Locke vs. Boyle: The real essence of corpuscular species

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 15 (4):659 – 684 (2007)
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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.



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Citations of this work

Lockean superaddition and Lockean humility.Patrick J. Connolly - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 51:53-61.
Locke on Real Essence.Jan-Erik Jones - 2012 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Essence, Experiment, and Underdetermination in the Spinoza-Boyle Correspondence.Stephen Harrop - 2022 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 12 (2):447-484.
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References found in this work

Problems from Locke.J. L. Mackie - 1976 - Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon Press.
Selected Philosophical Papers of Robert Boyle.Robert Boyle (ed.) - 1979 - Manchester University Press.

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