Sparseness, Immanence, and Naturalness
Sider (Ted)
Source: Noûs 29 (1995): 360–377
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

    In the past fifteen years or so there has been a lot of attention paid to theories of “sparse” universals1, particularly because of the work of D. M. Armstrong. These theories are of particular interest to those of us concerned with the distinction between natural and non-natural properties, since, as David Lewis has observed, it seems possible to analyze naturalness in terms of sparse universals2. Moreover, Armstrong claims that we should conceive of universals3 as being “immanent” as opposed to “transcendent”, and if universals4 are immanent then, as we will see, there is pressure to admit they are sparse as well. But I will argue that neither of these alleged reasons to accept a sparse conception of universals5 succeeds: the outlook for a fully general analysis of naturalness in terms of universals6 is not good, and the apparent advantages of immanence over transcendence are illusory.


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