God and the Problem of Universals

Every now and then I hear of a new book that leaves me salivating.  The Oxford Studies in Metaphysics (vol. 2) was recently published and it looks good.  

Here’s the look at the contents:


      1. Max Black’s Objection to Mind-Body Identity , Ned Block

      2. Mary and Max and Jack and Ned , John Perry

      3. A Posterioiri Identities and the Requirements of Rationality , Stephen L. White


      4. Goodbye Growing Block , Trenton Merricks

      5. Rashi’s View of the Open Future: Determinateness and Bivalience , Eli Hirsch

      6. General Facts, Physical Necessity, and the Metaphysics of Time , Peter Forrest


      7. Inexpressible Properties and Propositions , Thomas Hofweber

      8. Aristotle’s Constituent Ontology , Michael J. Loux

      9. The Relation Between General and Particular: Entailment vs. Supervenience , Phillip Bricker

     10. Epistemicism and Semantic Plasticity , John Hawthorne


     11. God and the Problem of Universals , Brian Leftow

     12. A Theistic Argument Against Platonism (And in Support of Truthmakers and Divine Simplicity) , Michael Bergmann    and Jeffrey E. Brower

     13. Beautiful Evils , Hud Hudson

Since I hold Brian Leftow in high esteem, I should also call your attention to Trent Dougherty’s critique of his essay over at Prosblogion–“God and the Problem of Universals.”  Leftow is one of those few philosophers today working on the metaphysics of God and abstract objects (a topic I worked on for my thesis at Dallas Seminary).  This area is just so pregnant with ideas and implications for metaphysics (and epistemology too).  It’sall cutting edge stuff so it’s really got me excited.  Doughtery’s brief but substantive critique points out several problems and promises of Leftow’s piece.  It’ll have to do till I get my hands on the book.


6 Responses to God and the Problem of Universals

  1. Susan says:

    Universals gave me fits in my metaphysics class. What would you recommend for a weakling like me as far as reading material? I simply was unable to grasp the significance of universals. It all just seemed sorely in need of Occam’s razor, to me. We read Moreland’s Universals and I kept siding with people I guess I wasn’t supposed to side with, ….but I suspected it may have been out of a lack of abiity to truly grasp the concepts involved and the implications of each view. I need to read the book again now that I have a bit more philosophy under my belt. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Clint says:

    J. P. Moreland has a really great book called “Universals.” I am not sure how philosophically savvy you are, but it is somewhat technical.

  3. Susan says:

    Thanks Clint, yes; that’s the one we read in Metaphysics class (as well as other books). Perhaps a book that takes another view would be helpful to me, so I could see all sides?

  4. Xavier says:

    Susan, first I do not consider you a weaking (intellecutal or otherwise). That said, philosophy is such a broad field that all but the gifted can only choose one or two areas to focus on. Unless one has no obligations (financial, vocational, family, etc) then it is just impossible to hope to get a grip on so many crucial issues.

    Funny that you mentioned Occam since (using his razor) he comes down on one (far) end of the problem of universals: He embraces nominalism–roughly, the view that univerals, natures, properties etc. do not exist at all.

    Anyway, all that said, I do not reccomend Moreland’s Universals for an introduction to the subject. His purpose is too narrow (to argue against nominalism and extreme nominalism) and he doesn’t incorporate enough history in the discussion. It seems to me the best way to grasp the concept of unversals and their significance is to read how they developed in the history and the problems they were intended to solve. Copelston’s History of Philosophy (bk. 1, vol. 1) is a good place to start if you haven’t read it already, particular chapter 20 “The Doctrine of the Forms,” And chapter 29, “The Metaphysics of Aristotle” (there is a significant difference between Plato and Aristolte on how we should concieve of universals).

    As if you don’t have enough to read already.

  5. Clint says:


    Of course, if I had read the rest of your post I would have seen that you had already read that. I have Ayn Rand’s Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Though the name probably wouldn’t communicate it, it has a chapter dealing with the problem of universals (from an objectivist perspective of course). I can let you borrow it if you are interested.

    I haven’t read this but check out Opus Oxoniense, book 2, distinction 3 by John Duns Scotus. He addresses universals, though it may be referred to in their as “individuation.”

    I hope this was helpful!

  6. Susan says:

    Thanks to you both!! you’re great!

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