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  1. Dispositions and the principle of least action revisited.Benjamin T. H. Smart & Karim P. Y. Thébault - 2015 - Analysis 75 (3):386-395.
    Some time ago, Joel Katzav and Brian Ellis debated the compatibility of dispositional essentialism with the principle of least action. Surprisingly, very little has been said on the matter since, even by the most naturalistically inclined metaphysicians. Here, we revisit the Katzav–Ellis arguments of 2004–05. We outline the two problems for the dispositionalist identified Katzav in his 2004 , and claim they are not as problematic for the dispositional essentialist at it first seems – but not for the reasons espoused (...)
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  2. Teleological essentialism across development.Rose David, Sara Jaramillo, Shaun Nichols & Zachary Horne - forthcoming - Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
    Do young children have a teleological conception of the essence of natural kinds? We tested this by examining how the preservation or alteration of an animal’s purpose affected children’s persistence judgments (N = 40, ages 4 - 12, Mean Age = 7.04, 61% female). We found that even when surface-level features of an animal (e.g., a bee) were preserved, if the entity’s purpose changed (e.g., the bee now spins webs), children were more likely to categorize the entity as a member (...)
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  3. Laws of Nature.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2024 - In A. R. J. Fisher & Anna-Sofia Maurin (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Properties. London: Routledge. pp. 337-346.
    Properties have an important role in specifying different views on laws of nature: virtually any position on laws will make some reference to properties, and some of the leading views even reduce laws to properties. This chapter will first outline what laws of nature are typically taken to be and then specify their connection to properties in more detail. We then move on to consider three different accounts of properties: natural, essential, and dispositional properties, and we shall see that different (...)
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  4. Natural Kind Essentialism.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2024 - In Kathrin Koslicki & Michael J. Raven (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Essence in Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 156-168.
    Natural kind essentialism is a specification of the intuitive idea that there are some mind-independent or objective categories in nature. These categories are thought to be characterised by a shared essence, which may involve intrinsic or extrinsic properties, mechanisms, or causal history. While the ontological basis of natural kinds has its roots in antiquity and especially Aristotle, the contemporary notion of a “natural kind” in philosophical discussion is often traced to William Whewell’s and John Stuart Mill’s work in the 1800s. (...)
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  5. How Things Have to Be.Nathan Salmon - 2023 - In Duško Prelević & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Epistemology of Modality and Philosophical Methodology. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 128-149.
    Penelope Mackie and Scott Soames argue, contrary to my Reference and Essence (R&E), that Hilary Putnam was correct that the direct-reference theory of natural-kind terms, taken in conjunction with empirical or otherwise uncontroversial premises, yields non-trivial essentialism, such as the conclusion that water is essentially two-parts hydrogen, one-part oxygen. A controversial distinction is drawn between rigid and non-rigid general terms. A new criterion for general-term rigidity is proposed, and Putnam’s ostensive definition of ‘water’ is reformulated accordingly to generate the consequence (...)
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  6. The Modal Basis of Scientific Modelling.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2023 - Synthese 201 (75):1-16.
    The practice of scientific modelling often resorts to hypothetical, false, idealised, targetless, partial, generalised, and other types of modelling that appear to have at least partially non-actual targets. In this paper, I will argue that we can avoid a commitment to non-actual targets by sketching a framework where models are understood as having networks of possibilities as their targets. This raises a further question: what are the truthmakers for the modal claims that we can derive from models? I propose that (...)
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  7. Humean nomic essentialism.Harjit Bhogal & Zee R. Perry - 2021 - Noûs 57 (1):81-99.
    Humeanism – the idea that there are no necessary connections between distinct existences – and Nomic Essentialism – the idea that properties essentially play the nomic roles that they do – are two of the most important and influential positions in the metaphysics of science. Traditionally, it has been thought that these positions were incompatible competitors. We disagree. We argue that there is an attractive version of Humeanism that captures the idea that, for example, mass essentially plays the role that (...)
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  8. Essence, modality, and intrinsicality.Gaétan Bovey - 2021 - Synthese 198 (8):7715-7737.
    Kit Fine famously objected against the idea that essence can be successfully analyzed in terms of de re necessity. In response, I want to explore a novel, interesting, but controversial modal account of essence in terms of intrinsicality and grounding. In the first section, I will single out two theoretical requirements that any essentialist theory should meet—the essentialist desideratum and the essentialist challenge—in order to clarify Fine’s objections. In the second section, I will assess Denby’s improved modal account, which appeals (...)
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  9. Essence and the inference problem.Ashley Coates - 2021 - Synthese 198 (2):915-931.
    Discussions about the nature of essence and about the inference problem for non-Humean theories of nomic modality have largely proceeded independently of each other. In this article I argue that the right conclusions to draw about the inference problem actually depend significantly on how best to understand the nature of essence. In particular, I argue that this conclusion holds for the version of the inference problem developed and defended by Alexander Bird. I argue that Bird’s own argument that this problem (...)
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  10. Formal Causes for Powers Theorists.Giacomo Giannini & Stephen Mumford - 2021 - In Ludger Jansen & Petter Sandstad (eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Formal Causation. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. pp. 87-106.
    In this paper we examine whether and how powers ontologies can back formal causation. We attempt to answer three questions: i) what is formal causation; ii) whether we need formal causation, and iii) whether formal causation need powers and whether it can be grounded in powers. We take formal causal explanations to be explanations in which something's essence features prominently in the explanans. Three kinds of essential explanations are distinguished: constitutive, consequential, and those singling out something's propria. This last kind (...)
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  11. Reconsidering the Dispositional Essentialist Canon.Samuel Kimpton-Nye - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (10):3421-3441.
    Dispositional Essentialism is a unified anti-Humean account of the metaphysics of low-level physical properties and laws of nature. In this paper, I articulate the view that I label Canonical Dispositional Essentialism, which comprises a structuralist metaphysics of properties and an account of laws as relations in the property structure. I then present an alternative anti-Humean account of properties and laws. This account rejects CDE’s structuralist metaphysics of properties in favour of a view of properties as qualitative grounds of dispositions and (...)
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  12. Natural kind terms again.Panu Raatikainen - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-17.
    The new externalist picture of natural kind terms due to Kripke, Putnam, and others has become quite popular in philosophy. Many philosophers of science have remained sceptical. Häggqvist and Wikforss have recently criticised this view severely. They contend it depends essentially on a micro-essentialist view of natural kinds that is widely rejected among philosophers of science, and that a scientifically reasonable metaphysics entails the resurrection of some version of descriptivism. It is argued in this paper that the situation is not (...)
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  13. Dispositional and categorical properties, and Russellian Monism.Eric Hiddleston - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (1):65-92.
    This paper has two main aims. The first is to present a general approach for understanding “dispositional” and “categorical” properties; the second aim is to use this approach to criticize Russellian Monism. On the approach I suggest, what are usually thought of as “dispositional” and “categorical” properties are really just the extreme ends of a spectrum of options. The approach allows for a number of options between these extremes, and it is plausible, I suggest, that just about everything of scientific (...)
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  14. Teleological Essentialism.David Rose & Shaun Nichols - 2019 - Cognitive Science 43 (4):e12725.
    Placeholder essentialism is the view that there is a causal essence that holds category members together, though we may not know what the essence is. Sometimes the placeholder can be filled in by scientific essences, such as when we acquire scientific knowledge that the atomic weight of gold is 79. We challenge the view that placeholders are elaborated by scientific essences. On our view, if placeholders are elaborated, they are elaborated Aristotelian essences, a telos. Utilizing the same kinds of experiments (...)
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  15. Causal essentialism and the identity of indiscernibles.Cameron Gibbs - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (9):2331-2351.
    Causal essentialists hold that a property essentially bears its causal and nomic relations. Further, as many causal essentialists have noted, the main motivations for causal essentialism also motivate holding that properties are individuated in terms of their causal and nomic relations. This amounts to a kind of identity of indiscernibles thesis; properties that are indiscernible with respect to their causal and nomic relations are identical. This can be compared with the more well-known identity of indiscernibles thesis, according to which particulars (...)
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  16. Putting Modal Metaphysics First.Antonella Mallozzi - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 8):1-20.
    I propose that we approach the epistemology of modality by putting modal metaphysics first and, specifically, by investigating the metaphysics of essence. Following a prominent Neo-Aristotelian view, I hold that metaphysical necessity depends on the nature of things, namely their essences. I further clarify that essences are core properties having distinctive superexplanatory powers. In the case of natural kinds, which is my focus in the paper, superexplanatoriness is due to the fact that the essence of a kind is what causes (...)
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  17. The Epistemology of Essence.Tuomas Tahko - 2018 - In Alexander Carruth, Sophie Gibb & John Heil (eds.), Ontology, Modality, and Mind: Themes From the Metaphysics of E. J. Lowe. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 93-110.
    The epistemology of essence is a topic that has received relatively little attention, although there are signs that this is changing. The lack of literature engaging directly with the topic is probably partly due to the mystery surrounding the notion of essence itself, and partly due to the sheer difficulty of developing a plausible epistemology. The need for such an account is clear especially for those, like E.J. Lowe, who are committed to a broadly Aristotelian conception of essence, whereby essence (...)
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  18. Essentiality without Necessity.Petter Sandstad - 2016 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 30 (1):61-78.
    It is widely accepted that if a property is essential then it is necessary. Against this I present numerous counterexamples from biology and chemistry, which fall into two groups: (I) A property is essential to a genus or species, yet some instances of this genus or species do not have this essential property. (II) A property is essential to a genus, yet some species of this genus do not have this essential property. I discuss and reject four minor objections. Then (...)
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  19. The Modal Status of Laws: In Defence of a Hybrid View.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (260):509-528.
    Three popular views regarding the modal status of the laws of nature are discussed: Humean Supervenience, nomic necessitation, and scientific/dispositional essentialism. These views are examined especially with regard to their take on the apparent modal force of laws and their ability to explain that modal force. It will be suggested that none of the three views, at least in their strongest form, can be maintained if some laws are metaphysically necessary, but others are metaphysically contingent. Some reasons for thinking that (...)
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  20. Natural Kind Essentialism Revisited.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2015 - Mind 124 (495):795-822.
    Recent work on Natural Kind Essentialism has taken a deflationary turn. The assumptions about the grounds of essentialist truths concerning natural kinds familiar from the Kripke-Putnam framework are now considered questionable. The source of the problem, however, has not been sufficiently explicated. The paper focuses on the Twin Earth scenario, and it will be demonstrated that the essentialist principle at its core (which I call IDENT)—that necessarily, a sample of a chemical substance, A, is of the same kind as another (...)
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  21. Necessary Laws and Chemical Kinds.Nora Berenstain - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (4):631-647.
    Contingentism, generally contrasted with law necessitarianism, is the view that the laws of nature are contingent. It is often coupled with the claim that their contingency is knowable a priori. This paper considers Bird's (2001, 2002, 2005, 2007) arguments for the thesis that, necessarily, salt dissolves in water; and it defends his view against Beebee's (2001) and Psillos's (2002) contingentist objections. A new contingentist objection is offered and several reasons for scepticism about its success are raised. It is concluded that (...)
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  22. Can bare dispositions explain categorical regularities?Tyler Hildebrand - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):569-584.
    One of the traditional desiderata for a metaphysical theory of laws of nature is that it be able to explain natural regularities. Some philosophers have postulated governing laws to fill this explanatory role. Recently, however, many have attempted to explain natural regularities without appealing to governing laws. Suppose that some fundamental properties are bare dispositions. In virtue of their dispositional nature, these properties must be (or are likely to be) distributed in regular patterns. Thus it would appear that an ontology (...)
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  23. The Emperor's New Metaphysics of Powers.Stephen Barker - 2013 - Mind 122 (487):605-653.
    This paper argues that the new metaphysics of powers, also known as dispositional essentialism or causal structuralism, is an illusory metaphysics. I argue for this in the following way. I begin by distinguishing three fundamental ways of seeing how facts of physical modality — facts about physical necessitation and possibility, causation, disposition, and chance — are grounded in the world. The first way, call it the first degree, is that the actual world or all worlds, in their entirety, are the (...)
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  24. Dispositional Essentialism and the Laws of Nature.Barbara Vetter - 2013 - In Alexander Bird, Brian David Ellis & Howard Sankey (eds.), Properties, Powers and Structures: Issues in the Metaphysics of Realism. New York: Routledge.
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  25. The Essence of Dispositional Essentialism.David Yates - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1):93-128.
    Dispositional essentialists argue that physical properties have their causal roles essentially. This is typically taken to mean that physical properties are identical to dispositions. I argue that this is untenable, and that we must instead say that properties bestow dispositions. I explore what it is for a property to have such a role essentially. Dispositional essentialists argue for their view by citing certain epistemological and metaphysical implications, and I appeal to these implications to place desiderata on the concept of essence (...)
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  26. The Ultimate Argument Against Dispositional Monist Accounts of Laws.Stephen Barker & Benjamin Smart - 2012 - Analysis 72 (4):714-722.
    Bird argues that Armstrong’s necessitarian conception of physical modality and laws of nature generates a vicious regress with respect to necessitation. We show that precisely the same regress afflicts Bird’s dispositional-monist theory, and indeed, related views, such as that of Mumford & Anjum. We argue that dispositional monism is basically Armstrongian necessitarianism modified to allow for a thesis about property identity.
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  27. Scientific essentialism in the light of classification practice in biology – a case study of phytosociology.Adam P. Kubiak & Rafał R. Wodzisz - 2012 - Zagadnienia Naukoznawstwa 48 (194):231-250.
    In our paper we investigate a difficulty arising when one tries to reconsiliateessentialis t’s thinking with classification practice in the biological sciences. The article outlinessome varieties of essentialism with particular attention to the version defended by Brian Ellis. Weunderline the basic difference: Ellis thinks that essentialism is not a viable position in biology dueto its incompatibility with biological typology and other essentialists think that these two elementscan be reconciled. However, both parties have in common metaphysical starting point and theylack explicit (...)
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  28. Can Dispositional Essences Ground the Laws of Nature?Richard Corry - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (2):263-275.
    A dispositional property is a tendency, or potency, to manifest some characteristic behaviour in some appropriate context. The mainstream view in the twentieth century was that such properties are to be explained in terms of more fundamental non-dispositional properties, together with the laws of nature. In the last few decades, however, a rival view has become popular, according to which some properties are essentially dispositional in nature, and the laws of nature are to be explained in terms of these fundamental (...)
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  29. The Powerlessness of Necessity.Markus Schrenk - 2010 - Noûs 44 (4):725-739.
    This paper concerns anti-Humean intuitions about connections in nature. It argues for the existence of a de re link that is not necessity.Some anti-Humeans tacitly assume that metaphysical necessity can be used for all sorts of anti-Humean desires. Metaphysical necessity is thought to stick together whatever would be loose and separate in a Hume world, as if it were a kind of universal superglue.I argue that this is not feasible. Metaphysical necessity might connect synchronically co-existent properties—kinds and their essential features, (...)
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  30. Causal structuralism, dispositional actualism, and counterfactual conditionals.Antony Eagle - 2009 - In Toby Handfield (ed.), Dispositions and causes. New York : Oxford University Press,: Clarendon Press ;. pp. 65--99.
    Dispositional essentialists are typically committed to two claims: that properties are individuated by their causal role (‘causal structuralism’), and that natural necessity is to be explained by appeal to these causal roles (‘dispositional actualism’). I argue that these two claims cannot be simultaneously maintained; and that the correct response is to deny dispositional actualism. Causal structuralism remains an attractive position, but doesn’t in fact provide much support for dispositional essentialism.
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  31. How Scientific Is Scientific Essentialism?Muhammad Ali Khalidi - 2009 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 40 (1):85-101.
    Scientific essentialism holds that: (1) each scientific kind is associated with the same set of properties in every possible world; and (2) every individual member of a scientific kind belongs to that kind in every possible world in which it exists. Recently, Ellis (Scientific essentialism, 2001 ; The philosophy of nature 2002 ) has provided the most sustained defense of scientific essentialism, though he does not clearly distinguish these two claims. In this paper, I argue that both claims face a (...)
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  32. Lange on essentialism, counterfactuals, and explanation.Toby Handfield - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (1):81 – 85.
    Marc Lange objects to scientific essentialists that they can give no better account of the counterfactual invariance of laws than Humeans. While conceding this point succeeds ad hominem against some essentialists, I show that it does not undermine essentialism in general. Moreover, Lange's alternative account of the relation between laws and counterfactuals is - with minor modification - compatible with essentialism.
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  33. Law necessitarianism and the importance of being intuitive.Daniel Z. Korman - 2005 - Philosophical Quarterly 55 (221):649–657.
    The counterintuitive implications of law necessitarianism pose a far more serious threat than its proponents recognize. Law necessitarians are committed to scientific essentialism, the thesis that there are metaphysically necessary truths which can be known only a posteriori. The most frequently cited arguments for this position rely on modal intuitions. Rejection of intuition thus threatens to undermine it. I consider ways in which law necessitarians might try to defend scientific essentialism without invoking intuition. I then consider ways in which law (...)
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  34. The Bookkeeper and the Lumberjack. Metaphysical vs. Nomological Necessity.Markus Schrenk - 2005 - In G. Abel (ed.), Kreativität. XX. Deutscher Kongress für Philosophie. Sektionsbeiträge Band 1. Universitätsverlag der Technischen Universität.
    The striking difference between the orthodox nomological necessitation view of laws and the claims made recently by Scientific Essentialism is that on the latter interpretation laws are metaphysically necessary while they are contingent on the basis of the former. This shift is usually perceived as an upgrading: essentialism makes the laws as robust as possible. The aim of my paper—in which I contrast Brian Ellis’s Scientific Essentialism and David Armstrong’s theory of nomological necessity—is threefold. (1) I first underline the familiar (...)
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  35. Evolución, pensamiento poblacionaly esencialismo.Elliott Sober - 2004 - Ludus Vitalis 12 (21):115-148.
    Los filósofos han tendido a discutir el esencialismo como si fuera una doctrina global, una filosofía que, por alguna razón uniforme, debiera ser adoptada por todas las ciencias o por ninguna. Popper (1972) ha adoptado una postura global negativa, porque ve al esencialismo como un obstáculo fundamental para la racionalidad científica. También Quine (1953b, 1960), por una combinación de motivos semánticos y epistemológicos, quiere desterrar el esencialismo de la totalidad del discurso científico. Sin embargo, en fechas más recientes, Putnam (1975) (...)
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  36. Induction and scientific realism: Einstein versus Van Fraassen: Part two: Aim-oriented empiricism and scientific essentialism.Nicholas Maxwell - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (1):81-101.
    In this paper I argue that aim-oriented empiricism provides decisive grounds for accepting scientific realism and rejecting instrumentalism. But it goes further than this. Aim-oriented empiricism implies that physicalism is a central part of current (conjectural) scientific knowledge. Furthermore, we can and need, I argue, to interpret fundamental physical theories as attributing necessitating physical properties to fundamental physical entities.
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  37. The philosophical limits of scientific essentialism.George Bealer - 1987 - Philosophical Perspectives 1:289-365.
    Scientific essentialism is the view that some necessities can be known only with the aid of empirical science. The thesis of the paper is that scientific essentialism does not extend to the central questions of philosophy and that these questions can be answered a priori. The argument is that the evidence required for the defense of scientific essentialism is reliable only if the intuitions required by philosophy to answer its central questions is also reliable. Included is an outline of a (...)
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