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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 2, 1999

Metaphysics

Sharon Kaye
Pages 207-216

Russell, Strawson, and William of Ockham

Realism and conventionalism generally establish the parameters of debate over universals. Do abstract terms in language refer to abstract things in the world? The realist answers yes, leaving us with an inflated ontology; the conventionalist answers no, leaving us with subjective categories. I want to defend nominalism in its original medieval sense, as one possibility that aims to preserve objectivity while positing nothing more than concrete individuals in the world. First, I will present paradigmatic statements of realism and conventionalism as developed by Russell and Strawson. Then, I will present the nominalist alternative as developed by William of Ockham.

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