Metaphysics Essay

1418 words - 6 pages

In metaphysics, there have been countless arguments to prove the existence, or absence, of certain kinds of things, such as universals. There have been several attempts find a solution to the problem of universals, an unresolved issue which revolves around the question of whether or not universals actually exist, and if so, which particular form they take. Though there are many possible solutions to this question, in modern metaphysics one of the most popular stances on the issue is Realism, which can be further boiled down into two popular schools of thought, Aristotelian realism and Platonic realism. Although both forms of realism agree that universals are actual entities, they are ...view middle of the document...

A property that must exist, for how else would it be possible to accurately say that the sky is blue, or, for that matter, that anything is anything at all? According to realists, this reasoning in itself is sufficient to commit us to the existence of universals.
Although realism is a popular answer to the problem of universals, there exists another widely-held stance known as resemblance nominalism. This particular school of thought asserts that there are no such thing as universals, simply individuals and the resemblances they share amongst each other. In a sense, nominalism is the antithesis of realism, for a number of reasons. For instance, nominalists have never been satisfied by realists' ability to define the exact boundaries of universals. Realists have suggested that within any one universal there exist infinitely varying degrees of that universal, such as the color blue encompassing the color cerulean, which explains the large amount of variability among particulars that seem to instantiate the same universals. And though this sort of reasoning is sufficient for realists, the concept of universals within universals is still largely irrelevant to nominalists. This is due to the fact that nominalists firmly believe that human beings are incapable of defining exactly what a universal's ideal form is without referencing it against itself, which in itself is a cyclical paradox. And without this ideal form, there is no way to know where one instantiation of a universal stands in relation to the true universal. When does the the color blue stop being blue and become purple? And who has the right to define such borders? In addition, many nominalists argue that universals simply cannot exist due to the fact that they are meant to represent singular entities yet defy a very basic law of physics by being capable of existing in multiple places simultaneously. Platonic realists have suggested that this can be explained by the fact that universals may exist outside of the physical universe, freeing them from the constraints of the laws of physics. However, nominalists have asserted that this type of argument, and realism in general, violates the Principle of Simplicity, a key component of theory building that advocates the use of theories that postulate the least amount of entities. And if the Principle is assumed to be true, then it must follow that nominalism is the more logical solution to the problem of universals, for it attempts to explain the universe in terms of particulars exclusively. By eliminating universals altogether, nominalists have essentially made the claim that what people assume to be universals are nothing more labels given to groups of individuals that resemble one another enough to be categorized under the same universal. It is with this claim that nominalism attempts to disprove realism and solve the problem of universals, and in fact would be quite successful at doing so if not for the fact that, according to realism,...

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