How to Win Essence Back from Essentialists
Oderberg (David)
Source: Philosophical Writings (No. 18, Autumn 2001): 27-45
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

    I contrast contemporary essentialism of this kind with a metaphysically more robust, neo-Aristotelian or "real" essentialism which attributes real essences to kinds of object. After rejecting some common Quinean skeptical arguments against the very idea of de re necessity, I outline and briefly defend three central tenets of real essentialism derived from the relation between: essence and identity; essence and existence; essence and property. I end by locating real essentialism within a broader programme called philosophical traditionalism. (edited) For all the attention given to the revival of essentialism based on the work of Plantinga, Kripke, Putnam and others, what we have really seen is the coming to prominence of an ontologically thin, unsystematic set of ideas with little theoretical cohesion or metaphysical underpinning, motivated primarily by considerations in modal logic1 and philosophy of language. I contrast contemporary essentialism of this kind with a metaphysically more robust, neo-Aristotelian or 'real' essentialism which attributes real essences to kinds of object. After rejecting some common Quinean sceptical arguments against the very idea of de re necessity, I outline and briefly defend three central tenets of real essentialism derived from the relation between: essence and identity; essence and existence; essence and property. I end by locating real essentialism within a broader programme called philosophical traditionalism.

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