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9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 15. Against Essentialism

[reasons to deny the existence of 'essences']

34 ideas
Is the being or essence of each thing private to each person? [Plato]
Substantial forms are not understood, and explain nothing [Descartes]
Essence is just an artificial word from logic, giving a way of thinking about substances [Hobbes]
There are no independent natural kinds - or our classifications have to be subjective [Locke, by Jolley]
We know five properties of gold, but cannot use four of them to predict the fifth one [Locke]
Leibniz was not an essentialist [Leibniz, by Wiggins]
The essence of a thing is only an opinion about the 'thing' [Nietzsche]
Change is obscured by substance, a thing's nature, subject-predicate form, and by essences [Russell]
Essences can make sense in a particular context or enquiry, as the most basic predicates [Quine]
Quantification into modal contexts requires objects to have an essence [Quine]
Aristotelian essence of the object has become the modern essence of meaning [Quine]
Mathematicians must be rational but not two-legged, cyclists the opposite. So a mathematical cyclist? [Quine]
Cyclist are not actually essentially two-legged [Brody on Quine]
Popper felt that ancient essentialism was a bar to progress [Popper, by Mautner]
Putnam smuggles essentialism about liquids into his proof that water must be H2O [Salmon,N on Putnam]
Essences might support Resemblance Nominalism, but they are too coarse and ill-defined [Armstrong]
The old idea that identity depends on essence and behaviour is rejected by the empiricists [Ellis]
There is no subset of properties which guarantee a thing's identity [Shoemaker]
Quine may have conflated de re and de dicto essentialism, but there is a real epistemological problem [Jackson]
We say the essence of particles is energy, but only so we can tell a story about the nature of things [Harré/Madden]
Essentialism is said to be unintelligible, because relative, if necessary truths are all analytic [Cartwright,R]
Bare particular anti-essentialism makes no sense within modal logic semantics [Stalnaker]
Essentialism for concreta is false, since they can come apart under two concepts [Gibbard]
Essentialism is false, because it implies the existence of necessary singular propositions [McMichael]
Any property is attached to anything in some possible world, so I am a radical anti-essentialist [Salmon,N]
Critics say that essences are too mysterious to be known [Shalkowski]
Could we replace essence with collections of powers? [Oderberg]
Essence (even if nonmodal) is not fundamental in metaphysics [Sider]
That the essence of water is its microstructure is a convention, not a discovery [Sidelle]
Essentialism is useful for predictions, but it is not the actual structure of reality [Gelman]
Essentialism must deal with charges of arbitrariness, and failure to reduce de re modality [Paul,LA]
An object's modal properties don't determine its possibilities [Paul,LA]
Cluster kinds are explained simply by sharing some properties, not by an 'essence' [Chakravartty]
Individual essences are just cobbled together classificatory predicates [Almog]