Philosophical Quarterly 56 (222):1–15 (2006)

Historically, opponents of realism have argued that the world’s objects are constructed by our cognitive activities—or, less colorfully, that they exist and are as they are only relative to our ways of thinking and speaking. To this realists have stoutly replied that even if we had thought or spoken in ways different from our actual ones, the world would still have been populated by the same objects as it actually is, or at least by most of them. (Our thinking differently could cause some differences in which objects exist, or in what some existing objects are like, but that is another matter.) Yet this reply has repeatedly failed to amount to a decisive objection. For opponents of realism have repeatedly argued, in one way or another, that we construct the world’s objects in just such a way as to render such a counterfactual true. We construct them so as to appear not to be our constructs. Just such a debate is currently underway concerning the properties that are essential to the world’s objects. It is widely agreed, with varying caveats1, that there are such properties—that by virtue of belonging to one or another natural kind, the world’s objects possess certain properties essentially, and have individual careers that last exactly as long as those essential properties are jointly present. But what underlies the status as essential of the properties that are thus essential to objects in the world? The realist answer treats essential status as mind-independent, and assigns it to the way the world works (Elder..
Keywords Realism   Counterfactuals
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9213.2005.00425.x
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: 71,464
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Realism and Reason.Hilary Putnam - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.
Why There Isn't a Ready-Made World.Hilary Putnam - 1982 - Synthese 51 (2):205--228.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Biological Species Are Natural Kinds.Crawford L. Elder - 2008 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 46 (3):339-362.
Conventionalism and the World as Bare Sense-Data.Crawford L. Elder - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):261 – 275.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Ontic Structural Realism as a Metaphysics of Objects.Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam - 2011 - In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 143-159.
In Defense of Essentialism.L. A. Paul - 2006 - Philosophical Perspectives 20 (1):333–372.
Ontology and Realism About Modality.Crawford L. Elder - 1999 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (3):292 – 302.
"Realism and the Problem of" Infimae Species".Crawford Elder - 2007 - American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (2):111 - 127.
Tropes and Other Things.Cynthia Macdonald - 1998 - In Stephen Laurence & Cynthia Macdonald (eds.), Contemporary Readings in the Foundations of Metaphysics. Blackwell.
Essence and Modality.Edward N. Zalta - 2006 - Mind 115 (459):659-693.


Added to PP index

Total views
56 ( #205,011 of 2,520,752 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #270,509 of 2,520,752 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes