Why tropes cannot be metaphysically simple
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A popular concept in contemporary metaphysics is that of metaphysical simplicity - the idea that an existent can have no parts. One reason for this is that the notion of a simple is crucial to discussions of the composition of single objects. Simples, if real, are the basic units that, when combined in various ways, make up all other objects. Keith Campbell claims that tropes - particularized properties - can be simple. In this essay I argue, against Campbell, that tropes cannot be simple. They are made up of at least two parts - a bare particular and a universal. In Section 1 I give an exhaustive account of what it is to be a simple. Then in Section 2 I discuss basic particulars and what conditions must hold for a simple to be basic. Then in Section 3 I explain the nature of tropes and sketch out the parameters of Campbell's trope ontology. In Section 4 I argue that simple tropes actually have universal properties as parts. In Section 5 I give a logical argument to prove the correctness of the argument in Section 4. Then in Section 6 I take up several possible objections to my claim that tropes are not simple and argue that each one fails. Finally in Section 7 I conclude that tropes need to have an individuating component as a part and remark that tropes' location is not sufficient to be this component. My final claim is that tropes are not simple and they cannot be basic units in any robust sense.
Hellwig, Heinrik Ziehm (2008). Why tropes cannot be metaphysically simple. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from