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Problems from Locke$
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J. L. Mackie

Print publication date: 1976

Print ISBN-13: 9780198750369

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198750366.001.0001

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Abstract Ideas and Universals

Abstract Ideas and Universals

Chapter:
(p.107) 4 Abstract Ideas and Universals
Source:
Problems from Locke
Author(s):

J. L. Mackie

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198750366.003.0005

In this chapter, Mackie presents a defence of Locke against Berkeley's attack on abstraction. It is argued that Locke's theory of ideas primarily concerns our ability to employ words and statements. Locke's theory concerning ideas of numbers is criticized. Three theories of universals are considered: realism, nominalism, and conceptualism; it is concluded, however, that the notion of there being distinct things with which we connect general words with particular things is mistaken. Mackie instead proposes a theory of general words being ‘annexed’ to features of things.

Keywords:   abstract ideas, abstraction, Berkeley, conceptualism, nominalism, realism, universals

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