Reply To: Basics Questions on Terms


You wrote: “It sounds like singular concepts are concepts that extend to one specific thing (I want to avoid using the word “individual” here), while individual concepts are universals, extending to an infinite number of singulars, that are taken individually – or maybe it’s better to say “taken one at a time?””

Singular terms {I’m not sure I’d want to use the expression ‘singular concept’ as concepts by their very nature are usually taken to be applicable to more than one entity. Here, however, Leibniz and some other philosophers might want to start an argument) are terms that refer to a unique entity. Individual concepts, McCall’s examples suggest, are restricted universals which, as I suggested in my last post, appear to function logically as if they were singular terms.

You wrote: “McCall said earlier in the chapter that as comprehension increases extension decreases. Does an individual concept side step this inverse relationship? I can see how saying “this man” might call to mind the image of a specific man and his unique traits, whereas saying the term “my father” limits the universal concept “father” to just one of its many singulars without at all changing the image of the universal concept. It seems a bit “gentler” or “less restricting” I suppose. Is this correct?”

What you are suggesting seems reasonable to me though I would have to think about it quite a bit more before I’d commit to a definitive answer. I repeat what I said in my last post – ‘Fortunately, for our purposes in formal logic, we don’t have to have an airtight grasp on it – much of this material really belongs to what would now be called the philosophy of logic/epistemology.’

You wrote: “I have just one other question about the chapter on Terms and wanted to see if I could first grasp the singular concept vs. individual concept distinction.”

Regardless of whether you are completely clear on the matter in hand, please go ahead and ask your next question.

Best wishes,