Traditional theories of universals allowed, or tended to allow, universals corresponding to most general words and general concepts. (There is an analogy here with Predicate Nominalism.) The idea was that one can pretty much read off universals from descriptive predicates. I reject this, and this rejection, I'm happy to say, has been widely accepted (among those who accept universals). When David Lewis came to accept property classes, or tropes, or universals (while not choosing between the three positions) he used the word 'sparse' to indicate that he accepted the getting away from an uncritical use of predicates to pick out these classes, tropes, or universals. 'Sparse' is a very useful word here. It tell us that in postulating universals we should not postulate them promiscuously.
D. M. Armstrong, Sketch for a Systematic Metaphysics, 2010.
Reference and the Elusive Self / Workshop on John Perry's (most recent) work -Videos & Photos available
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