Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Carl Ginet, Erik J. Olsson and L.A. Paul

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8 ideas

9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / e. Individuation by kind
'Substance theorists' take modal properties as primitive, without structure, just falling under a sortal [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: Some deep essentialists resist the need to explain the structure under de re modal properties, taking them as primitive. One version (which we can call 'substance theory') takes them to fall under a sortal concept, with no further explanation.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], 1)
     A reaction: A very helpful identification of what Wiggins stands for, and why I disagree with him. The whole point of essences is to provide a notion that fits in with sciences, which means they must have an explanatory role, which needs structures.
If an object's sort determines its properties, we need to ask what determines its sort [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: If the substance essentialist holds that the sort an object belongs to determines its de re modal properties (rather than the other way round), then he needs to give an (ontological, not conceptual) explanation of what determines an object's sort.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], 1)
     A reaction: See Idea 14193 for 'substance essentialism'. I find it quite incredible that anyone could think that a thing's sort could determine its properties, rather than the other way round. Even if sortals are conventional, they are not arbitrary.
Substance essentialism says an object is multiple, as falling under various different sortals [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: The explanation of material constitution given by substance essentialism is that there are multiple objects. A person is essentially human-shaped (falling under the human sort), while their hunk of tissue is accidentally human-shaped (as tissue).
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], 1)
     A reaction: At this point sortal essentialism begins to look crazy. Persons are dubious examples (with sneaky dualism involved). A bronze statue is essentially harder to dent than a clay one, because of its bronze. If you remake it of clay, it isn't the same statue.
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / b. Sums of parts
Absolutely unrestricted qualitative composition would allow things with incompatible properties [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: Absolutely unrestricted qualitative composition would imply that objects with incompatible properties and objects such as winged pigs or golden mountains were actual.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], 5)
     A reaction: Note that this is 'qualitative' composition, and not composition of parts. The objection seems to rule out unrestricted qualitative composition, since you could hardly combine squareness with roundness.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 2. Types of Essence
Deep essentialist objects have intrinsic properties that fix their nature; the shallow version makes it contextual [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: Essentialism says that objects have their properties essentially. 'Deep' essentialists take the (nontrivial) essential properties of an object to determine its nature. 'Shallow' essentialists substitute context-dependent truths for the independent ones.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], Intro)
     A reaction: If the deep essence determines a things nature, we should not need to say 'nontrivial'. This is my bete noire, the confusion of essential properties with necessary ones, where necessary properties (or predicates, at least) can indeed be trivial.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 6. Essence as Unifier
Deep essentialists say essences constrain how things could change; modal profiles fix natures [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: The deep essentialist holds that most objects have essential properties such that there are many ways they could not be, or many changes through which they could not persist. Objects' modal profiles characterize their natures.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], Intro)
     A reaction: This is the view I like, especially the last bit. If your modal profile doesn't determine your nature, then what does? Think of how you sum up a person at a funeral. Your modal profile is determined by dispositions and powers.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 15. Against Essentialism
Essentialism must deal with charges of arbitrariness, and failure to reduce de re modality [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: Two objections to deep essentialism are that it falters when faced with a skeptical objection concerning arbitrariness, and the need for a reductive account of de re modality.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], Intro)
     A reaction: An immediate response to the second objection might be to say that modal facts about things are not reducible. The charge of arbitrariness (i.e. total arbitrariness, not just a bit of uncertainty) is the main thing a theory of essences must deal with.
An object's modal properties don't determine its possibilities [Paul,LA]
     Full Idea: I reject the view that an object's de re modal properties determine its relations to possibilia.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], 3)
     A reaction: You'll have to read Paul to see why, but I flat disagree with her on this. The whole point of accepting such properties is to determine the modal profile of the thing, and hence see how it can fit into and behave in the world.