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Wetzel, Linda. Types and Tokens
2006, in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. E.N. Zalta. Online: Stanford University.
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Added by: Jamie Collin
Abstract: The distinction between a type and its tokens is a useful metaphysical distinction. In §1 it is explained what it is, and what it is not. Its importance and wide applicability in linguistics, philosophy, science and everyday life are briefly surveyed in §2. Whether types are universals is discussed in §3. §4 discusses some other suggestions for what types are, both generally and specifically. Is a type the sets of its tokens? What exactly is a word, a symphony, a species? §5 asks what a token is. §6 considers the relation between types and their tokens. Do the type and all its tokens share the same properties? Must all the tokens be alike in some or all respects? §7 explains some problems for the view that types exist, and some problems for the view that they don't. §8 elucidates a distinction often confused with the type-token distinction, that between a type (or token) and an occurrence of it. It also discusses some problems that occurrences might be thought to give rise to, and one way to resolve them.

Comment: Would be useful in advanced undergraduate or postgraduate courses on metaphysics or philosophy of language. Though Wetzel's goal is, ultimately, to address metaphysical questions about the existence of types, the type/token distinction crops up in many areas of philosophy, and this would be an excellent reference point for explaining what the distinction amounts to. Though the entry is on the less-discussed topic of types, it is also relevant to the more-discussed topic of universals. This would be very suitable for an undergraduate course in metaphysics or philosophical logic. It would also work well at the beginning of a masters course in metaphysics or philosophical logic. This is a particularly good alternative to Wetzel's book "Types and Tokens" if that is unavailable at your institution.

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