De Re Essentialism, Species, and Modal Ambiguity

Ross Inman 1
  • 1 University of Notre Dame, 423 Malloy Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
Ross Inman


I offer a concise critique of a recurring line of reasoning advanced by and 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.

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