Dr. David Hommen (Univ. Düsseldorf) - Tropes in Frame Theory

Date / Time:
25.04.17   /  18:30 - 20:00

Institut für Theoretische Philosophie

24.53.01 Raum 81


Im Rahmen des Forschungsseminars laden wir recht herzlich ein zum Vortrag:

Dr. David Hommen - Tropes in Frame Theory

Are the values of attributes in frames to be interpreted as universal properties which can be instantiated by multiple objects or rather as tropes – particularized properties which uniquely pertain to the object in which they inhere?

A problem for an interpretation of values in terms of universals seems to arise when frames are recursively specified, i.e., when a value like red is assigned a specific shade like scarlet. This seems problematic because it is wrong to assign a single shade of color to the universal red; for two objects might share the same universal red but exemplify different shades of red. The SHADE attribute, however, can assign only one value to its argument. Trope theory seems to circumvent this difficulty, because in cases of different shades of red, the SHADE attribute has different arguments: e.g., red1 might be scarlet while red2 might be crimson.

Thus, to the extent in which it is committed to property realism at all, frame theory seems to favor an ontology that interprets the attribute values in frames as tropes over one which construes them as universals. In this talk, I shall argue, however, that the relative merits of trope theory compared to universals realism are merely apparent. To show this, I distinguish two versions of trope theory which operate with different concepts of a trope – what I will call module tropes and modifier tropes, respectively. Module and modifier tropes are both non-shareable character grounders, as opposed to universals which are shareable character grounders. The difference between module and modifier tropes is that module tropes are supposed to be non-shareable self-exemplifying character-grounders whereas modifier tropes are non-shareable non-self-exemplifying character grounders. As I will try to show, module and modifier tropes make for diverging accounts of the relationship between determinable values like red and determinate values like scarlet. The module/modifier distinction therefore presents a consequential choice of model which divides the alleged advantages of trope theory simpliciter as regards a solution to the problem of recursive extension.


David Hommen, M.A. in philosophy, media studies and musicology, doctoral degree in philosophy, currently research fellow in the DFG Collaborative Research Centre “The Structure of Representations in Language, Cognition, and Science.” Selected Publications: “Negative Kausalität,” Berlin: de Gruyter, 2012 (with Dieter Birnbacher); “Mentale Verursachung, innere Erfahrung und handelnde Personen,” Münster: mentis, 2013; “Wittgensteinian Pragmatism in Humean Concepts,” Philosophia 44(1), 117-135; Concepts and Categorization. Systematic and Historical Perspectives,” Münster, mentis 2016 (edited with Christoph Kann and Tanja Osswald).


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