Suárez's Argument against Real Universals

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In his Metaphysical Disputation 5, Francisco Suárez offers a concise argument to the effect that all that does or can possibly exist is singular and individual, and that a commitment to real universals would entail what he calls a ‘manifest contradiction’. According to a recent interpretation of this Master Argument against realism, it reveals that Suárez was committed to a hylomorphic version of the principle of the identity of indiscernibles, and ruled out the possibility of perfectly similar yet numerically distinct entities. In this paper, however, I argue that (1) at least for fundamental items in his ontology such as immaterial forms and matter-form compounds, Suárez was not committed to the identity of indiscernibles, and (2) a reading of the Master Argument that does justice to this is available. On the basis of this reading I provide a reappraisal of the argument, and conclude that (3) it rests on a premise that the realist would have good reasons to challenge. Hence, while the argument seems consistent with the possibility of indiscernible yet numerically distinct immaterial forms and matter-form compounds Suárez wishes to allow for, it is doubtful whether it can accomplish what it sets out to do, and undermine the case for realism.
Originele taal-2English
TijdschriftMind
Vroegere onlinedatum6-okt.-2023
DOI's
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 6-okt.-2023

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