist has only two options
in characterizing the ontological structure of substances; he must accept either
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY ISS

a bundle theoretic interpretation of ordinary objects or some version of the


substratum theory. If they are right, then we are faced with a dilemma; it
shapes up as follows: we must either accept as true a principle (11*) which we
know to be false; or we must appeal to the inconsistent notion of bare sub-
strata; for to accept the bundle theory commits us to (I1*); and the only way
of providing a genuinely explanatory account of the phenomenon which
falsifies (I1*), the possibility of diverse yet indiscernible substances, is by
introducing into our account individuating entities wi~h respect to which the
phenomenon cannot arise; and only bare individuators satisfy this require-
ment. The dilemma is discomforting. Confronted with it, we would do well
to retrace the steps that generate it.
We began with the characteristic assertion of the bundle theorist, the claim
that ordinary objects are merely bundles of properties. Let us formulate this
claim as
(1) Necessarily, for any substance, a, and any entity, b, if b is a con-
stituent of a, then b is a property.
The second step on the road to (I1*) was the Principle of Constituent Identity
or
(2) Necessarily, for any substance, a, and any substance, b, if for any
entity, c, c is a constituent of a if and only if c is a constituent of
b, then a is identical with b.
The third step in the argument for (I1*) was the view that the constituents of
substances must all be "pure" entities, that is, entities which do not incor-
porate substances among their constituents. l Put formally, this claim is
(3) Necessarily, for any substance, a, and any entity, b, if b is a con-
stituent of a, then there is no substance, c, such that c is a con-
stituent of b;
and (I )-(3) entail
(I1*) Necessarily, for any substance, a, and any substance, b, if for any
pure property, P, P is an attribute of a if and only if P is an attri-
bute of b, then a is identical with b.
But since a realistic analysis of propertyagreement is inescapable, (I1*) is fal
sified if it is possible for a pair of objects to exhibit what in ordinary parlance
we would call complete agreement in pure properties. But this is possible;
therefore, (11*) is false. That means that the conjunction of (1)-(3) is false;
156 CHAPTER NINE

but since (2) and (3) are true, (1) is false. Objects are not constituted exclu-
sively by their properties; they must include among their "ingredients" purely
individuating constituents; and only bare particulars will do the job here; for
it is only if the individuating constituents of substances are in themselves un-
characterized that they provide a final answer to the question of individua-
tion. Unfotunately, the notion of a bare particular is contradictory.
The choice, then, appears to be between a false principle - (II*) - and an
inconsistent notion - that of bare substrata or bare particulars. We could, of
course, escape this dilemma if we could show that the falsity of (I) does not
entail an ontology of bare substrata or that (2) is false or, finally, that (3) is
false. Philosophers have tried to escape our dilemma in each of these three
ways. In a couple of places, the later Russell, for example, tells us that it is
extremely improbable that two substances agree in all their pure properties;
and he seems to think that the empirical improbability of diverse yet qualita-
tively indiscernible objects is sufficient for the truth of the bundle theory?
Presumably, then, Russell thinks that the bundle theorist is committed not to
(11*) but to the weaker principle
(11**) For any substance, a, and any substance, b, if for any pure pro-
perty, P, P is an attribute of a if and only if P is an attribute of b,
then a is identical with b.
It need not be impossible, then, that there be no numerically different yet
qualitatively indiscernible substances; it is sufficient for this to be a merely
contingent fact. Obviously, Russell can substitute (11**) for (II*) only if he
rejects one of (I )-(3); and I am inclined to think that he wants to reject (I);
but in rejecting (1), he does not mean to be endorsing a substratum ontology;
he merely means to be denying that the bundle theory is to be construed as a
necessary truth; he is saying that it is contingently true that objects are con-
stituted exclusively by their properties.
I am not convinced, however, that a proposal of the sort I read into
Russell's remarks is a satisfactory way out of our dilemma. For one thing, the
bundle theorist who takes this line will have to confront the persistent claims
of Bergmann and his followers that the numerical diversity of qualitatively
indiscernible objects is not a merely abstract possibility, but a phenomenolog-
ical fact. Now, it may be that defenders of bare substrata are wrong in their
descriptions of things like phenomenal spots and cubes; but it is hard to see
how a bundle theorist of Russell's persuasion could show this in a non-ques-
tion-begging way. But even if he could, his proposal to treat the bundle theory
as a merely contingent truth only puts off the evil day when he must confront
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY IS7

the dilemma of individuation; for while it may be true that no two objects in
our world are qualitatively indiscernible, this remains a possibility. To use the
jargon introduced in Chapter Five, there are possible worlds where diverse
substances agree in all their pure properties; and the bundle theorist has to
provide us with an account of the ontolOgical structure of substances in those
worlds; but, then, in describing those worlds, he runs up against the very
dilemma he seeks to escape in characterizing the actual world. In those
worlds, substances are diverse yet indiscernible in their properties and so
cannot be characterized in bundle theoretic terms; the only way of explaining
their structure is by appealing to bare individuators; but, as we have seen,
there are no possible worlds whose substances incorporate bare individuators
among their constituents.
A rather different response to our dilemma is found in the writings of
Herbert Hochberg, who rejects (2), the Principle of Constituent Identity. 3 It
is not just that Hochberg thinks that it is possible for different objects to
agree in all their constituents; he seems to agree with Bergmann and his
followers that we actually confront diverse yet indiscernible objects; but since
he denies that identity of constituents entails numerical identity, he fmds this
fact non-problematic for the bundle theorist. Unfortunately, Hochberg pre-
sents no arguments for the falsity of the Principle of Constituent Identity.
Indeed, he seems to reject the principle merely because of its lethal conse-
quences for the bundle theory. Nor is it surprising that he provides no reasons
for rejecting the principle that are independent of its consequences in the
dialectic we are considering. The principle is clearly a necessary truth, one
that defines for the ontologist the very notion of the constituent-whole rela-
tion. Here, Bergmann is right; for the philosopher who takes the analysis of
substance to be the task of specifying the constituents of certain wholes or
complexes, (2) is a fundamental principle. To reject it is to pay mere lip ser-
vice to the basic contention of both the bundle and substratum theories, vis.,
that substances are complexes whose ontological structure is revealed by the
identification of those entities that enter into their constitution.
A third way out of our dilemma would involve the rejection of (3). One
could avoid both an ontology of bare individuators and (II*) by denying that
the entities involved in the constitution of substances must one and all be
"pure" entities. Without meaning to embrace any version of the bundle
theory, Nicholas Wolterstorff suggests this response to the problem of indivi-
duation. 4 He rejects Bergmann's contention that it is possible for numerically
different objects to agree in all their non-relational properties, claiming that,
given any pair of numerically different substances, a and b, a has a property
158 CHAPTER NINE

which b does not have - the property of being identical with a; and b has a
property that a does not have - the property of being identical with b. Earlier
we ran up against identity-properties of this sort, but we argued that since the
bundle theorist is engaged in the reductive enterprise of constructing sub-
stances from their constituents, such properties could not enter into his
"assay" of substances. In insisting that identity-properties enter into our
description of apparently indiscernible objects, Wolterstorff seems to be pro-
posing that we reject the reductionism implicit in both the bundle and sub-
stratum theorists' accounts of substance. He seems to be denying that we can
"get below" the concept of individual substances in presenting an ontological
account of their structure.
Now, while I am sympathetic with Wolterstorffs anti-reductionism here, I
am inclined to think that his outright rejection of the reductionistic frame-
work is a bit too abrupt. Neither the bundle theorist nor the defender of bare
substrata is likely to be convinced by Wolterstorffs mere stipulation that
impure properties must lie at the basis of our analysis of substance. A more
effective strategy in dealing with their theories of substance is to adopt the
reductionistic framework they take for granted and to use that framework
against itself. At any rate, that is the strategy I shall employ. I shall simply
accept the restriction bundle and substratum theorists impose upon the
ontologist - that of analyzing substances in terms of only "pure" entities;
and I shall try to show how this restriction ultimately calls into question the
reductionistic framework they both employ.

II. SUBSTANCES AND THEIR KINDS

Towards executing this strategy, I want to begin by nothing that (1 )-(3) do


not exhaust the assumptions required to generate our dilemma. Another
assumption is implicit in the dialectic leading to the choice between (11*) and
bare substrata; this is the assumption that for any universal, U, such that U is
exemplified by a plurality of substances, a, b, ... , n, what I shall call the
instantiations of U in each of a, b, ... , n (Le., the U of a, the U of b, ... , the
U of n) are all numerically identical. This assumption - that for two numeri-
cally different substances to exhibit a universal in simply for some constituent
of the one to be numerically identical with a constituent of the other - is
essential to our argument; for it is only if we accept it that we find ourselves
committed to accepting either (11*) or an ontology of bare substrata. It is
only if we assume that every pure universal associated with a substance con-
forms to this characterization that we are justified in applying the Principle of
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY 159

Constituent Identity in deriving (11*) from the bundle theory; and, similarly,
it is only if we accept this assumption that we are, given the falsity of (11*),
warranted in invoking the Principle of Constituent Identity in grounding a
substratum ontology.
Now, the universals that have been at the center of the stage for the past
three chapters have all been properties; for both the bundle theorist and the
substratum thorist tend to identify the pure universals of a substance with its
pure properties. Given this tendency, it is easy enough to see why the assump-
tion has never come into question; for in the case of the properties associated
with a substance, the assumption seems correct. To accept a realistic account
of attributes, it seems, is just to commit oneself to the view that the instantia-
tions of a given property are all numerically identical, that the red of this ball
is identical with the red of that ball, that they have the same shape, and so
on. But if it should Wrn out that not all of the pure universals associated with
substances are like properties in having numerically identical instantiations,
then perhaps we would have a way out of our dilemma. More, specifically,
what we need to isolate if we are to escape between the Scylla of bare parti-
culars and the Charybdis of (11*) is a set ot universals that meets four require-
ments. The set must be such that (A) the various instantiations of any univer-
sal from the set are all numerically different entities; (B) it must be plausible
to think that every substance exemplifies at least one universal from the set;
(C) none of the universals from the set are impure; and (0) none of the uni-
versals in the set are wholly and completely reducible to or analyzable into
universals which exhibit numerical identity in their instantiations.
Is there a set of universals which meets these requirements? If we can trust
some remarks in the Categories, we can conclude that Aristotle at least
thought so. s Indeed, Aristotle seems to have held that even the properties
associated with ordinary objects have numerically distinct instantiations. He
seems to hold that while all white objects exemplify some one entity, white-
ness, their jointly exemplifying that entity does not involve their incorporat-
ing numerically identical constituents. According to Aristotle, although the
property, whiteness, is equally exhibited by white objects, a, b, ... n, the in-
stantiations of whiteness in a, b, ... , n (Le., the whiteness of a, the whiteness
of b, ... , the whiteness of n) are all numerically different entities. As he con-
strues it, appending the expression 'of a', 'of b', etc. to the name of a property
does not yield further designations of that property, but designations of
numerically different particulars - the instantiations of the property. The
suggestion in the Categories is that this sort of account holds for all properties.
The consequence of this suggestion for our problem should be clear: since no
160 CHAPTER NINE

properties have numerically identical instantiations, the dilemma of individua-


tion cannot arise.
Unfortunately, there are two difficulties with Aristotle's account. For one
thing, Aristotle holds that the instantiations of a property are ontologie ally
posterior to the substances to which they belong. 6 On his account, it is an
essential feature of the wisdom of Socrates, for example, that it belong to
Socrates; that instantiation of wisdom could not exist and be the wisdom of
some other substance. But, then, on his account what grounds the diversity of
the instantiations of a property is the prior diversity of the substances to
which they belong. Thus, to appeal to Aristotle's doctrine of property-instan-
tiations in explaining the numerical diversity ofsubstances would be circular.
But even if one were to reject the Aristotelian view about the ontological
dependence of property-instantiations and hold that property-instantiations
are diversified independently of the diversification of the substances to which
they belong, there remains the fact that Aristotle's interpretation of property-
agreement comes perilously close to violating the realistic presuppositions on
which our discussion is founded. We are assuming, as we must, that a realistic
interpretation of attribute-agreement is correct; but in denying that even
property-exemplification involves numerical identity of constituents, Aristotle
seems to be denying that there is any sense at all in which objects can literally
share or have in common one and the same entity.
In any case, Aristotle would convince us of his interpretation of properties
like whiteness only if he could first show that in the case of other universals,
we have no option but to count instantiations as numerically different. Hav-
ing shown the inescapability of this interpretation in connection with those
universals, he might, then, go on to argue that it is plausible or natural to
extend the account to instantiations of properties. But given the plausibility
of assuming that properties have numerically identical instantiations, it would
clearly be wrong to propose this sort of interpretation of universals with
properties as one's focus.
In point of fact, Aristotle did not first propose the relevant interpretation
of universals for universals like whiteness or wisdom. His account of these
universals appears to be an extension of the account he provides for universals
from the category of substance, universals like man and dog. In the case of
these universals, he thinks, the view that instantiations of the universal are
numerically diverse is not just plausible, but inescapable. Aristotle goes on
and treats universals like whiteness and wisdom according to the same model;
but our dissatisfaction with his extension of the model need not prevent us
from appreciating its original application. 7
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY 161

It is clear why Aristotle found this sort of interpretation so compelling in


the case of substance-universals like man and dog. These universals are sorts
or kinds, and their instantiations are simply the various individual substances
which belong to them. Since those substances obviously constitute many
different objects, the instantiations of a kind must likewise be construed as
different. Aristotle's insight is clarified when we note that what makes it
possible to construe the various instantiations of a property like witnesses as
identical is the fact that we distinguish here between the objects exhibiting
a property and the instantiations of that property. We say that it is white
objects which exhibit whiteness; whereas, the whitenesses present in them
count as instantiations of the universal they all exhibit. Having this distinc-
tion before us, we can say that while the objects exhibiting whiteness are
numerically different, the instantiations of whiteness in them are identical.
In the case of substance-kinds, however, there is no distinction between the
objects which exhibit a universal and the various instantiations of that univer-
sal. The individuals who exhibit the universal, man, just are the instantiations
of that universal, so that in the case of substance-kinds, there is no alternative
to construing instantiations of each universal as numerically diverse.
Aristotle's account suggests that we look to substance-kinds for universals
meeting requirements (A)--(D). As regards (A), Aristotle is doubtless right in
his contention that the instantiations of substance-kinds are numerically
diverse. However, if we follow Aristotle's account to the letter, we must
despair of seeing (B) satisfied. Aristotle limited substance-universals to those
which function as kinds of natural, as opposed to artificial, objects. Thus, if
we were to depend on Aristotle's substance-kinds, we could not say that there
are universals of the required sort for tables, chairs, and the like; but if we are
willing to extend the notion of a substance-kind to include universals like
table, automobile, and pencil, then it is plausible to assume that there is a
substance-kind for every ordinary object. We may, of course, not know deter-
rninately what that kind is; (B) only commits us to the claim that it is possi-
ble to find this out. Furthermore, substance-kinks satisfy (C); none of them
incorporates a determinate particular in the way that universals like being
married to Henry VIII do. There is no relation R, and no substance s, such
that necessarily an object belongs to man, for example, if and only if he/she
bears R to s. Substance-kinds may, of course, give rise to or make possible the
concept of a determinate object, but (C) contains no restriction against that.
That leaves us with (D) - the requirement that substance-kinds not be redu-
cible exclusively to universals with numerically identical instantiations. Since
we have been construing properties as paradigmatic of such universals, let us
162 CHAPTER NINE

interpret (0) as the requirement that substance-kinds not be reducible to


properties.
At first glance, it seems easy enough to show that substance-kinds do not
satisfy (0). Since there is a property associated with every kind and since talk
about objects and their kinds can always be recast in the form of talk about
those same objects and the relevant properties, kinds appear to be eliminable
in favor of properties. Sentences incorporating the kind-name, man, for exam-
ple, are replaceable, without loss of content, by sentences incorporating the
property-name, 'humanity', so that it seems plausible to interpret 'man' as a
mere stand-in for 'humanity'. The reductions can, of course, be carried out in
the reverse direction as well; consequently, this interpretation of kinds is
legitimate only if it is possible to identify the relevant properties without
referring even implicitly to the associated kinds. Now, if a property like
humanity were readily identifiable in the way that, say, whiteness is, there
would be no problem here. We could identify the property (by ostension,
perhaps) and then go on to "define away" the corresponding kind. Unfor-
tunately, there is no single familiar property we can identify with the referent
of 'humanity'. If we are to specify what we mean by this expression, we must
say something like the following: "by 'humanity' I mean the property which
is exhibited by all and only the individuals who are men; and to say this is to
forfeit the game. Having identified humanity as the property associated with
a certain kind of thing - the kind of thing that is a man, we can hardly go on
and talk of eliminating that kind in favor of humanity. Our identification, on
the contrary, insures that if there is a derivative universal in the environment,
it is not man, but humanity.
The difficulty here is that man involves a logical complexity which is lost
in the appeal to a single property. Aristotle recognized this; but he contended
that when the complexity of a substance-kind is exhibited in definition, a
further substance-kind (its genus) always emerges. He concluded, then, that
our original commitment to kind-concepts is non-eliminable. A rehearsal of
Aristotle's position, however, hardly establishes the point. Indeed, it might
seem that we can establish the point only by way of an a priori proof.8 Un-
fortunately, I am not prepared to present any proof that substance-kinds are
irreducible to properties; but neither do I think the demand for such a proof
is justified. When we set the claim that substance-kinds are irreducible to
properties against the opposing claim, it is the former that emerges as the
plausible view; and I would prefer to rest my case with that.
The plausibility of the claim becomes clear when we reflect on past at-
tempts to reduce kinds to properties. It has, for the most part, been in the
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY 163

service of phenomenalism (the view that our concepts of material objects are
analyzable in terms of merely sensory properties) that philosophers have tried
to effect this reduction; and their attempts have, one and all, ended in dis-
aster. Invariably, it turned out that they could reduce substance-concepts to
the concepts of properties only if they illicitly smuggled in vestiges of the
kind-concepts they were trying to eliminate. Their failures, of course, do not
entail the impossibility of their task; but they do suggest that the burden of
proof lies not with the philosopher who takes substance-kinds to be irreduc-
ble to properties, but with his opponents. Given the lack of success attending
their enterprise, his view emerges as the plausible view. He must, of course, be
prepared to handle all future attempts to carry out the enterprise; but that is
quite different from proving in advance their impossibility.
To deny, however, that kinds can be eliminated in favor of properties is
not to deny the important connection between being a member of a kind and
exhibiting certain properties. That such a connection exists and that it is
more than merely contingent are both claims no one can doubt. Their indubi-
tability likely lies at the bottom of many attempts to reduce substance-kinds
to properties. But while granting the relevant connection, one can deny that
predicating a kind of an object is merely ascribing a set of properties to it.
This is what I am denying; and denying it, I am arguing, is plausible.
Now, if we accept this plausibility claim, we can conclude that substance-
kinds do meet the requirements set out in (A)-(O). Substance-kinds, then,
provide us with a resolution of our dilemma. If we hold that every ordinary
object belongs to a substance-kind, we need neither adopt (11*) nor accept
the view that objects incorporate bare substrata. Objects can exhibit precisely
the same universals without incorporating some additional substratum just
because each object exhibits at least one universal, a substance-kind, whose
instantiations are all numerically different.

III. A SUBSTANCE-THEORY OF SUBSTANCE

The view I want to defend, then, is that each substance falls under a substance-
kind and that since substance-kinds are not reducible to universals of any
other type, each substance exemplifies a universal which guarantees its nu-
merical diversity from every other substance. Kinds are universals whose
instantiations are numerically different; but the instantiations of a substance-
kind just are the various substances which belong to or fall under it. Thus,
there is no need either to deny what is obvious - that it is possible for dif-
ferent objects to be indiscernible with respect to their pure universals or to
164 CHAPTER NINE

appeal to bare substrata in explaining how this is possible. Indiscernible sub-


stances agree in their substance-kinds; but for two or more objects to agree in
a substance-kind is eo ipso for them to be numerically different. Substance-
kinds of and by themselves diversify their members, so that in being given
substance-kinds we are thereby given universals that guarantee the diversifica-
tion of the objects which exemplify them.
Now, initially it might seem that my account is just a version of the bundle
theory, one which ingeniously manages to avoid commitment to (II). The
point would be that I merely replace the notion of substances as bundles of
properties with the notion of substances as bundles of universals. By this
replacement I am able, as the traditional bundle theorist is not, to appeal to
attributes - substance-kinds - the joint exemplification of which does not
involve numerical identity of constituents; and so I am not bound by the
Principle of Constituent Identity to accept (II).
The fact is, however, that assimilating my view to that of the bundle theo-
rist involves a distortion of the account I am proposing. It is true that my
account agrees with that of the traditional bundle theorist in one respect; we
agree that the appeal to underlying substrate is both unnecessary and ill-
advised; but it is only in rejecting bare substrata that we agree. Indeed, when
set against my view and traditional substratum ontologies, the bundle theo-
rist's account turns out to be closer to the latter than to the former. For all
their disagreements, the bundle and substratum theorist agree on the general
framework within which an account of the ontological structure of substance
is to be provided. Both agree in holding that an account of substances involves
a speCification of the constituents out of which they are composed. In insist-
ing that substance-kinds play a central role in the ontological analysis of sub-
stance, however, I am effectively rejecting this assumption about the correct
form of a metaphysical account of substance. A substance-kind is not one
constituent of substances among others; it is not a constituent of substances
at all. Being a member of its proper substance-kind is just what a substance is.
On my account, then, substances do not tum out to be complexes or com-
posites of constituents whose specification is the special province of the
ontolOgist. What substances are and are essentially is members of substance-
kinds; and this means that they cannot be bundles of properties or bundles of
properties supported by an underlying substrata. They are simply substances
- things like oak trees, human beings, and amoebae. And I take this point
seriously; for I want to deny that universals other than substance-kinds are
constituents which together with the appropriate substance-kinds "make
objects into" substances. In virtue of exemplifying its substance-kind, a thing
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY 165

is a full-fledged substance numerically distinct from all other substances; and


those universals that are not substance-kinds but are associated with sub-
stances are not further "ingredients" in substances; they are rather properties
that substances possess and relations into which substances enter.
My account, then, is no more a version of the bundle theory than it is a
version of the substratum theory. Indeed, it is an account distinct from both.
If one wants to label the view, he can call it a substance-theory of substance.
It is a descendant of an approach to substance that is expressed in many
passages of Aristotle in which (unlike the passage earlier quoted from Meta-
physics Z.3), he insists that substances are fundamental unities which cannot
be reduced to more basic sorts of things. 9 Thus, if one wants to find an his-
torical analogue of my view, he is better advised to look to Aristotelian texts
than to the work of Berkeley, Hume, and the later Russell.
It should be clear now how I can claim that my account of substance, like
that suggested by Wolterstorff, is anti-reductionistic. I want to claim that the
concept of a full-fledged substance is given us at the beginning of the ontolog-
ical enterprise and is not one that the ontologist must construct. But unlike
Wolterstorff, my account tries to show how the fundamentality of substance
is implicit in the very characterization that both the bundle theorist and
substratum theorist provide. They insist that we characterize substances
exclusively in terms of what I have called pure entities. What I am contending
is that there are pure universals - substance-kinds - whose irreducibility
effectively implies that the framework of constituents and wholes is an inco-
herent backdrop for an account of substance. Where traditional bundle and
substratum theorists go wrong is in supposing that the only pure universals
required for characterizing substances are their pure properties. Sometimes
they make this mistake simply because they fail to notice that properties do
not exhaust the non-relational universals exemplified by substances; whereas,
sometimes, they make it because they naively assume that kind-talk is redu-
cible to property-talk; but where they make this assumption, they never try,
in more than a promisory noteish way, to show that it is warranted. To at-
tempt to cash in the outstanding promisory notes, I want to suggest, would
be to convince oneself that the naive assumption is false.
What I am proposing, then, is a third theory of substance, an Aristotelian
substance-theory of substance; and in proposing this account, I am rejecting
the reductive framework that has dominated our discussion for the past three
chapters and more. Now, some philosophers will find my account congenial
simply because it is anti-reductionistic. But while it is a merit of my account
that it is not subject to the various criticisms that have perennially been raised
166 CHAPTER NINE

against reductive ontologies, one must not, in his zeal to avoid reductionism,
lose sight of the main consideratons that speak in favor of my analysis of
substance. The main justification I have provided for my account is that it
enables us to resolve a problem that is irresolvable on both the bundle and
substratum accounts - the problem of individuation. Since substance-kinds
of and by themselves diversify their members, by accepting the framework I
propose here, we can provide a coherent account of substance without endors-
ing either (II*) or a substratum ontology. (II*) is false not because substances
incorporate bare substrata among their constituents but simply because they
are substances, members of substance-kinds.

IV. ESSENTIALISM

My proposal to const~ue substances as irreducibly kinded is subject to critic-


ism on several grounds. One criticism of my proposed solution to the problem
of individuation I shall state merely to dismiss. The proponent of this critic-
ism denies that substance-kinds have any objective status apart from the sys-
tems of classification that we provide. On this view, a substance-kind just is a
niche in a proposed classification of substances. Now, the proponent of this
criticism goes on to claim that our classifications of objects are simply func-
tions of our interests and aims in inquiry; and he concludes that since these
interests and aims are susceptible to change over time, there is no antecedent-
ly fixed set of substance-kinds. Indeed, he contends that the intra-systemic
nature of kinds shows the notion of a substance-kind to be of merely epis-
temological interest and to have no metaphysically significant force at all. But
since he holds this sort of picture of kinds, he insists that my appeal to sub-
stance-kinds in resolving the metaphysical problem of individuation is hope-
lessly misguided.
My only response to this criticism is to return the charge and to claim that
the sort of conventionalist approach to kinds that underlies the objection is
itself hopelessly misguided. The contention here is that what substances are,
the kinds of things they are, depends upon how we happen to think about
them; and I find this contention outrageous. It is only our concepts of
substance-kinds that are relative to the conceptual frameworks we employ in
thinking about things; substance-kinds themselves have an objective status
that is independent of our thinking; and the different systems of classification
we employ are true or false accordingly as they reflect the kind-structures
that objects actually exhibit. So while I am willing to grant that our kind-
concepts are susceptible to change (althOUgh doubtless not to the extent that
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY 167

our conventionalist critic would have us believe), I find this fact irrelevant to
the status of substance-kinds themselves; and it is their status and not the
status of our concepts of those kinds that is crucial to my proposed solution
to the problem of individuation.
A more serious criticism stems from my account's commitment to essen-
tialism. Indirectly we have discussed essentialism already; it is the view that
objects exhibit or exemplify some of their properties contingently or acciden-
tally and others, essentially or necessarily. Now, obviously substances exem-
plify some of their attributes only contingently; a red ball might have had
some other color, and a wise man might have failed to achieve the wisdom he
possesses. Substances do not, however, belong to their proper substance-kinds
contingently; they are essentially or necessarily members of the substance-
kinds they exemplify. Dogs could not have been substances of other kinds;
and Similarly for cats, gerania, and human beings. My claim that substances
are irreducibly kinded, then, commits me to the view that at least in the case
of substances, it is possible to distinguish between attributes essential to their
exemplifiers and those exemplified only contingently.
Just how my commitment to essentialism might be thought problematic is
as follows. Critics of essentialism argue that the distinction between essential
and accidental attributes is obscure ~d needs to be clarified. Typically, essen-
tialists have held that one can explain the distinction between necessary and
non-necessary attributes (the so-called de re modalities) in terms of the more
familiar notion of de dicto modality, the notion of modality as applied to
propositions. One might think that an explanation of this sort is straight-
forward, that one can simply say that an object exemplifies an attribute
essentially just in case the proposition that it exemplifies that attribute is
necessarily true and that an object exemplifies an attribute contingently just
in case the proposition that it exemplifies that attribute is true, but not neces-
sarily true; but although some essentialists have suggested such an account,lO
a moment's reflection shows it to be inadequate. A proposition can be neces-
sarily true only if it is impossible that it be false. Furthermore, the proposition
that an object exemplifies an attribute comes out false in the case where the
object does not exist; but, then, the explanation of the de re modalities just
proposed has the consequence that no contingent being (no existing being
whose non-existence is possible) can exemplify even one attribute essentially
or necessarily. But obviously the objects that are of concern to us - material
bodies and persons - are all contingent beings, so that the account just pro-
posed can hardly help us in clarifying what is involved in a substance's belong-
ing to its proper substance-kind.
168 CHAPTER NINE

Now, it might be thought that we could overcome this difficulty if we


were to say that an object exemplifies an attribute essentially or necessarily
just in case it actually exemplifies that attribute and the proposition that it
exists and fails to exemplify that attribute is necessarily false and that an
object exemplifies an attribute contingently just in case it exemplifies that
attribute but does not exemplify it essentially. But while such an analysis
allows us to distinguish between the essential and contingent attributes of
merely contingent beings, critics of essentialism have contended that the
analysis is subject to an obvious and devastating objection.ll The difficulty
here is that both objects and the attributes they exemplify can be identified
in more than one way. Critics allege that merely by switching the referring
devices we employ in identifying either an object or its attribute, we can
make the characterization just outlined yield the claim that one and the same
object exemplifies one and the same attribute both necessarily and non-
necessarily. Thus, if we stick with the labels 'Socrates' and 'mankind', the
characterization yields the desired consequence that Socrates exemplifies
mankind necessarily; Socrates belongs to the kind man and the proposition
that Socrates exists and fails to belong to man is necessarily false. But, now,
let us suppose that-Socrates is Aristotle's favorite example of a substance. The
proposition that the object that is Aristotle's favorite example of a substance
exists and fails to exemplify mankind, while false, is not necessarily false; for
surely it is possible that Aristotle's preferred example of a substance belong
to some other substance-kind. But, then, the analysis in question forces us to
say that the object that is Aristotle's favorite example of a substance does not
exemplify mankind essentially; Socrates, however, is Aristotle's favorite
example of a substance. It follows, then, that Socrates does not exemplify
mankind essentially; but since we have already used the analysis to show that
he does, the conclusion would seem to be that this attempt to explicate
essentialism lands us in contradictions.
This is a serious difficulty, but I do not think that it forces us to conclude
that the distinction between essential and accidental attributes is empty.
Alvin Plantinga has recently provided an account which gives the essentialist
grounds for thinking that the concept of de re modality can, after all, be clari-
fied in terms of the notion of de dicta modalityY According to Plantinga,
the attempt to explain the concept of de re modality in terms of the concept
of de dicta modality in the way just outlined meets with disaster only when
we employ definite descriptions as devices for referring to objects and their
attributes. As long as we limit the relevant referring expressions to proper
names of objects and what correspond to these in the case of attributes
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY 169

(expressions like 'mankind' and 'wisdom' as opposed to expressions like 'the


attribute held in highest esteem by humanists' and 'the attribute mentioned
on line 23, page 46 of From a Logical Point of View'), the characterization
set out above will never yield the consequence that an object exemplifies an
attribute both necessarily and contingently. Plantinga exploits this insight
claiming that an attribute, A, is exemplified necessarily by an object, x, just
in case
x exemplifies A and either
(a) the proposition that x exists and fails to exemplify A is necessarily
false (where the substituend-sets for 'x' and 'A' include only pro-
per names and not definite descriptions), or
(b) there is an object, y, and an attribute, B, such that x is identical
with y and A is identical with B and B is essential to y in the
sense of (a)
and that an object, x, exemplifies an attribute, A, contingently just in case x
exemplifies A, but x does not exemplify A essentially.
Given this modification of the characterization under consideration, So-
crates comes out exemplifying mankind essentially no matter which referring
devices one employs in identifying either Socrates or mankind; for Socrates
does exemplify mankind and the proposition that Socrates exists and fails to
exemplify mankind is necessarily false. But, then, provided that any expres-
sions we employ in identifying Socrates and mankind are devices for picking
out the objects referred to by 'Socrates' and 'mankind', the modified charac-
terization Plantinga presents will always force us to say that the attribute in
question is exemplified necessarily by the object in question.
Now, it might be thought that Plantinga's characterization of the de re
modalities is inadequate in that it allows an object to exemplify an attribute
essentially only in the case where both the object and the attribute have pro-
per names. In fact, this is not the case; for Plantinga's characterization makes
reference to propositions and not sentences; and since propositions are neces-
sary beings, they exist whether or not there are sentences to express them.
Thus, for any object, x, and any attribute, A, such that x exemplifies A essen
tially, there is a necessarily false proposition of the sort specified in part (a)
of Plantinga's characterization - a proposition to the effect that x exists and
fails to exemplify A. If x and A do not have proper names in a given language,
that language will not have a sentence that expresses that proposition; but the
proposition exists nonetheless, and that is all that Plantinga's account requires.
170 CHAPTER NINE

I am inclined to think, then, that Plantinga's account provides a perfectly


straightforward account of what is involved in the distinction between essen-
tial and contingent attributes, so that I am inclined to think that the commit-
ment to essentialism that is implicit in my account of substance is non-prob-
lematic. For those who are willing to take seriously the notion of possible
worlds, Plantinga provides another account of the distinction between attri-
butes essential to and those exemplified only contingently by objects. 13 He
tells us that an attribute, A, is essential to an object, x, just in case x exempli-
fies A in the actual world and in every world in which it exists and that an
attribute is exemplified contingently by an object just in case the object
exemplifies the attribute in the actual world and there is at least one possible
world in which the object exists and fails to exemplify that attribute. For the
philosopher who accepts a possible worlds ontology, this characterization of
the distinction between essential and merely contingent attributes is equiva-
lent to the characterization that explains the de re modalities in terms of the
de dicta modalities; and while I am willing to embrace a possible worlds
ontology, there are doubtless many philosophers who find such an ontology
problematic. They need not accept this possible worlds explanation of essen-
tialism; for them, however, the first account Plantinga outlines provides a
perfectly straightforward explanation of the claims of essentialism.

v. SUBSTANCES AND THEIR PARTS

Central to my account is the idea that substances are irreducible unities, that
they are not complexes reducible to more basic entities. But there is an
obvious difficulty here; for the things I have so far taken to be paradigmatic
substances - artifacts, plants, animals, and human beings - all have parts; and
this suggests that what I have called substances are mere complexes after all,
not complexes of metaphysical entities like properties or substrata, but com-
plexes of things the non-philosopher takes to be their parts. This difficulty
poses itself on two fronts; for there are the things that the layman takes to be
the parts of substances, their "commonsense" parts, and there are the things
the physicist tells us are constituents of every ordinary object - the various
micro-particles of contemporary physical theory. But whether one focuses on
the things the layman calls the parts of substances or on the micro-particles
of scientific theory, the result would appear to be the same: ordinary objects
fail to be the unities required by a substance-theory of substance; they are
rather complexes of more basic things.
This difficulty is on Aristotle's mind in the central books of the Meta-
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY 171

physics. As we have seen, Aristotle restricts the label 'substance' to objects


falling under natural as opposed to artificial kinds; and in the central books of
the Metaphysics, he tends to identify these objects with living beings - plants,
animals, and human beings. As he there confronts the difficulty the part-
whole constitution of living beings presents the substance-theorist, Aristotle
is concerned with the fact that living beings might be thought to be mere
wholes made up of their various organic parts - things like hands, livers, and
kidneys - which appear to be substances in their own right. What bothers
Aristotle is the possibility that substances could not be unities if they were
mere complexes of things that are themselves substances. The way he handles
the difficulty is by pointing out that the organic parts of living beings are
such that to specify what they are one must make a reference to the whole
living being whose parts they are. 14 Thus, to specify what a liver is, one must
identify its biological function; and that, Aristotle wants to say, requires a
reference to the role of the liver in the maintainance of the whole living being
to which it belongs. He wants to claim, then, that so far from being reducible
to their organic parts, living beings as wholes are prior to their organic parts.
He agrees that those parts can exist independently of the substances whose
organs they are. They are, then, virtual substances or substances in potency;
but according to Aristotle, when the organic parts of a substance exist inde-
pendently of the living being whose parts they are, they are no longer things
like livers, kidneys, and hands. A liver separated from a living being is, on
Aristotle's view, a liver in name only.1S Thus, as organic parts of living be-
ings, the parts of substances have a nature or essence that presupposes a refer-
ence to the wholes whose parts they are; and while they can exist in separa-
tion from those substances, qua existing apart, they are no longer the sorts of
things that can be the parts of living beings.
This sort of account can easily be extended to handle the commonsense
parts of artifacts. The legs of a chair, for example, are essentially parts of a
whole. To specify their nature or essence, one must make a reference to the
kind of whole to which they belong; but, then, they are not entities, among
others, to which we can reduce a chair; the whole is prior to and, therefore,
irreducible to its parts. The parts of artifacts can, of course, exist in separa-
tion from those artifacts; they are, then, virtual substances; but qua existing
apart, they are no longer things like legs of a chair or table-tops, but other
things - hunks of wood or pieces of plastic.
The basic idea of this extension of Aristotle's view, then, is that the parts
of ordinary objects are what they are only in relation to the wholes whose
parts they are. They are virtual substances; but when, in virtue of being
172 CHAPTER NINE

separated from the substances whose parts they are, they come to be actual
substances, they are no longer the kinds of things they were when they were
parts of ordinary objects. This sort of account works well enough in dispelling
the idea that ordinary objects are mere complexes of what the layman calls
their parts; but it is unclear how it can be extended to handle the things the
physicist calls the parts of substances; for the micro-objects he points to -
things like molecules, atoms, and quanta - are objects of kinds whose nature
can be apprehended independently of any reference to the wholes they con-
stitute. Indeed, the very point of positing such objects is to provide an ex-
planation of how it is that the stuffs they are supposed to constitute have the
natures they do. How can a substance-theorist accomodate the scientist's
account of ordinary macro-objects as complexes of micro-objects?
Well, one strategy here is simply to deny that the claims of the scientist
have any ontological force. While granting that the scientist's account plays
an important role in enabling him to move from a set of observational pre-
mises to a set of observational conclusions, one can insist that his micro-
objects are mere instrumental fictions. One can deny, that is, that the physic-
ist's talk of micro-objects forces us to hold that ordinary objects are literally
composed of things like molecules, atoms, and quanta; one can hold that the
scientist's reference to these "entities" is a mere piece of calculational ma-
chinery invoked to expedite scientific predictions, retrodictions, and the like.
The sort of instrumentalism that underlies this response is an approach
with which. I have some sympathy; but it is one that few other philosophers
nowadays take seriously. Most philosophers who confront the framework of
scientific explanation want to interpret the theoretical entities of science
realistically and to hold that to have good reasons for accepting a scientific
theory is eo ipso to have good reasons for thinking that the micro-objects it
postulates actually exist. But even the substance-theorist who accepts this
realistic interpretation of scientific theories has the resources for defending
his account of substance. Indeed, there are at least two different ways in
which he might accomodate the idea that ordinary objects are complexes of
micro-objects within a substance-theory of substance.
First, he can invoke a modified version of Aristotle's account of the parts
of living substances. While agreeing that ordinary objects are literally com-
posed of the micro-objects postulated by contemporary physics, he can hold
that, qua constituting ordinary objects, these micro-objects are only virtual
substances. He can insist that it is only when they exist in separation from the
wholes they constitute that they are truly self-subsistent entities. Then, he
can go on and argue that while ordinary objects are made up of micro-objects,
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY 173

they cannot be thought of as mere complexes of micro-objects. To constitute


a human being, for example, the micro-objects of physics must first constitute
the various parts of a human being - his liver, kidneys, etc. But, then, invok-
ing Aristotle's contention that the organic parts of a living being are posterior
to the living being as a whole, he can conclude that since a substance as a
whole is prior to its commonsense parts, the fact that those parts are com-
posed of micro-objects of the sort specified by the physicist is insufficient to
establish the reductionistic conclusion that ordinary objects are mere heaps,
swarms, or clusters of micro-particles.
Second, the substance-theorist can agree that ordinary objects are mere
heaps of scientific objects and not substances in their own right; but he can
go on to insist that the micro-particles out of which they are composed are
themselves substances and, therefore, subject to a characterization in terms
of the concepts providea by their proper substance-kinds, e.g., kinds like
atom and quantum. The philosopher who takes this approach accepts Aris-
totle's account of the irredUCibly kinded and, therefore, unified nature of
particular substances but argues that Aristotle misapplied the framework of a
substance ontology when he took ordinary objects to be the paradigmatic
substances. Thus, even extreme scientific realists (among whom I do not
number myself) can accept a theory of substance that is Aristotelian in spirit
if not in detail; they need only insist that whatever objects the scientist takes
to be the building-blocks of reality must be characterized in terms of a frame-
work of substance-kinds.

VI. GENERA AND SPECIES

I have said that every substance belongs to a substance-kind; and following


Aristotle's suggestion that ordinary objects (rather than scientific objects) are
paradigmatic substances, I have used as my examples of substance-kinds
universals like geranium, mankind, and amoeba. Now, these are all substance-
kinds which Aristotle classified as infimae species or lowest level kinds; each
of them is the terminus-point of a hierarchy of more general substance-kinds.
Thus, geranium is subordinated to the higher level kind plant in that every-
thing that is a member of the former is a member of the latter, but not vice
versa; and plant, in turn, is subordinated to the still higher level or more
general kind living being in that everything that is a member of the former is a
member of the latter, but not vice versa. Aristotle called the kinds to which
infimae species are subordinated generic substance-kinds ;16 and he maintained
that all the hierarchies of substance-kinds ultimately terminate in a single
174 CHAPTER NINE

kind, that of substance. There is, he held, no kind more general than sub-
stance to which individual substances belong. Substance, then, is a summum
genus or highest level kind. On Aristotle's view, terms like 'object' and 'entity'
which are more general than 'substance' do not express kinds. 17 Indeed,
Aristotle wants to claim that these terms (the so<alled transcendental or uni-
versally applicable terms) are not even univocally applied to objects that are
and objects that are not substances. 18
I shall not develop Aristotle's views on the impossibility of transcendental
genera; but I want to point to a misunderstanding that the phenomenon of
kind-subordination is likely to engender. Confronted with the fact that every
infima species or lowest level substance-kind is subordinated to more general
kinds, one might think that substance-kinds like mankind, geranium, and
amoeba are merely derivative universals. One might think that to be a gera-
nium, for example, is simply to be a plant with certain properties and that to
be a plant, in turn, is simply to be a substance with certain properties. The
Aristotelian picture of definition only reinforces the temptation of think of
infimae species in these reductive terms; for Aristotle tells us that to define a
substance-kind, K, one points to the kind, K', to which it is immediately
subordinated and specifies, along with K', some property that marks the
members of K off from those members of K' that do not belong to K. The
suggestion to which this account gives rise is that it is only when we have
reached the kind substance that we have a substance-kind that stands on its
own two feet; it and it alone is a basic or non-derivative substance-kind; all
other substance-kinds are really dispensible in an account of what there is.
Now, Aristotle is aware that his account of definition suggests this picture
of the derivative status of lower level substance-kinds, and he is anxious to
counter the picture; for it presents us once again with a threat to the supposed
unity of individual substances. Substances, on this picture, turn out to be
complexes of the very abstract universal substance and a series of differentiat-
ing properties. In countering this picture, Aristotle employs what I take to be
a sound strategy. He tells us that while definition plays an important epis-
temological role in providing us w;ch an analytic tool for understanding sub-
stance-kinds, it is easy to misuse that tool; for while it may be true that from
the epistemological perspective of definition generic kinds are prior to infimae
species, ontologically it is infimae species that are basic or fundamental.
The possibility of defining lowest level kinds by reference to generic kinds
suggests that the ontolOgical structure of substances involves the exemplifica-
tion, first, of a very general kind and, second, of a series of ever more specific
differentiating properties. But, according to Aristotle, this sort of account has
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY 175

things backwards; it takes higher level kinds as basic and construes infimae
species as universals formed from generic universals by the supplementation
of differentiating properties. For Aristotle, however, objects are first and
foremost members of a variety of infimae species and because they agree in
various ways, they can be classified according to higher level kinds. Aristotle
wants to claim, then, that we go wrong if we suppose that it is in virtue of
belonging to generic kinds that objects fall under specific kinds. On the con-
trary, he holds that it is because objects from different infimae species agree
in various ways that they fall under the generic kinds to which we speak of
their infimae species as subordinated.
Aristotle makes this point by saying that no genus exists apart from its
species;19 and what he means here is that nothing is just a member of a genus.
To be a member of a genus is to be a member of one of the infimae species
subordinated to it. Thus, there is no such thing as an animal simpliciter; to be
an animal is to be a cat, a dog, a human being, or .... On Aristotle's view,
then, ordinary objects do not fall under their infunae species because they fall
under the genefa to which they are subordinated; it is, on the contrary, only
because they fall under infimae species that they are members of the relevant
generic kinds. Thus, although in definition, we analyze infimae species in
terms of the higher level kinds to which they are immediately subordinated,
infimae species are ontologically prior to their genera; generic kinds are an
abstraction from the ontologically more basic lowest level kinds.

VII. INDIVIDUAL ESSENCES

Now, this account of the ontolOgical primacy of infimae species among sub-
stance-kinds raises the question of whether lowest level substance-kinds are
the ontologically most basic attributes that substances exemplify essentially.
We have said that to be an animal is to be a cat, a dog, or a human being and
that it is impossible to exemplify the kind animal without exemplifying one
of these more specific kinds; but, then, can we stop with the claim that
infimae species are the least general attributes which substances exemplify
essentially? Is it not plausible to think that there are even less general attri-
butes exemplified essentially by substances which limit or determine lowest
level substance-kinds in just the way that those kinds limit or determine
generic substance-kinds? Traditionally, Aristotelians have denied that there
are any such attributes; they have held that the attributes exemplified essen-
tially by a given substance are exemplified essentially by all the other sub-
stances which belong to the same lowest level substance-kind. On this view,
176 CHAPTER NINE

essences are kind-invariant; and the various features in terms of which objects
of the same infima species differ are exemplified only contingently. But
opposed to this Aristotelian notion of general essences is the view (held most
prominently by Leibniz)20 that each substance has an individual essence, an
attribute which is exemplified essentially by that substance and which no
other object could possibly exemplify. The paradigms of individual essences
on this view are the various identity-attributes (e.g., being identical with
Socrates and being identical with Plato) that we have already encountered on
several occasions. On this view, each substance has its own identity attribute;
it could not exist and fail to exemplify that attribute and, fmally, it is impos-
sible for an entity distinct from that substance to exemplify that attribute
either essentially or contingently. Frequently, defenders of individual essences
invoke the framework of possible worlds here, telling us that each existing
object exemplifies its individual essence in the actual world and in every pos-
sible world in which it exists and that no object distinct from it exemplifies
that attribute in any possible world.
Now, it might be thOUght that this view (I shall call it Leibnizian essen-
tialism) is incompatible with the approach to substance that I have sketched
out in this chapter. In fact, this is at most only partially true. Even if it
turns out that each substance exemplifies an individual essence of the sort
I have described, it remains the case that substances fall under kinds, so
that one can still appeal to substance-kinds in escaping the dilemma of
individuation. If there are such essences, one can, of course, also circumvent
the dilemma by invoking them (in the way that Wolterstorff does); but as
we have seen, the outright appeal to attributes like the property of being
Socrates and the property of being Plato represents such a radical departure
from the reductionistic framework underlying the dilemma that it is not
likely to prove very convincing to philosophers who, like the traditional
bundle and substratum theorist, simply take that framework for granted.
Thus, even if the defender of Leibnizian essentialism is right, my strategy
for dealing with the dilemma of individuation remains the most effective
way of pointing out the inadequacies of the views leading to (I1*) and bare
substrata. But while the truth of Leibnizian essentialism would not call
into question my response to the dilemma of individuation, it would seem
to point to an incompleteness in my version of the substance-theory of
substance; for if each substance exemplifies an individual essence, then my
claim that lowest level substance-kinds furnish the ontologist with concepts
of full-fledged substances would seem to be wrong. If the Leibnizian view
is correct, then the ontologist would seem to be able to provide a complete
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY 177

account of what is involved in being a substance only if he goes beyond


substance-kinds to the individual essences which the Leibnizian claims limit
or determine them. The questions with which I want to conclude this chapter
are, first, whether it is necessary to enrich the Aristotelian framework I
have been employing with Leibnizian essences and, second, if it is, whether
this fact points to an inherent inadequacy in the Aristotelian approach to
substance.
As regards the first question, it seems to me that we have no choice but to
embrace Leibnizian essentialism. Obviously, it is true of Socrates, for exam-
ple, that he is Socrates; and this means that he exemplifies some attribute -
the attribute of being identical with Socrates. Furthermore, the proposition
that Socrates exists and fails to exemplify the attribute of being identical
with Socrates is necessarily false. That means that Socrates exemplifies being
identical with Socrates essentially or necessarily. But this attribute is also
unique to him and necessarily so; for nothing other than Socrates is Socrates
and it is impossible for something which is not Socrates to be identical with
Socrates. But, then, being identical with Socrates conforms to the require-
ments for being an individual essence. The same form of argument, however,
holds in the case of every substance, so that we get the general Leibnizian
conclusion that every substance has an individual essence.
Leibnizian essentialism, then, is true; but the ease with which we establish-
ed the doctrine should make us suspicious of the claim that its truth has any
deep significance for the ontologist seeking to understand the structure of
substance. Individual essences enable the ontologist to clarify the notion of
a substance only if it is possible for him to identify in nontrivial terms the
uniquely individuating component in virtue of which the individual essences
associated with one and the same lowest level substance-kind differ. But it is
unclear that this is possible. What, for example, is it to exemplify the attri-
bute of being identical with Socrates? Presumably, it is to be a living substance
of a certain kind - a human being; but, of course, there has to be more here,
some uniquely individuating feature in virtue of which being identical with
Socrates is an attribute distinct from being identical with Plato and being
identical with Aristotle. It is difficult, however, to see how we can identify
this additional component except in the most blatantly circular terms - as
the attribute of being identical with Socrates. Now, Leibnizians have appre-
ciated this difficulty. Leibniz, for example, agreed that in any but the trivial
sense just indicated, individual essences are hidden from us. Nonetheless, he
insisted that their uniquely individuating content would be apprehended by
an omniscient being. According to Leibniz, "God seeing the individual concept
178 CHAPTER NINE

of" a substance "sees at the same time the basis and the reason of all the
predicates that can be truly uttered regarding,,21 that substance.
I shall not bother to evaluate this very strong claim; for even if individual
essences have the richly individuating conceptual content Leibniz claimed for
them, the fact that that content is hidden from us has the consequence that
reflection on individual essences will not contribute much to the ontologist's
understanding of substance. But, then, while the Aristotelian is wrong in
denying ontological status to individual essences, the fact that we cannot non-
circularly identify just what it is that they add to the content of the infimae
species they limit or determine shows that for all practical purposes the
Aristotelian framework is rich enough for understanding the ontological
structure of substances. Infimae species may not be the least general attri-
butes that substances exemplify essentially; but from the perspective of the
finite, human ontologist, this is a difference that makes no difference. 22

NOTES

1 Pretty clearly, this extension of the distinction between what is pure and impure
requires a definition slightly different from that outlined in Chapter Seven. The defIni-
tion, I suggest, goes as follows: an entity, a, is impure just in case there is some relation,
R, and some substance, s, such that necessarily, for any object, x, a is a constituent of x
if and only if x enters into R with s; whereas, an entity, a, is pure just in case a is not
impure.
2 See, e.g., Hurruzn Knowledge, p. 295. In the light of Russell's very elaborate attempt
(discussed at the end of Chapter Seven) to show the truth of (II*), this is a shocking
claim. The reader of Russell's writings, however, soon learns to expect such inconsis-
tencies in Russell's work.
3
'Universals, Particulars, and Predication,' pp. 89-9l.
4 'Bergmann's Constituent Ontology,' Noux, 1970, pp. 109-134.
5 'This (not very novel) interpretation of Aristotle's view is suggested by his definition
of "present in" at la 23-24. For an alternative interpretation, see G. E. L. Owen's'In-
herence,' Phronesis, 1965, pp. 97-109.
6 See, e.g., Metaphysics Z.l (l028a 34-1028b 1).
7 In fact, I shall not discuss Aristotle's interpretation of universals outside the category
of substance. Once we recognize the individuating role of substance-kinds, the question
of whether or not properties and relations are identical in their instatiations becomes, I
am inclined to think, a decision-question. I am inclined to take a non-Aristotelian analy-
sis of properties; but I have no knock-down argument against the Aristotelian view which
interprets properties as kinds whose members are their individual instantiations. My
only reasons for accepting the approach I do are first, that the Aristotelian account
seems to me to place us on the "slippery slope" back to nominalism: and second, that I
find it redundant to recognize both properties construed as universals and their indivi-
dual instantiations when it is possible to recognize only properties construed as universals.
TOWARDS A SUBSTANCE-THEORY 179

For a contemporary Aristotelian approach to properties, see Wolterstorffs On Univer-


sals, especially Chapter 11.
8 The thesis of the incompleteness of identity-statements (found in writers like Geach,
Anscombe, and Wiggins) might seem to provide such an a priori argument; but in fact,
even Wiggins' account (the most "ontological" of the lot) has, I think, only the epis-
temological consequence that we cannot think of objects except as falling under sub-
stance-kinds; but to have shown this is not to have shown that substances do, in fact,
irreducibly fall under kinds.
9 See, e.g., Categories 5 as well as Metaphysics Z and H passim. But while much that
Aristotle says about substance points in the direction of this sort of anti-reductionistic
view, his doctrine of the hylomorphic structure of substance frequently leads him to
make claims that are (at least apparently). opposed to a holistic account of substance.
10 Unfortunately, I have to number myself among them; See my paper 'The Concept of
a Kind,' Philosophical Studies, 1976, pp. 55-56. I am, however, in good company here
since Ockham makes the same mistake. See Summa Logicae 11.9 in Summa Logicae, ed.
by Boehner, Gal, and Brown (St. Bonaventure, New York: Franciscan Institute Publica-
tions), 1974, where Ockham explicitly accepts this account.
II See, e.g., Quine's Word and Object, pp. 199-200.
12 See 'De Re et De Dicto,' Nous, 1969, pp. 235-258. See also The Nature of Neces-
sity, pp. 27-43. Plantinga does not take his account to be an elimination of the de re in
terms of the de dicto. Indeed, he believes that we could construe the ascription of de
dicto modality as a special case of ascribing de re modality; for to say that a proposition
is necessary is to say that it has essentially the property of being true. The account he
provides is rather an attempt to show the philosopher who has no problems with de
dicto modality, but is sceptical about de re modality, that for every ascription of de re
modality there is an equivalent ascription of de dicto modality.
13 Ibid., pp. 44-69. See also 'World and Essence,' pp. 355-357.
14 Metaphysics Z. 16 (l040b 5-7).
IS Ibid., 1040b 10-16. Obviously, the notion of 'separate existence" has to be inter-
preted sufficiently loosely to accommodate phenomena like that of the transplanted
organ.
16 For those interested in a formal characterization of the notion of a kind, we can
explain what a lowest level substance-kind is if we say that an object, x, is a lowest level
substance-kind just in case (1) x is pure, (2) x is a universal, (3) objects exemplify x by
belonging to x, (4) x is exemplifiable exclusively by substances, (5) it is impossible to
exemplify x without exemplifying x essentially and (6) there is no object,y, such thaty
satisfies (1)- (5) and restricts x (where the notion of restriction is so understood that a
universal, U, restricts a universal, U', if and only if (a) it is necessarily true that if an
object exemplifies U, it essentially or necessarily exemplifies U' as well and (b) it is
possible that there be objects exhibiting U' which do not exhibit U). Let us call lowest
level substance-kinds, K I'S. We can extend this characterization to provide a recursive
procedure for characterizing generic substance-kinds of any level, n, of generality by
saying that an object, x, is a generic substance-kind of level n, a K n , just in case x satis-
fies (1 )-(5), (7) x is an open universal (where the notion of openness is so understood
that a universal is open if and only if it is possible for a person to know how to apply the
concept of that universal without knowing how many universals restrict it), and (8) the
only universals which restrict x and satisfy (1)-(5) are KI'S, K2 's, . .. , Kn_I's or disjunctive
180 CHAPTER NINE

universals whose disjuncts are K I'S, K2'S, ... , Kn-I'S. For a more detailed explanation
of each of these conditions, and for the rationale behind them, see 'The Concept of a
Kind,' Philosophical Studies, 1976, pp. 53-61.
17 See, e.g., Metaphysics B.3 (99Sb 21-2S).
18 See, e.g., Metaphysics r.2 (l003a 33-1003b 11) and Z.1 (l02Sa lO-30).
19 See, eg., Metaphysics Z.14 for a discussion of this thesis. (See also Metaphysics I.S,
especially lO5Sa I-S).
20 And in our own day by Alvin Plantinga. See, e.g., The Nature of Necessity, Chap-
ter V.
21 Discourse on Metaphysics (La Salle, illinois: Opencourt), 1945, p. 14.
22 In this respect, I think that the "individual" essences of attributes differ from those
of substances. The former have, whereas the latter do not, conceptual content which is
accessible to us. It is this difference which makes it possible to provide a non-trivial
account of the identity-conditions of universals by saying, as I did in Chapter V, that a
universal, U, is identical with a universal, U', just in case for every possible world, W,
every attribute exemplified by U in W is exemplified by U' in Wand vice versa.
EPILOGUE

My aim has been to understand the ontological presuppositions of the tradi-


tional distinction between substance and attribute. The investigations of Parts
One and Two, however, point to an interesting parallel; for it turns out that
the ontology underlying neither of the concepts at work in the traditional
dichotomy can be understood in reductive terms. In Chapter Four of Part
One, I examined the various attempts of extreme nominalists and nominalists
to show how truths about attributes can be construed as truths about meta-
physically less problematic things; and I concluded that all of these attempts
fail. The concept of an attribute must be understood in terms of the notion
of multiple exemplification. Attributes are or include multiply exemplifiable
objects; and unlike their surrogates in the ontologies of the nominalist and
extreme nominalist, they are necessary beings: they exist in every possible
world; they are ingenerable and incorruptible and are not subject to what, in
the strict sense, we call change. In Part Two, I explored problems about the
ontological structure of substances, and I examined in detail the accounts of
substance provided by the bundle theorist and the substratum theorist. In the
end, I concluded that the reductionistic framework of constituents and wholes
which underlies both accoun~s is an incoherent backdrop for understanding
substance. Substances are not wholes whose constituents are exhausted by
the various properties we associate with them; nor are they collections of
properties supported by an underlying substrate. Substances, I argued, must
be construed as metaphysically basic entities, as things that are not reducible
to anything ontologically more fundamental.
The common theme of Parts One and Two, then, is that neither member
of the traditional dichotomy of substance and attribute is susceptible to
reductive analysis; and the results of this common theme are, respectively,
a Platonistic theory of attributes and an Aristotelian theory of substance.
Such a combination of views is likely to appear puzzling to many philos-
ophers; for these two theories have seldom been combined in the history of
metaphysics. There is an implicit assumption, dating back to the work of
Plato and Aristotle themselves and dominating most subsequent work in
metaphysics, that there is some sort of tension between a thorough-going
Platonism with respect to attributes and an Aristotelian account of substance.
181
182 EPILOGUE

To accept either of these accounts, metaphysicians have typically assumed, is


to commit oneself to a rejection of the other. What I hope I have shown is,
first, that the conjunction of these two accounts results in a consistent onto-
logical framework and, second, that their conjunction is a requirement of a
satisfactory account of the ontology underlyin~ the traditional dichotomy of
substance and attribute. Finally, I hope to have shown where the bridge
between these two accounts is located. It is the notion of a lowest level
substance-kind that provides the link between a Platonistic theory of attri-
butes and an Aristotelian theory of substance. Among the various multiply
exemplifiable entities that fall under the general heading of attribute are the
infunae species to which substances belong. They are irreducible to attributes
of other types and they provide us with concepts of fully articulated indivi-
dual substances. It is because they exemplify one of these inhabitants of
"Plato's heaven" that ordinary objects are irreducible wholes, the kinds of
unities the plain man takes them to be.
INDEX OF NAMES

Allaire, E. 143-146 Leibniz, G. 176-179


Anscombe, G. E. M. 179n. Locke, J. 111-113,119n.
Aristotle IOn., 13, 30-33, 92, 107,
110-111, 119n., 159-162, 165, Montague, R. 103-104n.
170-175, 178n., 179n., 181 Moore, G. E. 13
Armstrong, D. 42n.
Ayer, A. J. 115 Owen, G. E. L. 41n., 178n.

Baker, R. 152n. Pap,A. 88n.


Bambrough, R. 20, 53n. Parmenides, 11-12n., 22-23, 49
Baylis, C. 49 Pears, D. 21-22,53n.
Bergmann, G. 4, 13, 15, 19-20, 26, Plantinga, A. x,17, 93, 103n., 168-170,
27-29, 40n., 92, 112, 138n., 140ff., 179n.
152n,.156 Plato 4, IOn., 13, 22-23,49,92,97-
Berkeley, G. 114,131, 165 99,103, 181
Black, M. 138n. Price, H. H. 53n.
Bolton, M. 119n. Putnam, H. 40-41n.
Bradley, F. H. 41n.
Butchvarov, P. 46n. Quine, W. V. 7, 17-18, 42n., 54-61,
66-67,76,86,99-101
Cargile, J. x
Carnap, R. 76, 78-80, 86 Russell, B. 4, 13, 15, 19-20, 40n., 44-
Castaneda,H. 123,152n. 47,112, 115, 122, 123, 129, 134-
137, 138n., 156-157, 165, 178n.
Donagan, A. 13-15, 21-22, 41n., 46- Ryle, G. 41n.
47,92
Searle, J. 28-33,42n.
Foley, R. 88n. Sellars, W. x, 8, 37-38, 41n., 42-43n.,
Frege, G. 13,29-30, 40n. 59-60,80-85,86,87,146-147
Socrates, 4, 22-23,49
Geach, P. 179n. Stout, G. F. 73-74,88n.
Goodman, N. 76,88n. Strawson, P. F. 4, 13, 27, 30-33,40n.,
41n.
Hochberg, H. 115, 122-123, 137n.,
157 Turnbull, R. x
Hurne, D. 114,131,165
Wiggins, D. 179n.
Kessler, G. x Williams, D. C. 5-6, 11n., 33-35, 50-
Kripke, S. 103n. 51,73-74,122-123,131

183
184 INDEX OF NAMES

Wittgenstein,1. 19-21. Woozley, A. D. 5


Wolterstorff, N. x, 11 n., 12n., 26, 30-
33, 64-65, 88n., 157-158, 165, Zeno 26
176, 179n.
INDEX OF SUBJECTS

abstract general terms 75 - 77 116-117, 118, 126-130, 153-


abstract singular terms 154
and predication 31-33, 38-40
and resemblance 52 causal theory of kind-terms 40-41n.,
extreme nominalists' interpretation 103n.
of 38-39, 65-73, 86 causal theory of names 130
nominalistic interpretation of 73-77, classes 55-61, 87n., (see also sets)
86 collocation 122
metalinguistic interpretation of 77- color-words 3-4, 22, 28
85,86 combination 122-123
realistic interpretation of 9-10, 39- compresence 122
40,52,54,61-65,86-87,90,91 conceptualism IOn.
uses of 61-65 concrete general terms 61, 62-73
acquaintance, principle of 115, 144 connotation 32
analyticity 12n., 37-38, 137n. consignification 34, 42n.
artifacts 103, 161 constituents and wholes: see identity,
attributes bundle theory, substratum theory ,
agreement in 3ff., 11n., 89-90, 117, substance theory, modified sub-
118-119,131-137 stratum theory
categories of 5, 11 n. consubstantiation 123
identity-conditions for 82-85, 99- contingent beings 95,96,107,116,117-
101,104n. 118, 137n., 142, 153-154, 167
individual 3, 4, 5-6,l1n., 14, 33-35,
50-51, 73-77, 88n., 159-160, de re and de dicto 167-170, 179n.
178n. dot quotation 80-85
(see also extreme nominalism, nomi-
nalism, metaphysical realism, essences, individual 101, 132, 134, 150-
predication, quantification, re- 151,158,176-178,180n.
semblance, and abstract singular essentialism 103, 146-149, 154, 167-
terms) 170, 179n.
essentialism, Leibnizian 132, 134, 176-
bundle theory of substance 178
and contingency 116, 117-118, exemplification: see attributes, individual
121-123,153-154 essences, essentialism, Leibnizian
and empiricism 112-115 essentialism, extreme nominalism,
and identity through change 116, forms, instantiations, kinds, meta-
118,124-126,153-154 physical realism, nominalism,
and individuation 11 7, 118, 131- predication, properties, relations,
137,153-158,165-166 quantification, resemblance, tran-
and subject-predicate discourse 113, scendentals

185
186 INDEX OF SUBJECTS

exploded objects 66-67, 86 tion, quantification, resemblance)


expressing 32-33, 41-42n. modified substratum theory
extensionalism 36-38 and individuation 149-152
extreme nominalism 4,6-7,8-10,35- and infinite regresses 151-152
40, 45,51-52, 65-73, 181; (see triviality of 149-150
also abstract singular terms,
attributes, predication, quantifica- necessary beings 94-98,116,117-118,
tion, resemblance) 120n., 121-123, 153-154, 167
nominalism 4, 5-6,8-10, Un., 14,33-
forms 4, IOn., 11-12n., 22-24 35, 37,45-46, 50-51, 73-77,
131-132, 181; (see also abstract
identity singular terms, attributes, predica-
conditions of, for attributes 99-101, tion, resemblance)
l04n. numbers
conditions of, for material bodies and natural 102
persons 101 real 59-60, 102
judgments of 101
of constituents and wholes 117, particulars: see artifacts, individual
118-119, 124-126, 126-130, attributes, bundle theory, iden-
131-132, 138n., 140-141, 155- tity, individuation, instantiations,
158,159ff. modified substratum theory, sub-
of indiscernibles, principle of 117, stratum theory, substance theory,
118, 131-137, 138n., 155-157, virtual substances
159,163, 164, 166 parts and wholes 170-173
through time 107,116,118 Platonism: see metaphysical realism
immutability 98-99 possible worlds 92-101, 103n., 157,
incorruptibllity 97-98, 116, 123 170,176
individuation 117, 118-119, 131-137, predicates
140-152, 152n., 153ft'. (see ambiguous 16-17
also bundle theory, identity, deviant 17-18
substratum theory, substance simple vs. complex 15-16, 19-20
theory, modified substratum predication
theory) and infmite regresses 22-27,34-35,
ingenerability 97-98,116,123 77
instantiations 15 8ff., 17 8n. and naming 27-28
instrumentalism 172 extreme nominalists' interpretation
of 35-40
kinds 5, 32, 75-77, 86, 89, 160ft'., nominalistic interpretation of 33-35
179-180n., 182, et passim realistic interpretation of 9, 13ft'.,
49-50,90
linguistic rules 43,80 properties 5, 32, 89, 107ff., 121ff.,
140ft'., 153ff., 159-160, 164-
material equivalence 83-85 165, et passim
metaphysical realism 4-5, 8-10, 13ft'., propositions 12n., 13, 15,93,167-169,
44ff., 54ff., 89ff., 117, 131-132, et passim
160, 181-182; (see also abstract pure and impure objects 132-137,151,
singular terms, attributes, predica- 155, 157-158, 161, 165, 178n.
INDEX OF SUBJECTS 187

quantification substance: see bundle theory, identity,


and ontological commitment 54-61, substratum theory, modified sub-
87n.,91 stratum theory, substance theory
referential interpretation of 57-61 substance theory of substance 163ff.,
substitutional interpretation of 58- 181-182
60, 87n. substratum theory of substance
and contingency 117-118,123,142,
reduplication 71-7 3 153-154
relations 5,25-27, 32, 89,164-165, et and empiricism 112-113, 143-146
passim and identity through change 118,
resemblance 124-126,142,153-154
alleged incompleteness of 47-49 and individuation 118-119, 140-
alleged noneliminability of 44-47 152,153-158
and infinite regresses 45-46,51,77 and subject-predicate discourse 118,
extreme nominalists' interpretation 127-128,143-144,153-154
of48,51-52 inconsistency of 146-148, 154-156
nominalistic interpretation of 45-46, supposition 33-34, 42n.
50-51
realistic interpretation of 9, 44ff., theoretical simplicity 8, 12n., 25, 35,
90-91 51,65, 88n., 119
transcendentality of 47-48,91 time 97-99, 107, 124-126, 132, 134,
135-137,138n., 142
satisfaction, 30-33, 36-38, 41-42n., transcendentals 47-48,91,93-94,174
67,68,71 types and tokens 79
scientific realism 172-173
self-predication 23-24, 29, 94 universals: see abstract singular terms,
semantic uniformity, principle of 63- attributes, conceptualism, ex-
64,73,84,86 treme nominalism, forms, identity,
sets 66, 73-75, 76, 86, 87n., 91, 100, kinds, metaphysical realism, prop-
121-122; (see also classes) erties, predication, quantification,
signification 42n. relations, resemblance, transcen-
simples40n., 133,151 dentals
space 107,132,134,135-137,138n. use and mention 17-18, 21-22, 36
species and Genera 162, 173-178, 182
subsistents 152n. virtualsubstances 171-173
PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES SERIES
IN PHILOSOPHY

Editors:
WILFRID SELLARS, Univ. of Pittsburgh and KEITH LEHRER, Univ. of Arizona

Board of Consulting Editors:


Jonathan Bennett, Alan Gibbard, Robert Stalnaker, and Robert G. Turnbull

1. JAY F. ROSENBERG, Linguistic Representation. 1974, xii + 159 pp.


2. WILFRID SELLARS, EsSllYs in Philosophy and Its History. 1974, xiii + 462 pp.
3. DICKINSON S. MILLER, Philosophical Analysis and Human Welfare. Selected
Essays and Chapters from Six Decades. Edited with an Introduction by Lloyd D.
Easton. 1975, x + 333 pp.
4. KEITH LEHRER (ed.>, Analysis and Metaphysics. Essays in Honor of R. M.
Chisholm. 1975, x + 317 pp.
5. CARL GINET, Knowledge, Perception, and Memory. 1975, viii + 212 pp.
6. PETER H. HARE and EDWARD H. MADDEN, Causing, Perceiving and Believing. An
Examination of the Philosophy of C. J. Ducasse. 1975, vii + 211 pp.
7. HECTOR-NERI CASTANEDA. Thinking and Doing. The Philosophical Foundations
ofInstitutions. 1975, xviii + 366 pp.
8. JOHN L. POLLOCK, Subjunctive Reasoning. 1976, xi + 255 pp.
9. BRUCE AUNE. Reason and Action. 1977. xi+206 pp.

10. GEORGE SCHLESINGER. Religion and Scientific Method, vii+203 pp.


II. YIRMIAHU YOVEL. Philosophy of History and Action. Papers presented at the
first Jerusalem Philosophical Encounter, December 1974. Forthcoming.
12. JOSEPH C. PITT, The Philosophy of Wilfrid Sellars: Queries and Extensions.
Forthcoming.
13. ALVIN I. GOLDMAN and JAEGWON KIM, Values and Morals. Essays in Honor of
William Frankena, Charles Stevenson, and Richard Brandt. Forthcoming.