Locke vs. Boyle: The real essence of corpuscular species

While the tradition of Locke scholarship holds that both Locke and Boyle are species anti-realists, there is evidence that this interpretation is false. Specifically, there has been some recent work on Boyle showing that he is, unlike Locke, a species realist. In this paper I argue that once we see Boyle as a realist about natural species, it is plausible to read some of Locke’s most formidable anti-realist arguments as directed specifically at Boyle’s account of natural species. This is a break from the tradition because no one in the literature has yet suggested that some of Locke’s arguments in Book III of the Essay include a criticism of Boyle’s doctrine of species. Moreover, identifying Boyle as Locke’s intended target illuminates some of the more vexing passages in the Essay concerning real essences.
Keywords Locke  Boyle  Realism  Natural Kinds  Species
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