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Significative Supposition and Ockham’s Rule

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AbstractPaul Spade argues that there is a tension between Ockham’s descriptions of the various types of supposition at Summa Logicae (sl) I.64 and a rule he provides at sl I.65. In later papers, Spade proposes a solution: a term supposits significatively (i.e., personally) just in case it supposits for everything it signifies. I evaluate Spade’s proposal and explore some of its implications. I show that it successfully resolves the tension and that it suggests a way to more precisely describe material and simple supposition. I argue furthermore that Ockham is committed to the proposal by showing that uncontroversial features of his theory imply it. In doing so, I raise and refute three potential objections. Finally, I highlight and discuss a controversial result: self-signifying conventional terms can supposit materially. I argue that this result makes for a more satisfying theory.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, University of CaliforniaLos Angeles


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