Master of Arts
Date of Defense
Throughout the history of philosophy, philosophers have explained the nature of those ordinary objects of common sense like dogs, cats, trees and people in many different ways. One of the problems that arise upon giving an account of the nature of these objects (philosophers call them concrete particulars) is the problem of individuation. The problem arise upon trying to explain what it is about the nature of a concrete particular, that makes it the very same thing as itself and not another? To put it another way, what is it about any individual concrete particular that makes it distinct from another. Imagine two distinct but virtually indiscernible concrete particulars sitting next to each other. We certainly want to say they are distinct but what aspects or features of these concrete particulars should we appeal to account for their distinctness, what individuates one from another? There have been many different aspects of a concrete particular, that have been put forward as candidates to account for individuation, but it turns out the problem is more difficult than it might initially seem. In this paper I will present what I think are two of the stronger contemporary accounts of the nature of concrete particulars among those who are realist about the properties associated with concrete particulars. The first approach is the substance theory, and the second the bundle theory. I will first explain how these theories account for the nature of concrete particulars. Next I will explain how the problem of individuation arises for each of these theories and how they can address these problems. I will explain why I think the substance theory can give a stronger account of the individuation of concrete particulars than the bundle theory. Also I will explain how the substance theory has reason in its favor the bundle theory does not . I conclude that, upon a consideration of an ontological methodology I lay out in the thesis and the two previous considerations, the substance theory is to be preferred over the bundle theory as an account the nature of concrete particulars.
Spitzer, Nicholas Paul, "TWO CONTEMPORARY APPROACHES TO THE INDIVIDUATION OF CONCRETE PARTICULARS: WHY A SUBSTANCE THEORY IS A STRONGER ACCOUNT" (2006). Theses. 264.