Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Nominalism: nominalism is the view that universals (for example, triangles, blackness) are merely artificial constructions from individual cases. The linguistic expressions are merely names for these constructs. See also universalism, conceptualism, general terms, categories, generalization, generality.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

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I 250
Nominalism/Identification/Millikan: Thesis: Identifying involves a series of responses of the same kind to the world.
E.g. to identify "red" means to use the expression repeatedly, or to have the corresponding inner reaction again as an identification-as-the-same-again.
Identity/Sameness/Millikan: However, the nominalism believes, thesis: that many of the things that we identify in this way are not really self-identical! The sameness is constituted only by the act of identification.
I 251
Nominalism/Millikan: is particularly skeptical with regard to the identity of properties and species, which leads to the riddle, which again occurs for the same word or the same mental reaction.
Repetition/Millikan: E.g. Sneezing is a reaction with the same noise on an equal stimulus, but nothing is identified here. E.g. adrenaline rush: the same reaction as within other people on the same stimulus: danger. But also no identification.
Convention/Solution/Hobbes: Words are conventional, sneezing is not.
MillikanVsNominalism: it has to somehow explain, what the difference is between representation and mere occurrence. Its definition of identification as repeated use of a word is circular.
((s) in order to be able to repeat the word with reason, the object must be identified before). How can the application of a word help to recognize an object?
Learning/MillikanVsNominalism: how can repeating words help us learn about things? The repetition of an equal reaction on a later occasion is rather a sign that nothing has been learned.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.

Millk I
R. G. Millikan
Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories: New Foundations for Realism Cambridge 1987

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2017-10-22