Chapter

Sortal Concepts and Essential Properties II: Sortal Concepts and Principles of Individuation

Penelope Mackie

in How Things Might Have Been

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780199272204
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191604034 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199272204.003.0008
 Sortal Concepts and Essential Properties II: Sortal Concepts and Principles of Individuation

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This chapter examines David Wiggins’s version of sortal essentialism, which relies on the EPI thesis, that a thing’s principle of individuation is essential to it in order to derive the result that certain sortals (‘ultimate sortals’) are essential sortals. It argues that the attempt to defend sortal essentialism by appeal to EPI faces a dilemma: either the thesis is vacuous, and lends no support to sortal essentialism, or it is a substantial thesis, but one that we have no good reason to accept. It concludes that even if it is true that, for any given individual, there are some sorts or kinds to which it could not have belonged, there is insufficient reason to believe the sortal essentialist’s explanation that this is because there is some sortal kind to which it belongs essentially.

Keywords: anchor constraint; essential properties; principle of counterfactual existence; principle of distinction and persistence; principle of individuation; sortal concept; sortal essentialism; substance sortal; ultimate sortal; Wiggins

Chapter.  7664 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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