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Bradley’s Regress, Russell’s States of Affairs, and Some General Remarks on the Problem

Author(s): Holger Leerhoff

Journal: Studia Philosophica Estonica
ISSN 1406-0000

Volume: 1.2;
Start page: 249;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: ontology | F. H. Bradley | Russell

In this paper, I will give a presentation of Bradley's two main arguments against the reality of relations. Whereas one of his arguments is highly specific to Bradley's metaphysical background, his famous regress argument seems to pose a serious threat not only for ontological pluralism, but especially for states of affairs as an ontological category. Amongst the proponents of states-of-affairs ontologies two groups can be distinguished: One group holds states of affairs to be complexes consisting of their particular and universal constituents alone, the other holds that there has to be a "unifying relation" of some sort to establish the unity of a given state of affairs. Bradley's regress is often conceived to be a compelling argument against the first and for the latter. I will argue that the latter approaches have no real advantage over the simpler theories—neither in the light of Bradley's regress nor in other respects.
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