Many Formulations of One Problem

  • Guido Imaguire
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 397)


In this chapter, I will present some different formulations of the Problem of Universals. Basically, these formulations ask about the existence of universals, the grounding of predication and the conditions of possibility of property distribution (‘One Over Many’ and its variants). Then, I will distinguish two related but different problems: the Type-Token Problem and the Sparse-Abundant Problem. The first is, as far as I can see, the core of the Problem of Universals, and its correct understanding should make clear why any decision about the existence of types is relevant not only for the debate about usual objects and properties like this apple and redness, but also for many other entities of other domains, insofar as these entities can be classified according to the type-token distinction. It may even be plausibly assumed that any entity of any domain can be classified as a token or a type entity. In this case, this solution to the Problem of Universals will have consequences for all other kinds of entities, such as meanings, sets, numbers, propositions, laws of nature, etc. The second problem, the Sparse-Abundant Problem, has often been conflated with the Type-Token Problem, and although it is also an important problem with many consequences for questions about the status of properties, it must be kept clearly distinguished. Strictly speaking, it should be understood much more as a particular strategy for defending the existence of universals, than properly as a problem. In any case, the relevant connections between both problems will be discussed in more detail.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guido Imaguire
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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