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Ideas of Tuomas E. Tahko, by Text

[Finnish, fl. 2012, At the University of Helsinki.]

2013 The Epistemology of Essence (draft)
1 p.2 Essences are used to explain natural kinds, modality, and causal powers
     Full Idea: Essences are supposed to do a lot of explanatory work: natural kinds can be identified in terms of their essences, metaphysical modality can be reduced to essence, the causal power of objects can be explained with the help of essence.
     From: Tuomas E. Tahko (The Epistemology of Essence (draft) [2013], 1)
     A reaction: Natural kinds and modality are OK with me, but I'm dubious about the third one. If an essence explains something's causal powers, I have no idea what an essence might be. Essence are largely characterised in terms of causal powers.
2.1 p.5 Scientific essentialists tend to characterise essence in terms of modality (not vice versa)
     Full Idea: The conception of essence taken for granted in much of the 'scientific essentialist' literature is that essence can be explained in terms of modality (rather than the other way round).
     From: Tuomas E. Tahko (The Epistemology of Essence (draft) [2013], 2.1)
     A reaction: [He cites Ellis and Bird] That is, presumably, that they are inclined to say that the essence of gold is a set of necessary properties. Maybe conceptual necessities dictate the properties of gold, and they in turn dictate metaphysical necessities?
2.1 p.6 If essence is modal and laws are necessary, essentialist knowledge is found by scientists
     Full Idea: If essence is conceived in terms of modality and the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary, it seems that the laws of nature constitute essentialist knowledge, so the discovery of essences is mostly due to scientists.
     From: Tuomas E. Tahko (The Epistemology of Essence (draft) [2013], 2.1)
     A reaction: This seems muddled to me. The idea that the laws themselves are essences is way off target. No one thinks all knowledge of necessities is essentialist. Mumford, for example, doesn't even believe in laws.
3.2 p.16 If conceivability is a priori coherence, that implies possibility
     Full Idea: Maybe conceivability could be understood as a priori coherence, which implies possibility.
     From: Tuomas E. Tahko (The Epistemology of Essence (draft) [2013], 3.2)
     A reaction: I'm not quite sure why 'a priori' has to be there. Assessing conceivability just is assessing coherence. That couches it as a rational activity, rather than as a purely imaginary one. Trying to conceive a square circle isn't just daydreaming.