Ethics 131 (3):460-488 (2021)

Katherine Ritchie
University of California, Irvine
Some language encourages essentialist thinking. While philosophers have largely focused on generics and essentialism, I argue that nouns as a category are poised to refer to kinds and to promote representational essentializing. Our psychological propensity to essentialize when nouns are used reveals a limitation for anti-essentialist ameliorative projects. Even ameliorated nouns can continue to underpin essentialist thinking. I conclude by arguing that representational essentialism does not doom anti-essentialist ameliorative projects. Rather it reveals that would-be ameliorators ought to attend to the propensities for our representational devices to essentialize and to the complex relationship between essentialism and prejudice.
Keywords essentialism  anti-essentialism  nouns  generics  conceptual engineering  ameliorative projects
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/712576
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Anti-Anti-Essentialism About Art.Daniel Patrick Wilson - 2015 - American Society for Aesthetics Graduate E-Journal 7 (2).
The ‘Should’ in Conceptual Engineering.Mona Simion - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (8):914-928.
The Essence of Essentialism?Nick Haslam - 2014 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (5):491-492.
Dupre's Anti-Essentialist Objection to Reductionism.D. Gene Witmer - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (211):181-200.
Essentialism, Vitalism, and the GMO Debate.Veronika Szántó - 2018 - Philosophy and Technology 31 (2):189-208.
Evolutionary Essentialism.Denis Walsh - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (2):425-448.
Cultural Transmission of Social Essentialism.Marjorie Rhodes, Sarah-Jane Leslie & Christina Tworek - 2012 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109 (34):13526-13531.
Metalinguistic Proposals.Nat Hansen - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (1-2):1-19.
Devitt’s Promiscuous Essentialism.Zdenka Brzović - 2018 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 18 (2):293-306.
Antirealist Essentialism.Jonathan Livingstone-Banks - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Leeds


Added to PP index

Total views
283 ( #37,049 of 2,498,535 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
50 ( #16,695 of 2,498,535 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes