**F.H. Bradley’s
Regress**

This is how Graham Stevens
summarizes F.H. Bradley’s regress:

“Bradley’s regress can be put
very simply. If *aRb*
is a complex whose constituents are the things *a* and *b* and the relation *R*, how
does *R* succeed in actually relating *a* and *b*? *R* can relate *a* and *b* only if it is itself related to them.
If it is not related to them, then there is nothing to distinguish the complex
entity *aRb*
from the mere aggregate of *a*, *R* and *b*. But if it is related to them, is there something that relates it
to them? If there is something that relates it (let us call this hypothetical
something ‘*Q*’, then we now have a new
complex *Q(R, a, b)*. But this just
leaves us with the question of what relates *Q*
to *R*, *a* and *b*. Thus we launch the regress. Yet, if we conclude from this that
no new entity is required to relate *R*,
*a* and *b*, the nature of relations is left
wholly mysterious – we have no explanation of how relations relate. Bradley’s
response to the regress was to conclude that relations are illusory.”

**Reference**

Stevens,
G. 2008. Russell and
the Unity of the Proposition. *Philosophy
Compass* 3: 491-506.