A new defense of realism



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In this dissertation, I defend the claim that realism – that is, a theory committed to an ontology of universals and particulars – is a more viable theory than any of the others adopted in order solve to the problem of universals. I begin in chapter 1 by setting out a method for comparing the various theories offered as solutions to this problem that is based primarily on a preference for those theories that exhibit greater ontological parsimony. In developing this method I endorse rather than reject (as is standard for realists to do) Quine’s criterion of ontological commitment. In chapter 2, I utilize the aforementioned method of theory comparison to argue for the greater comparative viability of realism over each of its primary competitors. In chapter 3, I set out and offer a solution to the “problem of instantiation”, which has traditionally been taken to be the most difficult problem for realists to solve. Finally, in chapter 4, I discuss two remaining issues that face the sort of “Quinean” realism that I prefer: (1) the ability of this version of realism to accommodate the traditional realist distinction between universals and particulars, and (2) the ability of this version of realism to account for “relational facts” while maintaining its greater comparative viability over its competitors.