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Ideas of L.A. Paul, by Text

[American, fl. 2006, University of Arizona and Australia National University, then N.Carolina,Chapel Hill.]

2006 In Defense of Essentialism
Intro p.333 Deep essentialist objects have intrinsic properties that fix their nature; the shallow version makes it contextual
     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.
Intro p.333 'Modal realists' believe in many concrete worlds, 'actualists' in just this world, 'ersatzists' in abstract other worlds
     Full Idea: A 'modal realist' believes that there are many concrete worlds, while the 'actualist' believes in only one concrete world, the actual world. The 'ersatzist' is an actualist who takes nonactual possible worlds and their contents to be abstracta.
     From: L.A. Paul (In Defense of Essentialism [2006], Intro)
     A reaction: My view is something like that modal realism is wrong, and actualism is right, and possible worlds (if they really are that useful) are convenient abstract fictions, constructed (if we have any sense) out of the real possibilities in the actual world.
Intro p.334 Essentialism must deal with charges of arbitrariness, and failure to reduce de re modality
     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.
Intro p.334 Deep essentialists say essences constrain how things could change; modal profiles fix natures
     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.
1 p.334 'Substance theorists' take modal properties as primitive, without structure, just falling under a sortal
     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.
1 p.340 If an object's sort determines its properties, we need to ask what determines its sort
     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.
1 p.341 Substance essentialism says an object is multiple, as falling under various different sortals
     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.
3 p.349 An object's modal properties don't determine its possibilities
     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.
5 p.360 Absolutely unrestricted qualitative composition would allow things with incompatible properties
     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.