Nominalism is a metaphysical view in philosophy according to which general or abstract terms and predicates exist, while universals or abstract objects, which are sometimes thought to correspond to these terms, do not exist. There are at least two main versions of nominalism. One version denies the existence of universals – things that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things (e.g., strength, humanity). The other version specifically denies the existence of abstract objects – objects that do not exist in space and time.
Most nominalists have held that only physical particulars in space and time are real, and that universals exist only post res, that is, subsequent to particular things. However, some versions of nominalism hold that some particulars are abstract entities (e.g., numbers), while others are concrete entities – entities that do exist in space and time (e.g., thrones, couches, bananas).
Nominalism is primarily a position on the problem of universals, which dates back at least to Plato, and is opposed to realism – the view that universals do exist over and above particulars. However, the name "nominalism" emerged from debates in medieval philosophy with Roscellinus.
The term 'nominalism' stems from the Latin nomen, "name." For example, John Stuart Mill once wrote, that "there is nothing general except names". In philosophy of law, nominalism finds its application in what is called constitutional nominalism.