1st Edition

Universals, Concepts and Qualities New Essays on the Meaning of Predicates

By P.F. Strawson, Arindam Chakrabarti Copyright 2006

    Are there universal properties grounding our sense of resemblance or qualitative identity among a number of distinct things or events which appear to form a class, a type or a kind of some other sort? Do universals such as humanness, triangularity, or being an oak exist? Is being a laptop computer a universal which has only recently come into existence? Do predicate expressions, adjectives or abstract nouns refer to objective properties or cognitive contents called concepts? The problem of universals has been at the centre of ancient, medieval, Western and Indian metaphysics. After the logico-linguistic turn in philosophy, this problem re-surfaced in the discourse on the meaning of predicate expressions on the one hand and in the theories of concepts on the other. By introducing newly commissioned essays written by the leading metaphysicians, epistemologists, philosophers of language and philosophers of mathematics, this anthology evinces current analytic philosophy's healthy re-engagement with this perennial problem. Issues raised include: Do properties and other abstract entities exist independently of human language and thought? Can we be in direct perceptual touch with properties or particular qualities? Is a higher order quantification over predicated properties intelligible or indispensable? Insights from current Western thought are compared with recent work in analytic Indian philosophy on such issues. No serious researcher or teacher of contemporary and comparative analytical metaphysics can afford to ignore the essays of this collection.

    Contents: Introduction, Arindam Chakrabarti; Strawson on universals, Pranab Kumar Sen; Reply to Pranab Sen, P.F. Strawson; Universals and other generalities, Jonardon Ganeri; Predicates and properties: an examination of P.K. Sens' theory of universals, Fraser McBride; Buddhist nominalism and desert ornithology, Mark Siderits; Universals transformed: the first thousand years after Plato, Richard Sorabji; Conceptualism, Chris Swoyer; The concept horse, Harold W. Noonan; Universals and particulars: Ramsey's scepticism, Bob Hale; How not to trivialize the identity of indiscernibles, Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra; Universals and the defence of ante rem realism, George Bealer; Particulars have their properties of necessity, David Armstrong; Properties in abundance, Wolfgang Künne; A category of particulars, P.F. Strawson; On perceiving properties, Arindam Chakrabarti; Index.


    P.F. Strawson was Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Magdalen College and University College, Oxford, UK. Arindam Chakrabarti is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA.

    ’All the contributors are extremely able philosophers who have valuable things to say about various aspects of the problem of universals. Indeed, every aspect of the problem of which I am aware is discussed by at least one of the authors... This excellent collection of essays demonstrates by example that analytical metaphysics is very far from dead.’ TLS ’The book's introduction should be read carefully at the beginning and then reread at the end ; and all the contributors should be grateful to Chakrabarti for an introduction that manages to elevate each article to a pedestal of its own. We boldly claim that this is one of the best introductions ever written in an anthology of this kind. ... The articles of this collection present a comprehensive account of different approaches through history of the problem of universals. ... The editors have dexterously sequenced the articles in such a way that each paper provides the requisite background for the next.’ Philosophy in Review