Metaphysics and nominalism


A biologist can study oak trees and learn about oakness and more generally the intelligible order within the sensible world. But the things that are white, e. From every point of view, the overwhelming and portentous character ascribed to universal conceptions is surprising.

There is no standard definition of the phrase. But, again, it is not in virtue of being abstract, i. Similarly, someone who rejected universals or abstract objects but were agnostic about the existence of particulars or concrete objects would count as a nominalist.

Metaphysicians are interested in the nature of objects and their properties, and the relationship between the two see the sections on Realism and Nominalism. Let PW be a theory that postulates possible worlds.

Nominalism in Metaphysics

But this seems to be a necessary connection between two wholly distinct entities, the universals methane and carbon. For the state of affairs that Rab where R is any non-symmetrical relation necessitates that b exists, which seems to be a necessary connection between wholly distinct existences.

Admittedly these arguments do not conclusively establish Nominalism but, if they work, they show an explanatory lacuna in Platonism. Thus the property of scarlet things is the class of things that are scarlet in any possible world.

Armstrong[ edit ] The Australian philosopher David Malet Armstrong has been one of the leading realists in the twentieth century, and has used a concept of universals to build a naturalistic and scientifically realist ontology.

For Stalnaker possible worlds are ways the world might have been and such ways are properties7. Socrates, cannot have any instances. The nature of the mind and its relation to the body has also exercised the best brains for millennia. Defining abstract objects simply as causally inert objects also presents problems see, for example, the entry on abstract objects.

There have been other proposals as to how to characterise abstract objects.

Problem of universals

This is a member of a species and it has much in common with other oak trees, past, present and future. The actual world includes every actual state of affairs Plantinga a, ; b, Put another way, only actual physical particulars are real, and universals exist only subsequent to particular things, being just verbal abstractions.

Within Western Philosophy, Philosophy of Religionand theology in general, reached its peak with Medieval Christian schools of thought like Scholasticism. Since Nominalism rejects abstract objects because of their non-spatiotemporality and their causal inertness, Nominalism also rejects non-concrete objects.

On another version of the theory there are no properties, but what makes scarlet things scarlet is that they satisfy certain resemblance conditions. There are some, although it must be said that some of the most famous deniers of abstract objects have not always based their rejection on arguments.

The motivation for this flows from several concerns, the first one being where they might exist.Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of existence, being and the world.

Nominalism holds that there is really no such thing as abstract objects, which really exist only as names, because a single object cannot exist in.


Philosophy: Metaphysics > Nominalism. Nominalism is the doctrine that abstract concepts, general terms or universals have no independent existence but exist only as killarney10mile.comore, various objects labeled by the same term have nothing in common but their name.

Put another way, only actual physical particulars are real, and universals. Nominalism and realism are the two most distinguished positions in western metaphysics dealing with the fundamental structure of reality. According to realists, all entities can be grouped into two categories: particulars and universals.

Nominalists instead argue that there are only particulars. Nominalism comes in at least two varieties. In one of them it is the rejection of abstract objects; in the other it is the rejection of universals.

Philosophers have often found it necessary to postulate either abstract objects or universals. And so Nominalism in one form or another has played a.

Metaphysics shares a breadth of problems concerning ‘universals’. One view that addresses these problems is nominalism. Nominalism is the position that universals do not exist outside the mind. In metaphysics, the problem of universals refers to the question of whether properties exist, and if so, what they are.

Properties are qualities or relations that two or more entities have in common. The various kinds of properties, such as qualities and relations, are referred to as universals.

Metaphysics and nominalism
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