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The Philosophy of Nature: A Guide to the New Essentialismby Brian Ellis
Synopses & Reviews
For many years essentialism was considered beyond the pale in philosophy, a relic of discredited Aristotelianism. This is no longer so. Kripke and Putnam have made belief in essential natures respectable once more. Harré and Madden have argued against Hume's theory of causation and developed an alternative theory based on the assumption that there are genuine causal powers in nature. Dretske, Tooley, Armstrong, Swoyer, and Carroll have all developed strong alternatives to Hume's theory of the laws of nature. And Shoemaker has developed a thoroughly non-Humean theory of properties. The "new essentialism" has evolved from these beginnings and can now reasonably claim to be a metaphysic for a modern scientific understanding of the world - one that challenges the conception of the world as comprising passive entities whose interactions are to be explained by appeal to contingent laws of nature externally imposed.
Book News Annotation:
The basic thesis of essentialism is that the laws are nature are imminent in existing things, rather than imposed from without. Largely discarded since the days of Aristotle, essentialism has lately been making inroads as a metaphysics of science. Ellis (history and philosophy of science, U. of Melbourne, Australia) summarizes the positions of his brand of the philosophy in a manner that is less rigorously scholastic than his earlier effort Scientific Essentialism (Cambridge U. Press, 2001) and more tailored for a lay audience.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In this general summation of the theory Brian Ellis, at the forefront of developing the new essentialism, introduces students and generalists to an emerging metaphysical perspective that provides a comprehensive new philosophy of nature.
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