The Problem of Trope Individuation: A Reply to Lowe

Erkenntnis 79 (1):65-79 (2014)
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This paper is the first trope-theoretical reply to E. J. Lowe’s serious dilemma against trope nominalism in print. The first horn of this dilemma is that if tropes are identity dependent on substances, a vicious circularity threatens trope theories because they must admit that substances are identity dependent on their constituent tropes. According to the second horn, if the trope theorist claims that tropes are identity independent, she faces two insurmountable difficulties. (1) It is hard to understand the ontological dependence of tropes on substances. (2) The identity-conditions of tropes cannot be determinate, which threatens the determination of the identity-conditions of substances. Our reply to the first horn of Lowe’s dilemma is to deny the identity dependence of tropes. Yet we can avoid the second horn because our theory can explain the ontological dependence of tropes on substances and the fully-determined identity-conditions of both tropes and substances.
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