Abstract Reference and Universals

  • Michael J. Loux
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series in Philosophy book series (PSSP, volume 14)


The upshot of the previous three chapters is that the realist cannot establish the existence of universals merely by an appeal to the phenomena of predication and resemblance. Of the traditional approaches to universals, then, we are left with that based on the phenomenon of abstract reference. If the realist is to convince us that we should embrace the ontological framework he recommends, he will have to base his case on the claim that the truth of sentences which appear to involve devices for referring to universals actually presupposes the existence of those universals. Our discussion so far suggests that the most plausible sentences to examine here are sentences like ‘Triangularity is a shape’ and ‘Red is a color’ which incorporate what have been called abstract singular terms; but before we confront the issue of the referential role of abstract terms, we ought to consider an argument for the existence of universals which is found in the later writings of W. V. Quine.


Linguistic Expression Abstract Term Abstract Entity True Sentence Abstract Reference 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Loux
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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