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Obviously I disagree over your conception of changing concepts. (I think your characterization of the gender roles is incorrect, but so too is the relative stability of the concepts)

One additional fly in your ointment is the problematic nature of "equality." My sense is that by equal you mean symmetrical in relationships. But isn't that itself problematic?

I commented a bit on the problem of universals on my blog today. I think that this is one big problem of McMurrin in that it allows one to conflate relatively stable concepts or structures with universals.

Whoops. Hit enter too soon. Put simply, I think McMurrin by not being careful and clear provides a text that can mislead readers into seeing the universal versus nominalist debate as merely a debate about static versus dynamic. I don't think that is correct and can lead to a lot of misunderstandings.

Clark, which changing concepts are you referring to? Do you mean McMurrin's Priesthood and Church, and my Marriage and Motherhood? Or are you referring to changing scientific theories I mentioned earlier in the post?

Clark, okay I went and read your post on universals. Yes, it's clear McMurrin isn't really proposing Priesthood and Church as Platonic universals. Perhaps (from memory here) he was merely trying to make the point that those concepts seem to be given some existent status independent of the nominal units (priests, members) involved. Joseph's Nauvoo-era use of the term "Priesthood" suggests he saw it as a what might best be described as a force. Nowadays, we see "forces" as exchanges of exotic particles. "Church" and "Marriage," on the other hand, might be emergent properties but it seems like McMurrin's point was that these terms are seen as more than just properties.

I don't necessarily think universals have to be Platonic universals. (Although that was the most common form) There can be what are called Armstrong Universals as well.

What is most frustrating about McMurrin is he raises these issues in passing and then says nothing about it. Yet they are fairly controversial and (IMO) fairly significant.

I agree that Priesthood is a significant conceptual entity. I have a hard time understanding what it would mean to speak of "Priesthood" as an universial except as a strong neoPlatonic universal ala some of the Resaissance speculations. Which, given the Book of Abraham, Masonry and so forth, can't be neglected as an influence on Joseph Smith. But McMurrin doesn't really get into these issues.

BTW - seeing forces as exchange of exotic particles is seen by many as a "mathematical fiction." Others believe it. It all depends upon how one interprets what are called Feynman Diagrams. The problem with interpreting them realistically is that commits you to the reality of backwards causality since the particles go backwards in time.

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