Where are Universals?

  • 1 James Allen’s Girls’ School, 144 East Dulwich Grove, London SE22 8TE, UK
Howard Peacock


It is often claimed that realists about universals must be either “platonists”, holding that universals lack spatio-temporal location, or “aristotelians”, asserting that universals are located where their instances are. What’s more, both camps agree that locatedness or unlocatedness is part of the essential nature of universals; consequently, aristotelians say that universals cannot exist un located, and platonists allege that universals cannot be located. Here I argue that the dispute may be resolved by synthesizing the most attractive features of each position. I claim that universals are located at their instances when instantiated by particulars which themselves possess a spatio-temporal location; however, uninstantiated universals exist without location. This has the consequence that it will often be a contingent matter whether a given universal has a location, if the universal is only contingently instantiated. Nevertheless, I claim, objections to this position may be overcome.

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