The type/token distinction appears to be generally explained in terms of objects. A given Honda Accord is, e.g., a token of of the type "Honda Accord". However, the literature I have read seems to do little to explain how such a distinction could/should be applied to events. Can anyone direct me to resources that discuss how to apply the type/token distinction to events?

3 Answers 3


I can't say it better than the SEP article:

The distinction between a type and its tokens is an ontological one between a general sort of thing and its particular concrete instances (to put it in an intuitive and preliminary way).

All events which actually occur, therefore, are token events.

  • The notion of "concrete instances" of events is a bit counterintuitive to me. Aren't events the interactions between various concrete objects? If so, is that sufficient for events to be considered concrete? And if that is the case, then an event is certainly not the same descriptive level as contreta such as cars, tables, etc., right? Nov 3, 2011 at 2:44
  • @Jaime Ravenet I think the word in this case simply means "actual/real", to highlight the fact that it is an actually occurring event as opposed to a hypothetical event. I don't think you're supposed to read into it beyond that. I suppose the definition would have been satisfactory without that term though, too. :)
    – stoicfury
    Nov 3, 2011 at 4:50
  • 2
    I appreciate the response.Very well stated! Nov 3, 2011 at 16:01

Any given event is a token; it may (or may not) be an event of a given type.

Seriously: it's that simple.

For more, see the SEP article-


Jon Barwise and his collaborators (especially John Perry) developed an extensive theory of Situations (as particulars, or tokens) and Situation Types, which also deals with events. Key works are Barwise and Perry's Situations and Attitudes (1983), Barwise's collection The Situation in Logic (1989) and Barwise and Seligman's Information Flow: The Logic of Distributed Systems (1997). The last provides some philosophical background and applications, and develops a mathematical theory of qualitative information using types and tokens; the events of probability are treated as event-types. There was also a series of conferences in the 1990's, proceedings are in the series Situation Theory and Applications. Perry's more recent work still uses some of this framework: Reference and Reflexivity (2001) and Critical Pragmatics (2011) with Kepa Korta deal with applications to language.

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