Aristotelian Essentialism: Essence in the Age of Evolution

Synthese 194 (7):2539-2556 (2017)

Authors
Christopher J. Austin
Oxford University
Abstract
The advent of contemporary evolutionary theory ushered in the eventual decline of Aristotelian Essentialism (Æ) – for it is widely assumed that essence does not, and cannot have any proper place in the age of evolution. This paper argues that this assumption is a mistake: if Æ can be suitably evolved, it need not face extinction. In it, I claim that if that theory’s fundamental ontology consists of dispositional properties, and if its characteristic metaphysical machinery is interpreted within the framework of contemporary evolutionary developmental biology, an evolved essentialism is available. The reformulated theory of Æ offered in this paper not only fails to fall prey to the typical collection of criticisms, but is also independently both theoretically and empirically plausible. The paper contends that, properly understood, essence belongs in the age of evolution.
Keywords essentialism  philosophy of biology  philosophy of science  evo-devo  developmental biology  natural kinds  dispositions
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2016, 2017
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1066-4
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Causation as Influence.David K. Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.
Making Things Happen. A Theory of Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):233-249.

View all 52 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Where Do You Get Your Protein? Or: Biochemical Realization.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Structural Powers and the Homeodynamic Unity of Organisms.Christopher J. Austin & Anna Marmodoro - 2017 - In William M. R. Simpson, Robert C. Koons & Nicholas J. Teh (eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science. Routledge. pp. 169-184.
A Biologically Informed Hylomorphism.Christopher J. Austin - 2017 - In William M. R. Simpson, Robert C. Koons & Nicholas J. Teh (eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science. Routledge. pp. 185-210.
Individual Essentialism in Biology.Michael Devitt - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (5-6):39.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

New Essentialism in Biology.Olivier Rieppel - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (5):662-673.
Evolutionary Essentialism.Denis Walsh - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (2):425-448.
What is a Species? Essences and Generation.John S. Wilkins - 2010 - Theory in Biosciences 129:141-148.
Natural Kinds: (Thick) Essentialism or Promiscuous Realism?Nigel Leary - 2007 - Philosophical Writings 34 (1):5 - 13.
Putnam's Traditional Neo-Essentialism.Neil E. Williams - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (242):151 - 170.
Essences and Natural Kinds.Alexander Bird - 2009 - In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge. pp. 497--506.
How Essentialists Misunderstand Locke.Nigel Leary - 2009 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 26 (3):273-292.
Natural Kinds and the Problem of Complex Essences.Travis Dumsday - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (4):619-634.
Natural Kinds and Freaks of Nature.Evan Fales - 1982 - Philosophy of Science 49 (1):67-90.
Origin Essentialism in Biology.Makmiller Pedroso - 2014 - Philosophical Quarterly 64 (254):60-81.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2016-03-09

Total views
469 ( #9,430 of 2,260,782 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
77 ( #7,489 of 2,260,782 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature