, Volume 175, Issue 3, pp 311–326 | Cite as

Trope theory and the Bradley regress

  • Anna-Sofia MaurinEmail author


Trope theory is the view that the world is a world of abstract particular qualities. But if all there is are tropes, how do we account for the truth of propositions ostensibly made true by some concrete particular? A common answer is that concrete particulars are nothing but tropes in compresence. This answer seems vulnerable to an argument (first presented by F. H. Bradley) according to which any attempt to account for the nature of relations will end up either in contradiction, nonsense, or will lead to a vicious infinite regress. I investigate Bradley’s argument and claim that it fails to prove what it sets out to. It fails, I argue, because it does not take all the different ways in which relation and relata may depend on one another into account. If relations are entities that are distinct from yet essentially dependent upon their relata, the Bradleyan problem is solved. We are then free to say that tropes in compresence are what make true propositions ostensibly made true by concrete particulars.


Trope theory Bradley regress Truth maker 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Armstrong D.M. (1978) Universals and scientific realism I–II. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  2. Armstrong D.M. (1980) Against Ostrich nominalism: A reply to Michael Devitt. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 61: 440–449Google Scholar
  3. Armstrong D.M. (1989) Universals: An opinionated introduction. Westview Press, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  4. Armstrong D.M. (2004a) Truth and truthmakers. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Armstrong, D. M. (2004b) How do particulars stand to universals. In D. W. Zimmerman (Ed.), Oxford studies in metaphysics, Vol. 1 (pp. 139–154). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bacon, J. (1995). Universals and property instances. The alphabet of being, Aristotelian Society Series, Vol. 15, Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Baxter D.L.M. (1996) Bradley on substantive and adjective: The complex-unity problem. In: Mander W.J. (eds) Perspectives on the logic and metaphysics of F. H. Bradley. Thoemmes Press, Bristol, pp 1–24Google Scholar
  8. Baxter D.L.M. (2001) Instantiation as partial identity. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79(4): 449–464Google Scholar
  9. Bradley, F. H. (1908 [1893]). Appearance and reality (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cameron R. (2006) Tropes, necessary connections, and non-transferability. Dialectica 60(2): 99–113. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-8361.2006.01050.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Campbell K. (1990) Abstract particulars. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  12. Denkel A. (1997) On the compresence of tropes. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57(3): 599–606. doi: 10.2307/2953751 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Grossmann R. (1992) The existence of the world. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Heil J. (2003) From an ontological point of view. Clarendon Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hochberg H. (2004) Relations, properties and particulars. In: Hochberg H., Mulligan K. (eds) Relations and predicates. Ontos Verlag, Heusenstamm, pp 17–53Google Scholar
  16. Labossiere M.C. (1993) Swapped tropes. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 74: 258–264Google Scholar
  17. Maurin A.-S. (2002) If tropes. Kluwer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  18. Maurin A.-S. (2005) Same but different. Metaphysica 6(1): 129–146Google Scholar
  19. Maurin, A.-S. (2007). Infinite regress: Virtue or vice? In T. Rønnow-Rasmussen, B. Petersson, J. Josefsson, & D. Egonsson (Eds.), Hommage à Wlodek, URL:
  20. Maurin A.-S. (2009) A world of tropes. In: Vanderbeeken R. (eds) Worldviews, Science, and Us: Studies of Analytical Metaphysics. World Scientific Publishers, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  21. McDaniel K. (2001) Tropes and ordinary physical objects. Philosophical Studies 104: 269–290. doi: 10.1023/A:1010310503120 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Molnar, G. (2003) Powers: A study in metaphysics edited by S. Mumford. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  23. Mormann T. (1995) Trope sheaves: A topological ontology of tropes. Logic and Logical Philosophy 3: 129–150Google Scholar
  24. Mulligan K., Simons P., Smith B. (1984) Truth-makers. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 44(3): 287–321. doi: 10.2307/2107686 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Oddie G. (1982) Armstrong on the Eleatic principle and abstract entities. Philosophical Studies 41: 285–295. doi: 10.1007/BF00354868 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Plato. Sophist (1997). In J. M. Cooper (Ed.), Plato: Complete works (N. P. White, Trans.). Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
  27. Priest G. (1987) In contradiction. Kluwer Academic Publishers, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  28. Priest, G. (2007). Identity and difference: The structure of unity. Paper presented at the workshop Structure and Identity, Brussels, DecemberGoogle Scholar
  29. Russell, B. (1912). On the relations of universals and particulars. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 12, 1–24. (Reprinted in (1956), Logic and knowledge (pp. 105–124). London: Allen and Unwin.)Google Scholar
  30. Simons P. (1992) Logical atomism and its ontological refinements: a defence. In: Mulligan K. (eds) Language, truth and ontology. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 157–179Google Scholar
  31. Simons P. (1994) Particulars in particular clothing: Three trope theories of substance. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54(3): 553–575. doi: 10.2307/2108581 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Simons P. (2000) Identity through time and trope bundles. Topoi 19(2): 147–155. doi: 10.1023/A:1006485216998 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Simons P. (2005) Negatives, numbers, and necessity: Some worries about Armstrong’s version of truthmaking. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83(2): 253–261. doi: 10.1080/00048400500111162 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Smith B. (1999) Truthmaker realism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77(3): 274–291. doi: 10.1080/00048409912349041 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Trettin K. (2004a) New literature on tropes. Metaphysica 1: 151–158Google Scholar
  36. Trettin K. (2004b) Tropes and relations. In: Hochberg H., Mulligan K. (eds) Relations and predicates. Heusenstamm, Ontos Verlag, pp 203–217Google Scholar
  37. Vallicella W.F. (2000) Three conceptions of states of affairs. Nous (Detroit, Mich.) 34(2): 237–259. doi: 10.1111/0029-4624.00209 Google Scholar
  38. Vallicella W.F. (2002) Relations, monism, and the vindication of Bradley’s regress. Dialectica 56(1): 3–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lund UniversityLundSweden

Personalised recommendations