File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2001/bhaskar.0106, message 20

Subject: Re: BHA: real "essences" of "things"
Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2001 18:28:18 +0200

> Hi all,
> Thanks for the responses.  

To your original question. It seem to me that it is only essentialism who can make sense of the importance and role of experiment in the physical sciences. If it isn't the case that we discover essences and that we learn to discriminate between essential and accidental properties in experiments, what do we discover? All physicists know that spatio-temporal relations are accidental to the real properties of things, for instance. If essences are made by stipulation and dependent upon mind and language as some make us believe, how is it that chemists know that some metals are good conductors in virtue of being the kind of metal it is. Madden and Harre have a good illustration of this point about copper, in  "the true history of copper" in their Causal Powers (Oxford, 1975).

> Incidentally, I just read an article, first published in 1954 in The Journal
> of Philosophy, by Irving M. Copi, called "Essence and Accident."  It is a
> very nicely constructed argument to the effect that Locke's "real essences"
> can be squared with Aristotle's "essential substances," and that such
> objects can be known scientifically.  I read it in a collection edited by
> Stephen P. Schwartz, called *Naming, Necessity and Natural Kinds* (Cornell,
> 1977).  If there was ever an article that should be all over Bhaskar's early
> footnotes, this is it.  The guy pretty much sets out Bhaskar's account of
> scientific discovery.  Extremely useful, I thought.

I will check out Copi's article. Thank's for the reference.

A 'must' for all CRs are Brian Ellis new book *Scientific Essentialism* (Cambridge, 2001). I rely heavily on it in my dissertation.

> Your post suggests that you are in Norway.  Is your work in English by any
> chance?

Yes. I can mail it to you, if you wish, when it is finished (September 2001).

Best Regards,

Ronny S. Myhre

> Warmly,
> Ruth

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