Philosophical Studies

, Volume 141, Issue 2, pp 175–190 | Cite as

The bundle theory and the substratum theory: deadly enemies or twin brothers?

  • Jiri Benovsky


In this paper, I explore several versions of the bundle theory and the substratum theory and compare them, with the surprising result that it seems to be true that they are equivalent (in a sense of ‘equivalent’ to be specified). In order to see whether this is correct or not, I go through several steps: first, I examine different versions of the bundle theory with tropes and compare them to the substratum theory with tropes by going through various standard objections and arguing for a tu quoque in all cases. Emphasizing the theoretical role of the substratum and of the relation of compresence, I defend the claim that these views are equivalent for all theoretical purposes. I then examine two different versions of the bundle theory with universals, and show that one of them is, here again, equivalent to the substratum theory with universals, by examining how both views face the famous objection from Identity of Indiscernibles in a completely parallel way. It is only the second, quite extreme and puzzling, version of the bundle theory with universals that is not equivalent to any other view; and the diagnosis of why this is so will show just how unpalatable the view is. Similarly, only a not-so-palatable version of the substratum theory is genuinely different from the other views; and here again it’s precisely what makes it different that makes it less appealing.


Bundles Substrata Substratum Bundle theory Substratum theory Metaphysical equivalence Identity of indiscernibles 



For very helpful suggestions and comments on earlier versions of this paper, I would like to thank Richard Glauser, Ghislain Guigon, Mark Heller, Dan López de Sa, Jonathan Lowe, Anne Meylan, Kevin Mulligan, Luc Schneider, Gianfranco Soldati, an anonymous referee of Philosophical Studies, as well as all members of the audience of the Bergman Conference in Aix-en-Provence in December 2006, the participants to the Neuchâtel Research Colloquium in December 2006, and the participants to the Ovronnaz Metaphysics Workshop in July 2007.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland

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