Substance and Modality

Philosophy of Science 73 (5):829-840 (2006)
The Aristotelian distinction between actual and potential presence of a substance in a mixture forms part of a conception of mixture which stands in contrast to atomist and Stoic theories as propounded by the ancients. But the central ideas on which these theories are built need not be combined and opposed to one another in precisely the ways envisaged by these ancient theories. This is well illustrated by Duhem, who maintained the Aristotelian idea that the original ingredients are only potentially, and not actually, present in a mixture, but who sided with the Stoics and against Aristotle on the possibility of co-occupancy. I have argued that the Stoic theory cannot dispense with some such notion as the Aristotelian conception of potentiality in allowing the elements to be actually present in a mixture. Here I suggest that some such Aristotelian notion must be at work in a more modern atomic conception of matter if this is to allow elemental substances to be actually present in compounds, which I think is how compounds are usually understood. Analogous issues arise regarding the status of solutions and their components.
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    Joseph E. Earley (2005). Why There is No Salt in the Sea. Foundations of Chemistry 7 (1):85-102.
    Paul Needham (2002). The Discovery That Water is H2O. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16 (3):205 – 226.
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