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Dupré's Anti-Essentialist Objection to Reductionism

D. Gene Witmer
The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-)
Vol. 53, No. 211 (Apr., 2003), pp. 181-200
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3542863
Page Count: 20
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Dupré's Anti-Essentialist Objection to Reductionism
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Abstract

In his 'The Disorder of Things' John Dupré presents an objection to reductionism which I call the 'anti-essentialist objection': it is that reductionism requires essentialism, and essentialism is false. I unpack the objection and assess its cogency. Once the objection is clearly in view, it is likely to appeal to those who think conceptual analysis a bankrupt project. I offer on behalf of the reductionist two strategies for responding, one which seeks to rehabilitate conceptual analysis and one (more concessive) which avoids commitment to any such analysis.

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