SAAP Annual Meeting 2015

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Relational Realism: Francis E. Abbot's Theory of Universals

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Francis Ellingwood Abbot was a nineteenth century American philosopher and a friend of C. S. Peirce. He is to a great extent forgotten, but he was nevertheless highly original and sketched an innovative theory of universals, which he called 'relational realism' and which he claimed to be the 'American theory of universals'. According to relational realism, universals are objective relations of resemblance. Abbot believed that the success of the sciences, which he thought assume the objectivity of relations, and the fact that we apprehend some relations both testify in favor of the thesis of the objectivity of relations. Universals as relations, or what he also called universalia inter res, inhere in things and particular properties. Relational realism is significant in that it fills the gap between the classical realism of universals and resemblance nominalism. In this paper, I present and discuss the main theses of Abbot's theory of universals.

Author(s):

Frederic Tremblay    
SUNY at Buffalo
United States

 

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