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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 57, Issue 4, December 2017

Paul M. Gould, Richard Brian Davis
Pages 415-428

Where the Bootstrapping Really Lies
A Neo-Aristotelian Reply to Panchuk

Modified Theistic Activism is the view that abstract objects not essentially possessed by God fall under God’s creative activity in one way or another. Michelle Panchuk has argued that this position succumbs to the bootstrapping problem such that God is and is not logically prior to his properties—an incoherent and necessarily false state of affairs. In this essay we respond to Panchuk by arguing that our neo-Aristotelian account of substance and property possession successfully avoids the bootstrapping problem. Moreover, her own neo-Augustinian account of universals contains many conceptual deficiencies and ultimately succumbs to an epistemic iteration of the bootstrapping problem. Finally, we argue that the reasons provided for thinking only created beings need universals to ground character is unmotivated. In clarifying and defending our position, our hope is to bury once and for all the familiar claim that traditional theists cannot be realists with respect to abstract objects because of divine bootstrapping.

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