Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 8, pp 2029–2042 | Cite as

Prioritizing Platonism

  • Kelly TrogdonEmail author
  • Sam Cowling


Some see concrete foundationalism as providing the central task for sparse ontology, that of identifying which concreta ground other concreta but aren’t themselves grounded by concreta. There is, however, potentially much more to sparse ontology. The thesis of abstract foundationalism, if true, provides an additional task: identifying which abstracta ground other abstracta but aren’t themselves grounded by abstracta. We focus on two abstract foundationalist theses—abstract atomism and abstract monism—that correspond to the concrete foundationalist theses of priority atomism and priority monism. We show that a consequence of an attractive package of views is that abstract reality has a particular mereological structure, one capable of underwriting both theses. We argue that, of abstract foundationalist theses formulated in mereological terms, abstract atomism is the most plausible.


Monism Atomism Abstract entities Grounding Composition Foundationalism 



We presented versions of this paper at conferences at the Jean Nicod Institute (May 2016) and Rutgers University (November, 2016)—thanks to our audience members for helpful feedback. And we wish to thank in particular Mark Balaguer, Ricki Bliss, Einar Bohn, Ben Caplan, Michael Della Rocca, Louis deRosset, Dan Giberman, Jonathan Schaffer, Ted Sider, Gideon Rosen, and anonymous referees for their help.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.DenisonGranvilleUSA

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