Review of Herbert Hochberg and Kevin Mulligan (eds.), Relations and Predicates [Frankfurt, Ontos Verlag, 2004]

Varzi, Achille C.

As the title suggests, Relations and Predicates deals mainly with the problem of universals, with special reference to the issues raised by relational predication. Some of the essays explore aspects of the history of these issues while others take up a number of questions that feature prominently in the current debate, such as the prospects of trope theory, Bradley’s regress, or the problem of order in relational facts. The volume, however, also includes essays that are only marginally connected to these central issues (such as the transitivity of the part-whole relation) or completely off the point (the seeming paradoxicality of certain contingent analytic falsehoods, such as ‘I am not here’), so the overall collection is somewhat incohesive. As to quality, the heterogeneity is even more noticeable. There are some good contributions—and we’ll come to those in a moment; but there are also essays that deserve no place in a respectable collection. In spite of the heterogeneity and unevenness of the ten essays that it collects, the volume as a whole has more than enough good things to offer. With some editorial supervision, a solid introduction, and perhaps a contribution by the second editor—whose work on formal relations has helped shape the current debate on many a topic touched on by these essays—Relations and Predicates could have been a very good book.



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October 28, 2014