A Note on the Nature of 'Water'
Abbott (Barbara)
Source: Mind, 106, No. 422 (Apr., 1997), pp. 311-319
Paper - Abstract

Paper Summary


Philosophers Index Abstract

    Noting that tea and Sprite are not called "water" despite being thought to have roughly the same proportion of H2O as tap water, Chomsky (1995) challenges essentialist/externalist semantics for "water." I reply to this challenge. The fact that tea is mostly water in virtue of being mostly H2O argues that "water" and "H2O" denote the same thing. Artifactual substances consisting largely or entirely of water but possessing other properties are called by different names for Gricean reasons. Ordinary vagueness accounts for the application of "water" to substances with impurities.

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