Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Microessentialism: What is the Argument?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy.
2011 (English)In: Noûs, ISSN 0029-4624, E-ISSN 1468-0068, Vol. 45, no 1, 1-21 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

According to microessentialism, it is necessary to resort to microstructure in order to adequately characterise chemical substances such as water. But the thesis has never been properly supported by argument. Kripke and Putnam, who originally proposed the thesis, suggest that a so-called stereotypical characterisation is not possible, whereas one in terms of microstructure is. However, the sketchy outlines given of stereotypical descriptions hardly support the impossibility claim. On the other hand, what naturally stands in contrast to microscopic description is description in macroscopic terms, and macroscopic characterisations of water are certainly possible. This suffices to counter the claim that microdescriptions are necessary. Whether it counters the impossibility claim depends on whether all macroscopic descriptions are stereotypical (stereotypical descriptions presumably being macroscopic). In so far as systematic import of “stereotypical” can be determined, it would seem not. But some macroscopic characterisations have definite affinity with everyday knowledge, which presumably stands in conflict with the spirit of the impossibility claim. Since what is characterised are properties expressed by predicates like “is water”, the necessity of identity has no bearing here, and matters of interpretation pose problems for claims to the effect that science fixes the extension of “water” as ordinarily understood.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 45, no 1, 1-21 p.
Keyword [en]
Kripke, Putnam, micrsessentialism, natural kinds, water
National Category
Research subject
Theoretical Philosophy
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-39489DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0068.2010.00756.xISI: 000287526900001OAI: diva2:320535
Available from: 2010-05-25 Created: 2010-05-25 Last updated: 2012-01-19Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Needham, Paul
By organisation
Department of Philosophy
In the same journal

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 60 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link