Ontology and Epistemology from Empiricism to Conventionalism

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 215)


The main theme in the early philosophy of W.V.O. Quine and N. Goodman is the rejection of abstract entities, which engender an infinity of abstract elements. They call it nominalism but in fact it is much older than nominalism. Did not Aristotle reject the existence of ideas, because of the paradox of the third man, which shows that when a thing corresponds to an idea, there must be an idea that corresponds to this correspondence and an idea that corresponds to the thing, and the first and the second idea and so on? Nobody ever called this dismissal of ideas nominalism; the paradox rests on the false assumption that an idea must have itself the property it expresses and can be resolved, just as it can be shown that abstract elements such as classes must not necessarily engender an infinity, or at least that this can be avoided by observing certain rules. The rejection of the existence of abstract entities is a necessary but insufficient condition for nominalism.


Physical Object Ontological Commitment Abstract Entity Logical Empiricism Abstract Element 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Belgium

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