Refutation of Searle's Argument for the Existence of Universals

Swiss Philosophical Preprints (2009)
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Abstract
Searle proposes an argument in order to prove the existence of universals and thereby solve the problem of universals: From every meaningful general term P(x) follows a tautology Vx[P(x) v -P(x)], which entails the existence of the corresponding universal P. To be convincing, this argument for existence must be valid, it must presume true premises and it must be free of any informal fallacy. First, the validity of the argument for existence in its non-modal interpretation will be proven with the help of the formal deductive system F. Secondly, it will be shown that a self-contradictory tautology concept is employed, which renders the premises meaningless. Consequently, the inconsistency will be emended through redefinition and the argument's ensuing correctness will be demonstrated. Finally, it will be shown that the argument for existence presupposes the existence of universals in its premise and hence begs the question.
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