No route to origin essentialism?
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In a famous footnote in Naming and Necessity, Kripke offered “something like a proof” of the thesis that material things have their material origins essentially (EMO). Although the sketch of a proof Kripke gave was incomplete in important respects, many philosophers have since endeavoured to develop Kripke’s style of argument so that it reaches its intended conclusion.1 In particular, a number of philosophers have attempted to complete Kripke’s argument sketch by appealing to some sort of “sufficiency principle” – a principle that gives sufficient conditions for the identity of objects across possible worlds. These developments of Kripke’s argument face a number of problems, as pointed out by Mackie (1987, 2002), Robertson (1998, 2000) and others.2 Recently, however, Rohrbaugh and deRosset (2004, 2006) have offered a new route to origin essentialism that develops a Kripke-style argument without appeal to a sufficiency principle. While this argument has also not escaped criticism3, the argument suffers from a crucial flaw which has not been noticed. More interesting, though, is that the problem the argument faces is the same problem facing the arguments that appeal to sufficiency principles, and indeed Kripke’s original “proof” – all these arguments over-generalize. This strongly suggests that there is no Kripkestyle route to origin essentialism.
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