Thomas Kuhn's misunderstood relation to Kripke-Putnam essentialism

Abstract
Kuhn's ‘taxonomic conception’ of natural kinds enables him to defend and re-specify the notion of incommensurability against the idea that it is reference, not meaning/use, that is overwhelmingly important. Kuhn's ghost still lacks any reason to believe that referentialist essentialism undercuts his central arguments in SSR – and indeed, any reason to believe that such essentialism is even coherent, considered as a doctrine about anything remotely resembling our actual science. The actual relation of Kuhn to Kripke-Putnam essentialism, is as follows: Kuhn decisively undermines it – drawing upon the inadequacies of such essentialism when faced with the failure of attempts to instantiate in history or contemporaneously its ‘thought-experiment’ – and leaves the field open instead for his own more ‘realistic’, deflationary way of thinking about the operation of ‘natural kinds’ in science.
Keywords chemistry  essentialism  Kripke  Kuhn  natural kinds  Putnam  reference  twin-earth  water
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DOI 10.1023/A:1020755503087
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