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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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Sortal Concepts and Essential Properties II: Sortal Concepts and Principles of Individuation

Sortal Concepts and Essential Properties II: Sortal Concepts and Principles of Individuation

Chapter:
(p.131) 8 Sortal Concepts and Essential Properties II: Sortal Concepts and Principles of Individuation
Source:
How Things Might Have Been
Author(s):

Penelope Mackie (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199272204.003.0008

This chapter examines David Wiggins’s version of sortal essentialism, which relies on the EPI thesis, that a thing’s principle of individuation is essential to it in order to derive the result that certain sortals (‘ultimate sortals’) are essential sortals. It argues that the attempt to defend sortal essentialism by appeal to EPI faces a dilemma: either the thesis is vacuous, and lends no support to sortal essentialism, or it is a substantial thesis, but one that we have no good reason to accept. It concludes that even if it is true that, for any given individual, there are some sorts or kinds to which it could not have belonged, there is insufficient reason to believe the sortal essentialist’s explanation that this is because there is some sortal kind to which it belongs essentially.

Keywords:   anchor constraint, essential properties, principle of counterfactual existence, principle of distinction and persistence, principle of individuation, sortal concept, sortal essentialism, substance sortal, ultimate sortal, Wiggins

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