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Theories of Individuation A Reconsideration of Bare Particulars

The metaphysical problem of individuation requires an answer to two different but intimately related questions: 1) How are we to characterize individuality ontologically? To what ontological category or logical type does individuality belong? 2) What sort of distinction is there between the individuality and nature of an individual, e.g. a real distinction, a modal distinction, a distinction of reason, or some other distinction. My purpose in this article is to clarify a bare particular account of individuation and respond to objections that have been raised against bare particulars as individuators. ~ Abstract

The metaphysical problem of individuation is a classic example of a topic in analytic ontology. The notion of a problem of individuation has come to be used for a wide variety of different, and not altogether related matters in philosophy ranging from linguistic, conceptual, or epistemological issues of singling something out at or through time to more distinctively metaphysical concerns. Even metaphysical issues of individuation exhibit a plethora of concerns and interpretations. In light of this diversity, I can clarify my own use of the problem of individuation in this article by a ease of quality agreement. Suppose we have two red, round spots that share all their pure properties in common. Let us call them Aristotle and Plato. The problem of individuation is the problem of offering an ontological assay of the situation so as to specify what it is that makes the two spots two particular, individual entities instead of one.1 So understood, this problem of individuation requires an answer to two different but intimately related questions:

  1. How are we to characterize individuality ontologically? To what ontological category or logical type does individuality belong?
  2. What sort of distinction is there between the individuality and nature of an individual like Aristotle or Plato, e.g., a real distinction, a modal distinction, a distinction of reason, or some other distinction? One’s answer to question two will depend on the solution given to query one.

My purpose in this article is to clarify a bare particular account of individuation and respond to objections that have been raised against bare particulars as individuators.2 Let us accept at obvious the fact that external relations, e.g., spatio-temporal location on relational accounts of space-time, cannot solve the problem of individuation since by their very nature, external relations presuppose and, therefore, cannot constitute their relata.3 It is part of the characterization of external relations that they ire external" to their relate in that those relata are ontologically prior to the fact that they enter the external relation in question. Thus, external relations like relations to space-time location or origin, while relevant to certain issues in the epistemic mile, of singling entities out, are not what constitute the individuation of the entities so related.4 What solutions have been offered to the problem of individuation? The best way to get at those solutions is by means of the following four propositions:

  1. The only constituents of objects are their properties.
  2. Pure properties are numerically identical in their instances.
  3. (x)(y) [(z)(z is a constituent of x ←→ z is a constituent of y) → x = y].
  4. Necessarily, (x)(y) [(z) (z is a pure property of x ←→ z is a pure property of y) → x = y].

The difficulty expressed in these four propositions is that 1-3 entail 4 and 4 is the assertion that the identity of indiscernibles is a necessary truth when construed as a statement about pure properties. And most philosophers think that the identity of indiscernibles it false.

Proposition 3 has been called the principle of constituent identity and is fairly uncontroversial once we get clear on what a constituent is. So far as I know, virtually all philosophers accept it.5 3 employs a notion of "constituent" that ranges over parts, separable and inseparable (e.g., Husserlian moments), properties, internal relations within some whole, and, indeed, all entities whatsoever that enter into the being of some whole. It is hard to see how two entities could share literally all their constituents in common and still be two. Those who reject 3 reject the entire project of giving ontological assays of complex entities and they would owe us an account of what it is for something to be a constituent of something else. Moreover, even if someone holds that the world consists entirely of simples, this would not be a solution to the problem of individuation, it would amount to a rejection of the problem itself.

Different solutions to the problem of individuation will focus on propositions 1, 2, and 4. Proposition 1 is meant to exclude bare particulars and advocates of bare particulars like Gustav Bergmann and E. B. Allaire reject it. Proposition 2 expresses a realist construal of properties as multiply exemplifiable entities that are identical in all their instances. Nominalists reject 2 and try to solve the problem of individuation by embracing a view of qualities as abstract particulars. Currently, Keith Campbell is the best known advocate of this position.6 A further solution to the dilemma of individuation is to accept 1-3 and reject 4 on the grounds that impure properties or Leibnizian essences, e.g., the property of being identical to Aristotle, are among the constituents of Aristotle and Plato expressed in 3. Thus, Aristotle and Plato each has its own impure property as an individuator. Alvin Plantinga is the chief advocate of this alternative.7

Now it is widely believed today that among the solutions to the problem just listed, the bare particular view is riddled with too many problems to be a serious contender. Thus, the literature on individuation is dominated by alternative solutions, especially nominalism and the impure property position. Can the bare particular theory be defended against the criticisms that many take to refute it? I believe so, and in what follows, I will offer such a defense.

Before I offer this defense, t should issue a caveat. For two reasons I will not be considering individuative strategies that reject constituent ontologies, e.g., those strategies that deny that properties arc literally constituents in the things that exemplify them or that reject the idea that ordinary substances can be given a categorical analysis that delineates their constituents, say, an essence, an individualist, and a tie of predication. First, I have offered detailed criticisms of such strategies elsewhere and I shall not repeat my arguments here.8 Second, for at least some philosophers who reject constituent ontologies, e.g., Michael Loux, a main intellectual factor that motivates such a rejection is a set of problems thought to count decisively against bare particulars. I will content myself here with an analysis of those problems.

1. Bare Particulars as Individuators

What exactly is a bare particular? According to Gustav Bergmann’s classical definition, "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… A bare particular is a mere individuator… It does nothing else."9 Bergmann’s statement implies three things about a bare particular:

  1. It is not a property or a relation, but rather, a numerically primitive individual of logical type zero in Russell’s sense.
  2. It does not "have" a nature nor does it "have" any properties at all.
  3. Its only role it to be an individuator.

Proposition one is fairly straightforward and clear. Aristotle and Plato are two individual spots that differ from each other because each has its own bare particular that individuates it and that differs from the properties in Aristotle and Plato by more than a mere distinction of reason. Bare particulars constitute the "this" and the "that" of Plato and Aristotle and are called "bare" to distinguish them from other particulars, e.g. events, primary substances, quality-instances, or in this case, the spots themselves. As it stands, proposition two is ambiguous because, as we will see shortly when we look at objections to bare particulars, there is a sense in which they do have properties and a sense in which they do not.

Three qualifications need to be made about proposition three. For one thing, bare particulars have been called upon to serve a number of metaphysical roles in addition to individuation: the unifier and possessor of all a primary substance’s properties (e.g., Locke’s view of substance), the ground for the concreteness of an ordinary thing if properties are taken as abstract entities, that which accounts for the endurance of a substance through intrinsic qualitative change. In this article, I follow Bergmann and I am only discussing bare particulars as individuators. In fact I do not think that they serve any of the other roles just mentioned, except perhaps concretization. Thus, arguments against the adequacy of bare particulars in the other roles are irrelevant to the question of individuation.

Second, it is important to point out that bare particulars are ultimate individuators and are not directly responsible for all cases of the individuation of particulars. To take a simple example, if we assume that mereological wholes such as artifacts are individuated by their physical stuffs or parts, then we get a hierarchy of individuation. This very table is individuated by this very wood, this very wood is individuated by these specific atoms and molecules, and so on until we reach bare particulars as ultimate individuators.10 The fact that bare particulars can occasionally serve as indirect and not direct individuators is due to what is sometimes called the victory of particularity: Assuming a realist construal of properties as universals, when some particular a exemplifies a property F, the resulting state of affairs — a’s being F — is itself a particular.11 I shall not try to develop this point further and will continue to talk simply of bare particulars as individuators, but it is important to keep in mind that an overall theory of individuation can appeal to a number of other particulars, e.g., states of affairs, as long as it is kept in mind that bare particulars are necessary entities in any adequate overall theory of individuation.

Third, there it a difference between theories of individuation for particulars like events, quality-instances, or primary substances, and theories of individuation for, say, the various properties, e.g., redness, blueness, constituted by the same second order universal to form a quality order. Various theories of individuation have been offered for determinables under a determinate, including bare particulars. But it is possible to hold a bare particular theory of individuation for particulars and not for universals because, it could be argued, whatever individuates blue from red, given that they both have being colored at their determinable, must leave the resultant state of affairs, e.g., blueness is this color, as either an abstract state of affairs or a universal, and when bare particulars individuate, they turn their individuated states of affairs into concrete particulars. I do not wish to pursue this topic further. My concern is the relevance of bare particulars as individuators of particulars.

2.  Objections against Bare Particulars as Individuators of Particulars

The main criticisms against bare particulars as individualists have been summarized and advocated by Michael Loux12 and, more recently, by Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosenkrantz.13 As I see it, these criticisms are variants of four main objections. The first is clearly the weakest and it comes from empiricist constraints on analytic ontology: bare particulars are ontological posits that go beyond what is empirically sensible or testable. This objection was a forceful one in the days of Bergmann and his disciples because they lived in a time when forms of positivism were still alive and, in fact, they themselves subscribed to a version of empiricist epistemology. B. B. Allaire’s response to this objection involved making a familiar distinction between knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by recognition. He went on to argue:

"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 space, (shade of) 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 (non relational) respects must be accounted for … To claim that both discs are collections of  literally the same universals does not account for the thisness and thatness which are implicitly referred to in speaking of them as two collections. That is, the two collections 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."14

Allaire’s response is to claim that we do have empirical knowledge of bare particulars by acquaintance even if we do not have the ability to recognize those bare particulars at a latter time. Does Allaire’s response work? I am not sure that it does and the reason has to do with the victory or particularity. It is clear that in looking at Aristotle and Plato we are acquainted with two particulars and not just with universals. But it may be that the particularity with which we are acquainted is just the two particular states of affairs themselves, namely, Aristotle and Plato, and not with the bare particular in each that grounds their particularity. So from the fact that we are presented with numerically different spots along with their differentness, it does not follow that we are presented with the constituent that accounts for the thisness and thatness of each. An argument from acquaintance should not be as ambiguous as this when it comes to stating just what it is with which we are acquainted.

Does it matter that Allaire’s argument is not clearly successful? l don’t think that it does. Today, most philosophers would not place the type of empiricist constraints on analytic ontology that was present in Bergmann’s day. The real issue for bare particulars is whether or not the arguments for and against them are sufficient to justify their adoption as a solution to individuation, not whether they are sense perceptible. Probably more than anyone else today, D.M. Armstrong allows empiricism to shape his work in analytic ontology, but he adopts Lockean substrata as individuators (he calls them thin particulars) and, in spite of some confusion on his part lobe noted shortly, these are bare particulars.15

The second objection against bare particulars is the claim that the notion itself "is incoherent and self-contradictory".16 At least four reasons have been given for this claim:

  1. It is a necessary truth that any entity exemplifies properties yet bare particulars exemplify no properties. Why think that this is a necessary truth? I can think of to reasons. Either it follows from one’s overall theory of existence itself or else from a generalization of the second argument to be given momentarily. I will address the issue of existence in the fourth major objection against bare particulars below. Thus, my response to this first point will be made in connection with reason two.
  2. Bare particulars are supposed to have no properties, certainly no properties necessarily, yet there are many properties they have and have necessarily: being concrete, being particular, transcendental properties like being colored if green, being the constituent of at most one entity, having the property of lacking properties.
  3. One cannot grasp or apprehend or conceive something that doesn’t exemplify properties so bare particulars fail in this respect.
  4. It is a necessary truth that if a property P inheres in x, then x exemplifies P. Thus, given the fact that bare particulars must have properties that inhere in them, e.g., the properties listed above or the property of being such that properties can subsist or inhere in a bare particular, the notion of a particular being bare is incoherent.

These objections fail because they either express gross misunderstandings of bare particulars or else they beg a serious question. Before I argue this directly, it is worth noting that some of the properties listed above are suspect to say the least, In my view, what grounds the truthfulness of the proposition "x is colored if x is green" is not a property, but a state of affairs constituted by a determinable (being colored), a determinate (being green), and a genus/species relation. Nor, arguably, are there negative properties. The fact that a bare particular lacks some property F is not grounded in the fact that it possesses the negative property of not-F. As a primitive fact, it simply lacks F itself.

More importantly, advocates of bare particulars distinguish two different senses of being bare along with two different ways something can have a property (which is not the same thing as distinguishing two different having relations). In one sense, an entity is bare if and only if it has no properties in any sense. Now bare particulars are not bare in this sense. They do not exist unless they possess properties. Why this is so is a problem that will be addressed in objection four below. There is another sense of bare, however, that is true of bare particulars. To understand this, consider the way a classic Aristotelian substance has a property, say, some dog Fido’s being brown. On this view, Fido is a substance constituted by an essence which contains a diversity of capacities internal to, within the being of Fido as a substance. These capacities are potentialities to exemplify properties or to have parts that exemplify properties. The capacities are grounds for the properties like brownness that Fido comes to have. When a substance has a property, that property is "seated within" and, thus, an expression of the "inner nature" of the substance itself. Thus, Richard Connell is correct to distinguish the way substances and bare substrata have properties when he claims that properties are not simply tied to substances, but rather "rooted in … and caused by the substance."17

By contrast, bare particulars are simple and properties are linked or tied to them. This tie is asymmetrical in that some bare particular x has a property F and F is had by x. A bare particular is called "bare", not because it comes without properties, but in order to distinguish it from other particulars like substances and to distinguish the way it has a property (F is tied to x) from the way, say, a substance has a property (F is rooted within x). Since bare particulars are simples, there is no internal differentiation within them. When a property is exemplified by a bare particular, it is modified by being tied to that particular. Thus, bare particulars have a number of properties, e.g., being red, and they have some properties necessarily, e.g., particularity, in the sense that a bare particular can exist only if it has certain properties tied to it. Now, this fact about bare particulars neither makes them identical to their properties nor does it entail that properties are constituents within a bare particular. Just because a man never comes out of his house naked, it does not follow that he is his clothes or that they compose him as constituents.

This confusion about the bareness of bare particulars is wide spread. For example, D. M. Armstrong rejects bare particulars for the following reason: "A particular that existed outside states of affairs would not be clothed in any properties or relations. It may be called a bare particular. If the world is to be a world of states of affairs we must [reject] Bare Particulars."18 Armstrong makes a distinction between a thick particular (a’s being F) and a thin particular (a). He calls the latter a Lockean substratum and accepts it as an individuator. For Armstrong, the particularity of a normal (thick) particular is an irreducible, unanalyzable feature of normal particulars. For him, particulars qua particulars do not differ in nature, but in virtue of bare, numerical difference, bare particularity, and he explicitly identifies this individuator (the thin particular) with a Lockean substratum.19 Armstrong rejects bare particulars in the first sense but not the second, and given the fact that advocates of bare particulars embrace the second sense, his view is a bare particular position.20

So advocates of bare particular agree that they have or exemplify properties. This means that reasons 1, 2, and 4 above fail to show that bare particulars are "incoherent and self-contradictory". These objections trade on the confusion just mentioned. But perhaps my claim is premature because there is another argument against bare particulars contained in these objections: when a bare particular has a property, this is grounded in a capacity for that property contained within the inner nature of the bare particular. For example, when a bare particular has a property that is "inhering in" it, this fact must be grounded in the further fact that the bare particular has the property of being such that properties can inhere in them.

It should be clear that this objections is question begging. It is open to an advocate of bare particulars to claim that it is a primitive fact that properties are tied to them and this does not need to be grounded in some further capacity or property within them. In analytic ontology, one eventually comes to primitives and, on the bare particular view, qua simples, bare particulars and the role they play as individuators are primitives. Thus, there is no need to ground the inherence of properties in a bare particular by way of some further entity within it, when we recognize that "inhere in" is taken as "tied to".

This leaves reason 3: one cannot grasp, apprehend, or conceive of something that doesn’t exemplify properties. First, we should distinguish apprehending which amounts to being acquainted with something by means of a sense perception from conceiving which does not involve imaging or sensing, but merely conceptually grasping something. Now it may be the case that one cannot apprehend a bare particular that has no properties, but I can easily conceive of a bare particular in itself as a pure, primitive individuator without having to conceive of the properties tied to it, once we recognize the distinction between the bare particular considered in itself as a simple and the properties accidentally or necessarily tied to it if it exists. But more importantly, even if we grant that such conceivings are impossible, it only follows that we can conceive of bare particulars only by grasping them through their properties. It does not follow that they are identical to those properties or that bare particulars cannot be bare in the sense we are using.

So much, then, for objection two. Here is a third argument against bare particulars. According to Hoffman and Rosenkrantz,

"…if ordinary objects require substrata as individuators, why don’t substrata themselves require some entity in order to individuate them? Properties can’t individuate   them, for they have none. Whatever else might serve to individuate substrata (i.e., something other than further substrata, e.g. location) would serve to individuate ordinary objects without having to invoke substrata. Thus, consistency seems to imply either that substrata require further substrata  as individuators (an absurdity), or else that substrata are not required in order to individuate ordinary objects."21

Michael Loux adds to this objection the further point that since bare particulars have a number of properties essentially (being colored if green, being incapable of being in more than one ordinary object at a given time, being self-identical), then two bare particulars a and b could share all these properties in common and we would need to postulate further bare particulars to individuate a and b, and so on to infinity.22 This is a vicious infinite regress according to Loux and I suppose some sort of argument like this is behind Hoffman’s and Rosenkrantz’s claim that there is an absurdity in requiring further substrata to individuate substrata.

How strong are these points? I don’t think they succeed. Hoffman and Rosenkrantz are correct in their claim that properties (neither pure nor impure) cannot individuate, though the reason they give (that substrata do not have properties) is incorrect. In fact, the inadequacy of properties to individuate is one of the main theses of the present article. They are also correct to say that, if some other entity like location is needed to individuate substrata, then the latter are rendered superfluous. But why should we think that bare particulars need further entities to individuate them and so on to infinity? The argument explicit in Loux, and implicit in Hoffman and Rosenkrantz can be clarified by the following consideration. Consider our spots Aristotle and Plato. Now each is a state of affairs with the following constituents included in their assay: spothood, being round, being red, the tie of predication, and the bare particular a for Aristotle and b for Plato. According to the argument we are considering, we can also take bare particular a and b to be states of affairs with these constituents in them: particularity, being self-identical, etc., and bare particular a1 in a and b1 in b, and on to infinity.

The problem with this argument is that it treats bare particulars as wholes, namely, states of affairs with properties as constituents within them. But this is wrong. Bare particulars are simples with properties tied to them. The reason Aristotle and Plato need individuators is that they share all their pure properties in common, pure properties are universals, and neither impure properties nor spatial locations or external relations can do the job required of individuators. But the bare particulars a and b in Aristotle and Plato are simples and, as a matter of primitive fact, they simply come individuated even if properties are necessarily tied to them in the sense that they could not exist if they did not have those properties tied to them. Thus, the regress does not get going and this objection fails.

We are left with one final objection.
23 There is no evidence to suggest that bare particulars can exist without any properties at all, nor does it seem coherent to think that this is possible given some of the points mentioned is the last few pages. Yet on the current characterization of bare particulars as primitive individuative simples with properties tied to them in a primitive way ungrounded in capacities or properties within those bare particulars, it seems that it is inexplicable as to why bare particulars always come tied to certain properties (e.g., particularity). What is to keep them from simply splintering off on their own, as it were? And if this is, in fact a possibility, doesn’t this show that, after all, bare particulars involve an incoherence in this respect?

I don’t think there is an answer to this question if we just think of bare particulars as simples and leave it at that. For if that were all there were to the matter, then it would be hard to see why any simple couldn’t just exist on its own. For it could be argued that what is meant by saying that a simple could "just exist on its own" is that a simple does not depend for its existence on internal constituents because a simple has no constituents. A constituent/whole framework is inapplicable for simples and since bare particulars are simples, they are not dependent but, rather, independent entities.

In my view, there are two more promising lines of response to this problem open to the defender of bare particulars. The first one rests on the claim that there does not seem to be a possible world in which a bare particular exists but does not have certain things true of it. I have already expressed my distrust of certain candidates for transcendental properties truly predicable of all entities whatsoever, e.g., being colored if green, disjunctive properties like being a horse or not being a horse, or negative properties. But if there are, in fact, genuine transcendental properties, such as being one, goodness, and so on, then these would be true of bare particulars in all possible worlds. The issue here is not to identify a list of those transcendental properties because I suspect that philosophers will be more willing to agree that there are such properties than they will about the precise list of properties that qualify to be on the list. My point is that if there are such properties, then bare particulars cannot exist without them. Besides transcendental properties, it would also seem necessarily the case that bare particulars have the properties of particularity and simplicity as well.

A second line of response involves identifying a general theory of existence that requires entities to have properties in order to exist. If some sort of theory of this type is defensible, then it would entail that nothing could exist without properties, bare particulars included. I cannot go into a detailed defense of such a theory here. But it is worth pointing out that many philosophers have recognized that if something exists, then it has properties and that non-existent entities have no properties at all. Now, I think is is a mistake to go on to identify existence as a property simpliciter. Kant’s well known critique of the position is, I believe, successful. In my view, a better theory of existence is this: existence is the having of a property or the being had by a property.24 On this view, we can define what it is for some entity x to come to be as follows: there is at least one property P which is such that x has P and there is no property Q which is such that x had Q.25

So much for my gloss on what existence is. If this view or some relevantly similar cousin is correct, then it would entail that bare particulars cannot exist without properties. In order to avoid the appearance of being ad hoc or begging the question, it is important to say that the type of theory of existence I am suggesting should be formulated in light of broad, general ontological issues and then applied to the question of bare particulars.

In this article, I have tried to clarify and defend a bare particular theory of individuation. I have not tried to criticize alternative accounts, especially the nominalist and impure property solutions, though I think they have serious difficulties. However, even if I am wrong about this, a bare particular theory of individuation is not as problematic as is often thought, or so I have tried to argue. If am right about this, then I hope philosophers will give bare particulars the reconsideration they deserve.26


1 For an analysis of various issues in the broader topic of exemplification, see J P. Moreland, "Issues and Options In Exemplification". American Philosophical Quarterly 33 (April, 1996), pp. 133-47.

2 Though I am not arguing this point here, I think that most rival theories of individuation will reduce to one of the views I mention. For example, it is not clear to me that the guise theory of Hector-Neri Castaneda solves the problem of individuation. And if it does, its solution will be one of the positions I am about to examine. In support of this claim, it is instructive to compare the views I am investigating with the discussion of individuation in guise theory by Francesco Orillia, "Van Cleve, The Bundle Theory, and Guise Theory", Auslegung 12 (Summer 1986), pp. 174-84, especially pp. 175-77.

3 Some philosophers have taken an absolutist view of space and time and offered coordinate qualities as individuators. I reject his solution for at least two reasons. First, if successful, it implies that our spots cannot move and endure and that there is no possible world in which they could have been located at different locations. I find these implications troublesome because location simply seems to be something external to the being of the spots, although I know not all will agree with me. Second, coordinate qualities themselves share properties in common and the need to individuate them is not solved by the coordinate quality position. Those who do try to solve this problem do so in terms of one of the other theories of individuation I have listed.

4 While not all would agree with me on this, I think there is another problem with taking external relations to space-time location or origin to be constitutive of individuation, viz. that there is no possible world in which the very entity in question could be entered into different relations (e.g. had a different time of origin) from the ones it does, in fact, enter. If someone accepts this implication, then this is tantamount to treating the relation in question as an internal and not an eternal relation.

5 Cf. Herbert Hochberg. "Universals, Particulars, and Predication", The Review of Metaphysics 19 (September 1965), pp. 89-91.

6 Cf. Keith Campbell, "Abstract Particulars and the Philosophy of Mind", Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (June 1983), pp. 129-141. "The Metaphysics of Abstract Particulars in Midwest Studies in Philosophy Volume VI: The Foundations of Analytic Philosophy. Peter A. French, Theodore E. Uehling, and Howard K. Wettstein (eds) (Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1981), pp. 477-88; Metaphysics: An Introduction (Encino, CA: Dickenson Publishing Co., 1976), pp. 206-19; Abstract Particulars (Cambridge MA: Basil Blackwell, 1990).

7 Cf. Alvin Plantinga, The Nature of Necessity (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), chapters 4-6.

8 J.P. Moreland, "Keith Campbell and the Trope View of Predication," Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 67 (December 1989), pp. 379-93; "Nominalism and Abstract Reference", American Philosophical Quarterly 27 (October 1990), pp. 325-34; "A Critique of Campbell’s Refurbished Nominalism", The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 35 (Summer 1997), pp. 225-46; "How to Be a Nominalist in Realist Clothing," Grazer Philosophische Studien, 39 (Summer, 1991), pp. 75-101.

9 Gustav Bergmann, Realism (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967), pp. 24, 25.

10 I have argued elsewhere that bare particulars are individuators for those dependent parts known as quality-instance or Husserlian moments. See J.P. Moreland, "Was Husserl a Nominalist?", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 49 (June 1989), pp. 661-74.

11 It may be worth pointing out that this view does not reduce substances understood in the classic sense as members of natural kinds that sustain absolute sameness through accidental change to events or facts (construed as entities that are about things). Rather, the view under
consideration does not depict substances like living organisms as simples; rather, substances are taken to be identical to a universal essence, the tie
of predication, and an individuator (a bare particular). In this
minimal sense, substances are states of affairs, but they are not
states of affairs (e.g., events or facts) in the sense just mentioned.

12 Michael Loux, Substance and Attribute, pp. 140-52.

13 Joshua Hoffman, Gary S. Rosenkrantz, Substance and Other Categories (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 46-52.

14 E.B. Allaire, "Bare Particulars," Philosophical Studies, XVI (1963), reprinted in Universals and Particulars, ed. by Michael J. Loux (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1970), p. 288.

15 D.M. Armstrong, Universals: An Opinionated Introduction, pp. 60-64, 88, 93-96. 108-110.

16 Hoffman and Rosenkrantz, Substance and Other Categories, pp. 48-49.

17 Richard Connell, Substance and Modern Science (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), p. 90.

18 D.M. Armstrong, Universals: An Opinionated Introduction, p.94.

19 D.M. Armstrong, A World of States of Affairs, p. 124.  Cf. pp. 95-112: 123-127. Armstrong’s only problem with Locke’s view of substratum, is that it was an unknown postulate and Armstrong insists that the particularity of a thick particular is presented in acts of perception. Unfortunately, he is not as clear on this as one might wish because he seems to go back and forth between identifying what is so presented as 1) the fact that thick or propertied particulars are not exhausted by their properties and relations and 2) the thin particular itself. But as we have seen, the victory of particularity (which Armstrong accepts) does not clearly allow one to assert 2) just because one is acquainted in acts of perception with the thick particular qua particular.

20 For Armstrong’s rejection of bare particulars in sense one, see A World of States of Affairs, pp. 86, 153, 267-268.

21 Hoffman and Rosenkrantz, Substance and Other Categories, p. 51.

22 Loux, Substance and Attribute, pp. 149-52

23 Cf. D.M. Armstrong, A World of States of Affairs, pp. 267-269.

24 See J.P. Moreland, "Review of the Existence of the World: An Introduction to Ontology by Reinhardt Grossman", in Mind 102 (July, 1993), pp. 407-410.

25 Cf. Roderick Chisholm, "Coming into Being and Passing Away: Can the Metaphysician Help?" reprinted in On Metaphysics by Roderick Chisholm (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1989), pp. 49-61, especially p. 56.

26 I wish to thank the blind reviewer for a number of very helpful suggestions. They were always appreciated, and often (though not always) followed.


About JP Moreland

With degrees in philosophy, theology and chemisty, Dr. Moreland brings erudition, passion, and his distinctive ebullience to the end of loving God with all of one's mind. Moreland received his B.S. in Chemistry (with honors) from the University of Missouri, his M.A. in Philosophy (with highest honors) from the University of California, Riverside, his Th.M. in Theology (with honors) from Dallas Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Southern California. Dr. Moreland has taught theology and philosophy at several schools throughout the U.S. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Biola University's Talbot School of Theology.