The Aristotelian Alternative to Humean Bundles and Lockean Bare Particulars: Lowe and Loux on Material Substance


Must we choose between reducing material substances to collections of properties, a’ la Berkeley and Hume or positing bare particulars, in the manner of Locke? Having repudiated the notion that a substance could simply be a collection of properties existing on their own, is there a viable alternative to the Lockean notion of a substratum, a being essentially devoid of character? E.J. Lowe and Michael Loux would answer here in the affirmative. Both recommend hylomorphism as an upgrade on the metaphysics of the British empiricists: treating a material substance as its essential 'form,' this embodied 'substance' universal being, in turn, the substratum in which its 'accidents' inhere. Here, I evaluate this Aristotelian metaphysics, identifying the advantages it enjoys over the empiricist's alternatives pertaining to dependence, unity, identity, change, and the distinction between essential and accidental properties. I also develop solutions to the two problems that Loux sees it posing.

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Robert Allen
Wayne County Community College District


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