For many years essentialism - the view that some objects have essentially or necessarily certain properties without which they could not exist or be the things they are - was considered to be beyond the pale in philosophy, a relic of discredited Aristotelianism. This is no longer so. Kripke and Putnam have made belief in essential natures once more respectable. Harre and Madden have boldly argued against Hume's theory of causation, and developed an alternative theory based on the assumption that there are genuine causal powers in nature. Dretske, Tooley, Armstrong, Swoyer and Carroll have all developed strong alternatives to Hume's theory of the laws of nature. Shoemaker has developed a thoroughly non-Humean theory of properties. The "new essentialism" has evolved from these beginnings and can now reasonably claim to be a metaphysic for a modern scientific understanding of the world - one that challenges the conception of the world as comprising passive entities whose interactions are to be explained by appeal to contingent laws of nature externally imposed. In this volume Brian Ellis, who is seeking to develop the new essentialism, presents a general summation of the theory.
It is designed to introduce students and generalists to an emerging metaphysical perspective that provides a comprehensive new philosophy of nature.
Brian Ellis is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at La Trobe University and Professorial Fellow in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Melbourne.
Introduction 1. Essentialist philosophies of nature 2. Empiricist and realist perspectives on the world 3. Properties and relations 4. Powers and dispositions 5. Laws of nature 6. Natural necessity 7. Philosophical implications 8. Wider implications Appendix Bibliography Index
"Ellis's challenge to the dominant world view of contemporary metaphysics represents a welcome addition to a literature that usually simply takes the world view for granted." - Mind "An engaging, non-technical introduction to fundamental issues in metaphysics and the philosophy of science. Ellis has done us all a favour in rendering accessible topics that have a direct bearing on the way we see ourselves and our relation to the cosmos." - John Heil, Davidson College, North Carolina
Acumen Publishing Ltd
A Guide to the New Essentialism
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Taylor & Francis Ltd