In: Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy (2013). Duncan Pritchard, ed., New York: Oxford University Press.

Abstract: Trope theory is the view that the world is (wholly or partly) constituted by so-called tropes and that the tropes which thus characterize reality are abstract particulars or, as some say, particular properties. Very little is uncontroversial when it comes to tropes and the theory or theories in which tropes are taken to figure. Among other things, this means that, even to characterize the trope as an abstract particular or as a particular property may not be accepted by all trope theorists. What attracts many to the theory is that it, in occupying a sort of middle position between classical nominalism (according to which all there is is particular) and classical realism (according to which there is a separate and fundamental category of properties) appears to avoid some of the troubles befalling either of those views. By accepting the existence of entities that are, or at least, that behave like, properties, first, trope theorist avoids the charge, often made against classical nominalists, of positing entities that are somehow too unstructured to be able to fulfill all of our explanatory needs. By not accepting the existence of universals, second, she avoids having to accept the existence of a kind of entity many find mysterious, counterintuitive, and “unscientific”. Apart from its very thin core assumption – that there are tropes – different trope theories need not have very much in common. Most trope theorists (but not all) believe that there is nothing but tropes. Most of these one-category trope theorists (but, again, not all) hold that distinct concrete particulars (which, by most, but again, not all, are understood as bundles of tropes) are the same – e.g., have the same color – when (some of) the tropes that characterize them are members of the same (exact) similarity class. And most (but not all) hold that resemblance between tropes is determined by their individual, intrinsic nature, where this nature is not understood in terms of anything else but is, rather, taken as a primitive. And so on. Tropes and trope theory, at least under that name, have been debated at least since the 1950ies which makes this a comparatively “young” discussion. The literature is however growing, and growing fast. In this text, the most important texts relating to the most important debates on the topic are listed.

Link to published paper here. Link to preprint here.