Why There Are No Tropes

Jerrold  Levinson 

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This paper effectively inverts the argument of an earlier paper of mine, “The Particularisation of Attributes”, to argue that there are no necessarily particularised and unshareable attributes of the sort that contemporary metaphysics calls tropes. In that earlier paper I distinguished two kinds of attributes, namely, properties and qualities, and argued that if there were tropes they could only be particularised qualities, i.e. particularisations of, say, redness, rather than particularisations of, say, being red. While continuing to hold that there cannot be particularised properties—that the very notion is oxymoronic—I now hold, further, that the supposition of qualities (that is, abstract stuffs) in addition to properties (that is, conditions or ways of being) is both ontologically extravagant and conceptually outlandish. Hence there are no qualities, and thus no tropes either.

(Published Online November 13 2006)