Comments on Klima, contemporary "essentialism" vs. aristotelian essentialism


Authors
Michael Kremer
University of Chicago
Abstract
Gyula begins with a contrast between contemporary scare-quotes essentialism and Aristotelian full-blooded essentialism. The former is a semantic thesis couched in the vocabulary of possible-worlds semantics, holding that some terms are rigid designators, while the latter is a metaphysical thesis, couched in a more ancient vocabulary, holding that things have essences. Gyula argues that the more traditional metaphysical framework deserves reconsideration, both because it can help us with problems arising from the contemporary approach, and because it possesses greater expressive power than the contemporary approach. He presents a fragmentary formal semantics for the traditional approach, and argues that this semantics enables us to see how the problems of contemporary essentialism can be avoided while at the same time other properly metaphysical issues, which are unapproachable from within the contemporary model due to its expressive weakness, become available for investigation. The semantics that he presents seems intended to establish the intelligibility of the traditional vocabulary, and so of the thesis of Aristotelian essentialism which is couched in it. Gyula then argues that this thesis is in fact true, using the vocabulary which the semantics has rendered legitimate
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