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Philosophical Studies

, Volume 166, Issue 1, pp 21–32 | Cite as

Knowledge of essence: the conferralist story

  • Ásta Kristjana Sveinsdóttir
Article

Abstract

Realist essentialists face a prima facie challenge in accounting for our knowledge of the essences of things, and in particular, in justifying our engaging in thought experiments to gain such knowledge. In contrast, conferralist essentialism has an attractive story to tell about how we gain knowledge of the essences of things, and how thought experiments are a justified method for gaining such knowledge. The conferralist story is told in this essay.

Keywords

Conferralism Essentialism Thought experiments Essence Anti-realism 

Notes

Acknowledgement

I would like to thank Louise Antony, Alex Byrne, Jennifer Church, John Divers, Catherine Z. Elgin, Nathaniel Goldberg, Sally Haslanger, Aviv Hoffman, Daniel Nolan, Laurie Paul, Marion Smiley, Robert Stalnaker, Amie Thomasson, Judith Jarvis Thomson, Jessica Wilson, Charlotte Witt, and an anonymous reviewer for this journal for helpful comments on, or conversations related to, an earlier version of this essay. Of course, none of them is responsible for the views herein or any errors that remain.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA

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