Croatian Journal of Philosophy 9 (2):201-217 (2009)

Maja Malec
University of Ljubljana
I critically discuss the contextualist approach to essentialism, which was developed as an explanation of the seeming inconstancy of our essentialist intuitions. The problem is supposed to be that we vacillate a great deal in judging what properties an object has essentially from one occasion to another, which obviously undermines the reliability of our essentialist intuitions. Contextualists solve the problem by combining the metaphysical view that objects have essential properties with the semantic thesis that the term “essentially” is a context sensitive expression. Once we are aware of the context shifting, the conflict of intuitions turns out to be onlyapparent. My aim is to show that contextualism is not the answer that a proponent of essentialism should adopt. First, I outline the contextualist strategy and argue by help of an example that our linguistic practice does not seem to support the contextualist claim that “essentially” is a context-sensitive term. Secondly, the contextualist strategy deals only with the vacillation of intuitions in one person, but offers a very unfavorable explanation of the conflict of intuitions among different persons. Thus, contextualists face the challenge of proving the reliability of essentialist intuitions nevertheless. I conclude with David Lewis’s proposal in order to illustrate that the contextualist approach only provides the appearance, but not the real essentialism.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 1333-1108
DOI croatjphil20099223
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,231
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Subjective Probabilities Need Not Be Sharp.Jake Chandler - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (6):1273-1286.
Rights.James G. S. Wilson (ed.) - 2007 - John Wiley and Sons.
Strict Implication, Supervenience, and Physicalism.Robert Kirk - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (2):244-57.
Materialism and Supervenience.Anthony I. Jack - 1994 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72 (4):426-43.
The Analogy Argument for a Limited Acccount of Omniscience.Jonathan L. Kvanvig - 1989 - International Philosophical Quarterly 29 (2):129-138.
Hume and The Self: A Critical Response.Alan Schwerin - 2007 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 5 (1):15-30.
Varieties of Supervenience.Brian P. McLaughlin - 1995 - In Elias E. Savellos & U. Yalcin (eds.), Supervenience: New Essays. Cambridge University Press. pp. 16--59.
Varieties of Supervenience.Robert Stalnaker - 1996 - Philosophical Perspectives 10:221-42.


Added to PP index

Total views
6 ( #1,137,139 of 2,518,244 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #408,577 of 2,518,244 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes