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How Things Might Have BeenIndividuals, Kinds, and Essential Properties$
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Penelope Mackie

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199272204

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199272204.001.0001

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Essentialism, Semantic Theory, and Natural Kinds

Essentialism, Semantic Theory, and Natural Kinds

Chapter:
(p.169) 10 Essentialism, Semantic Theory, and Natural Kinds
Source:
How Things Might Have Been
Author(s):

Penelope Mackie (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199272204.003.0010

Following Nathan Salmon and D. H. Mellor, this chapter argues that natural kind essentialism of the type advocated by Kripke and Putnam is not an inevitable consequence of the adoption of an anti-descriptivist semantic theory of natural kind terms. It attempts to clarify various issues about the characteristics of natural kind essentialism and its relation to semantic theory, as well as reinforcing the distinction made earlier in the book between essentialism about individuals and essentialism about natural kinds. The author remains agnostic on the question of the truth of essentialism about natural kinds, but suggests reasons for scepticism about its plausibility in comparison with some weaker views, such as the theory that a natural kind has a Lockean ‘real essence’ which need not belong to the kind in all possible worlds.

Keywords:   description theory, direct reference, essence, essentialism, Kripke, Mellor, natural kind, Putnam, Salmon, semantic theory

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