The Transcendental Metaphysic of G. F. Stout: His Defence and Elaboration of Trope Theory

  • Fraser MacBrideEmail author


G. F. Stout is famous as an early twentieth century proselyte for abstract particulars, or tropes as they are now often called. He advanced his version of trope theory to avoid the excesses of nominalism on the one hand and realism on the other. But his arguments for tropes have been widely misconceived as metaphysical, e.g. by Armstrong. In this paper, I argue that Stout’s fundamental arguments for tropes were ideological and epistemological rather than metaphysical. He moulded his scheme to fit what is actually given to us in perception, arguing that our epistemic practices would break down in an environment where only universals were given to us.


Stout Moore Tropes Universals Perception 



Thanks to Jane Heal and Frédérique Janssen-Lauret for comments upon a final draft, to Maria van der Schaar for sending me a copy of her 1991, and to Kevin Mulligan for a memorable conversation about Stout in a Geneva café some years ago. I am grateful to the Arts and Humanities Research Council whose funding made it possible to complete this paper.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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