Bradley's regress, Russell's states of affairs, and some general remarks on the problem

Holger Leerhoff


In this paper, I will give a presentation of Bradley's two main arguments against the reality of relations. Whereas one of his arguments is highly specific to Bradley's metaphysical background, his famous regress argument seems to pose a serious threat not only for ontological pluralism, but especially for states of affairs as an ontological category. Amongst the proponents of states-of-affairs ontologies two groups can be distinguished: One group holds states of affairs to be complexes consisting of their particular and universal constituents alone, the other holds that there has to be a "unifying relation" of some sort to establish the unity of a given state of affairs. Bradley's regress is often conceived to be a compelling argument against the first and for the latter. I will argue that the latter approaches have no real advantage over the simpler theories—neither in the light of Bradley's regress nor in other respects.


ontology, F. H. Bradley, Russell

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