Philosophy Word of the Day – Problem of Universals

Universals are features (e.g., redness or tallness) shared by many individuals, each of which is said to instantiate or exemplify the universal. Although it began with dispute over the status of Platonic Forms, the problem of universals became a central concern during the middle ages. The metaphysical issue is whether or not these features exist independently of the particular things that have them: realists hold that they do; nominalists hold that they do not; conceptualists hold that they do so only mentally.

(via Philosophical Dictionary)

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