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ACCIDENTS IN OCKHAM'S ONTOLOGICAL PROJECT We know, because Ockham repeatedly says so, that for him, individual substances and a special kind of qualitative (but still individual) inherent are the only res or "things" there are. The controversial question is how reductionist the resultant scheme is or is meant to be. The answer is relevant to a number of important doctrines in Ockham's writings: perhaps even parts of the theory of supposition, but surely his account of truth conditions ("verification for things"), universals (and natural kinds), connotative terms (including relations), the categories, and mental language. As it happens, there are both critics and defenders of Ockham who have opted for a strong reductionist interpretation, the former maintaining that he (wittingly or not) must deny that there are any real relations, or that things are essentially the same as or different from one another. While some reductionist defenders of Ockham might argue that these are after all not such bad things to deny— which moves the debate to substantive issues—anti-reductionist commentators tend to argue that the reductionists, critics and defenders alike, have misunderstood what Ockham was about. 'See especially his discussion of the categories: Summa logicae, Part I, chs. 40-62 (Opera Phtlosophica [=OPh] I), edited by Philotheus Boehner, Gedeon Gal, and Stephen Brown (St. Bonaventure, N.Y.: The Franciscan Institute, 1974) and Quodhbeta septem V-VII (Opera Theologica [=OTh] IX), edited by Joseph C. Wey (St. Bonaventure, N.Y.: The Franciscan Institute, 1980). 2Perhaps no one falls neatly into these categories. Among the older commentaries , P. Doncoeur ["Le nominalisme de Guillaume d'Ockham: la théorie de la relation," Revue Néoscholastique de philosophie, 22 (1921): 5-25] is probably "the" critic. Julius Weinberg [Abstraction, Relation and Induction (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965)], who is otherwise sympathetic, attacks Ockham's account of relations in a way relevant to my topic. Philotheus Boehner [Collected Anieles on Ockham, ed. by E.M. Buytaert (St. Bonaventure: The Franciscan Institute, 1958)], Ernest Moody [The Logic of William of Ockham (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1935) and "William Ockham" in Encyclopedia of Philosophy (New York: Macmillan, 1967), vol. 8, 306-17] and H. Shapiro [Motion, Time and Place according to William of Ockham (St. Bonaventure: The Franciscan Institute, 1957)] are non-reductionists. Gottfried Martin is a special case to whom I will refer later (see note 48, below). In more recent times, Claude Panaccio ["Connotative Terms in Ockham," Cahiers d'éptstémologie, ?. 9016, publication du Groupe de Recherche en Epistémologie 79 Franciscan Studies (54) 1994-1997 80JOHN BOLER It is not my intention here to defend a strong reductionist interpretation. What I want to deal with, however, is the suggestion that a non-reductionist approach can simply dissolve many of the problems, substantive and interpretative, that have been raised about Ockham's ontological project. In all of this, I shall be satisfied with making some relatively simple points within a complex field. But I hope to show, by a selective examination of Ockham's account of universals and (especially) connotative terms, why certain problems are unavoidable. They may in the end be soluble, but they must be faced; and, so far as I can see, the solutions will not be easy on any interpretation. One way of putting my thesis is this: Ockham meant to be not simply a nominalist but an Aristotelian one; and the complexities introduced into Ockham's semantics by his effort to cope with an Aristotelian scheme of things are a challenge I think is too often ignored or underestimated. My emphasis also here is a limited one, concentrating principally on the predication of accidents. Comparée, Directeur Robert Nadeau, Département de philosophie, Université du Québec a Montréal, 1990] is a non-reductionist. And (now that he has changed his mind), so is Martin Tweedale ["Ockham's Supposed Elimination of Connotative Terms and His Ontological Parsimony," Dialogue 31 (1992): 431-44]. They identify as reductionists: Marilyn Adams [William Ockham (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1987), 2 vols.; but see also "Things versus 'Hows' or Ockham on Predication and Ontology," in James Bogen and J.G. McGuire, How Things Are (Dordrecht: D...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 79-97
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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