Suggestions from Physics for Deep Metaphysics

Tim Maudlin

in The Metaphysics Within Physics

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780199218219
Published online May 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191711596 | DOI:
 Suggestions from Physics for Deep Metaphysics

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Universals have been regarded with a jaundiced eye throughout philosophical history. The nominalist dictum — items described by the same term have nothing in common but the name — suggests that the ontological doctrine of universals is founded on a naive understanding of the significance of linguistic form. But it is one thing to cast doubt on the existence of universals, and something else to describe an adequate alternative to the doctrine. The outline of such an alternative exists, having been discovered not by philosophers but by physicists, under the rubric gauge theory. The primary objective of this chapter is to sketch enough of that theory to make clear how it constitutes an alternative to the theory of universals, and to the theory of tropes, and to all of the various kindred metaphysical hypotheses that are considered in philosophical literature.

Keywords: gauge theory; Quine; metaphysics; universals

Chapter.  10344 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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