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Types And Tokens

  Tokens, in philosophy, are particular instances of a type of thing. Types are sorts or kinds of things. Suppose that, overcome with regret, I say ‘I\'m sorry’, pause and then repeat, ‘I\'m sorry’, then I have said the same thing twice. I have made two utterances of the same type, but I did make two utterances. I produced two tokens of the same type.

The distinction between types and tokens is often important. For example, it enables us to distinguish between two forms of the identity theory, the theory that mental events are physical. The type identity theory holds that mental types are physical, that, for example, the mental type pain is identical to the physical type C-fibre stimulation. This entails that all pains are C-fibre stimulations. A weaker and perhaps more plausible version of the identity theory is the token identity theory. This states that every token mental event is physical. Every pain is physical, but while some may be C-fibre stimulations other may be D or E type stimulations. AJ

See also universals and particulars.



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