Sortal Concepts and Essential Properties
Mackie (Penelope)
Source: Philosophical Quarterly 44.176, July 1994, pp. 311-333
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

  1. The paper discusses 'sortal1 essentialism': the view that some sortal2 concepts represent essential properties of the things that fall under them.
  2. Although sortal3 essentialism is widely accepted, there is a dearth of theories purporting to explain why some sortals4 should have this characteristic.
  3. The paper examines two theories that do attempt this explanatory task, theories proposed by Baruch Brody and David Wiggins.
  4. It is argued that Brody's theory rests on an untenable principle about "de re" modality5, while Wiggins' theory appeals to a thesis about principles of individuation6 that is either unjustified, or vacuous and incapable of supporting sortal7 essentialism.

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