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Volume 51 • Number 2

April 2014



Bare Particulars and Exemplification

by Timothy Pickavance

Bare particulars tend to get a bad rap. Sometimes the complaint is that they violate some empiricist epistemological principle.1 Sometimes it’s that they violate some combinatorial modal constraint.2 Sometimes, and most famously, it’s that the very idea of a property-less particular is incoherent.3 This last argument, the Incoherence Argument, displays a failing characteristic of many criticisms of bare particular theory. In particular, it fails to take into account a particular theoretical constraint of a constituent ontology with substrates, an ontology to which most bare particular theorists are committed. The constraint is this: there must be two types of exemplification. While this has been, or anyway should have been, clear since Alston (1954) defended bare particulars against Sellars’s (1952) version of the Incoherence Argument, and maybe even since Aristotle, philosophers miss or fail to appreciate the force of this constraint. Andrew Bailey’s (2012) “New Argument” fails on this score, as I will display in § 3. However, there are troubles to be found with respect to a bare particular account of exemplification. I gesture at these troubles in § 4, where I consider two bare particular accounts of accidental predication, initially canvassed in § 2, and suggest where they may falter.

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ISSN: 2152-1123