more from Hilary Putnam

Single Idea 5818

[catalogued under 26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / b. Scientific necessity]

Full Idea

Once we have discovered that water (in the actual world) is H2O, nothing counts as a possible world in which water isn't H2O.

Gist of Idea

If water is H2O in the actual world, there is no possible world where it isn't H2O


Hilary Putnam (Meaning and Reference [1973], p.159)

Book Reference

'Meaning and Reference', ed/tr. Moore,A.W. [OUP 1993], p.159

A Reaction

Presumably there could be a possible world in which water is a bit cloudy, so the fact that it is H2O is being judged as essential. Presumably the scientists in the possible world might discover that we are wrong about the chemistry of water?