Higher seminar in the Philosophy of Science: Sören Häggqvist

Thursday 30 September 2021 13.15 – 15.00

F3154

Intrinsic Biological Essentialism: Devitt’s New Argument

Title

Intrinsic Biological Essentialism: Devitt’s New Argument

Abstract

Michael Devitt has recently responded to criticism of his doctrine of intrinsic biological essentialism (IBE). I argue that parts of his response expose IBE to a dilemma: putative intrinsic essences may be saved from triviality at the expense of explantoriness; or they may be explanatory but likely trivial. I also argue that his argument for IBE sanctions postulation of intrinsic essences for non-taxonomic categories like “predator”. This threatens an unwanted proliferation of essences which cannot – unlike those of hierarchical taxa – be neatly related.