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Metaphysica

International Journal for Ontology and Metaphysics

Ed. by Hüntelmann, Rafael / Meixner, Uwe / Tegtmeier, Erwin

Together with Cumpa, Javier

Editorial Board Member: Addis, Laird / Davies, Brian / Hochberg, Herbert / Johansson, Ingvar / Kanzian, Christian / Klima, Gyula / Koons, Robert C / Künne, Wolfgang / Löffler, Winfried / Mulligan, Kevin / Nef, Frederic / Oaklander, Nathan / Oderberg, David / Orilia, Francesco / Plantinga, Alvin / Potrc, Matjaz / Rapp, Christof / Reicher-Marek, Maria Elisabeth / Schantz, Richard / Scholz, Oliver / Seibt, Johanna / Simons, Peter / Smith, Barry / Stoecker, Ralf / Strobach, Niko / Trettin, Käthe / Wachter, Daniel

2 Issues per year


CiteScore 2016: 0.12

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.111
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.530

Online
ISSN
1874-6373
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De Re Essentialism, Species, and Modal Ambiguity

Ross Inman
Published Online: 2014-03-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mp-2014-0003

Abstract

I offer a concise critique of a recurring line of reasoning advanced by Joseph LaPorte and Samir Okasha that all modern species concepts render the view that biological organisms essentially belong to their species empirically untenable. The argument, I claim, trades on a crucial modal ambiguity that collapses the de re/de dicto distinction. Contra their claim that the continued adherence of such a view on behalf of contemporary metaphysicians stems from the latter’s ignorance of developments in modern biology, the modal ambiguity reveals the need to retrain in modal metaphysics.

Keywords: de re essentialism; modality; biological essentialism; species

References

  • LaPorte, J. 1997. “Essential Membership.” Philosophy of Science 64:96–112.Google Scholar

  • LaPorte, J. 2009. Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Okasha, S. 2002. “Darwinian Metaphysics: Species and the Question of Essentialism.” Synthese 131:191–213.Google Scholar

  • Plantinga, A. 1974. The Nature of Necessity. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar

  • Wiggins, D. 1980. Sameness and Substance. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2014-03-13

Published in Print: 2014-04-01


See LaPorte (1997) for the source of this objection to de re biological essentialism, which is then restated and endorsed by Okasha (2002), and defended once more by LaPorte (2009).

It is important to note the distinction between what I am calling “de re biological essentialism” – essentialism about individual biological organisms – and essentialism about biological kinds. As stated, the topic of this note is the former.

LaPorte (2009, 57) and Okasha (2002, 205–06).

See Plantinga (1974, 18–26).


Citation Information: Metaphysica, ISSN (Online) 1874-6373, ISSN (Print) 1437-2053, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mp-2014-0003.

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©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin / Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

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