DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N040-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved September 22, 2021, from

6. The state of the art

Strawson (1959) draws a distinction between ‘revisionary’ and ‘descriptive’ metaphysics. In revisionary metaphysics, a theory is advanced to replace our ordinary language and thinking. In descriptive metaphysics, a description is given of the deepest presuppositions of our existing theories. Using these criteria, the broadly Aristotelian theory does seem to qualify as a relatively descriptive theory, by contrast with Plato’s more revisionary claims that particulars are unreal, unknowable and of no value. The Aristotelian theory is also more descriptive than theories which deny that particulars have essential properties, theories which take particulars to be bundles of tropes and theories which treat all particulars as merely the aggregates of the spatial and temporal parts out of which they are constituted. The more revisionary theories may be right; but the more conservative theories still have a lot of life left in them. The time is not ripe for a consensus to emerge on the nature of particulars.

Citing this article:
Bigelow, John C.. The state of the art. Particulars, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N040-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2021 Routledge.

Related Articles