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A Problem for natural-kind essentialism and formal causes

Alvarado, José Tomás and Tugby, Matthew (2021) 'A Problem for natural-kind essentialism and formal causes.', in Neo-Aristotelian perspectives on formal causation. Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge, pp. 201-221. Routledge Studies in Metaphysics.


A combination of formal causation and natural-kind essentialism has good prospects. After all, natural-kind essentialists are under pressure to accept that natural kinds ground or formally cause the properties that characterize them. However, natural-kind essentialists are committed to the claim that natural kinds essentially depend on the properties that characterize them, such as the property of unit negative charge in the case of the electron kind. We argue that, given plausible assumptions about grounding and dependence, these claims clash. After presenting the problem, we consider and criticize ways in which natural-kind essentialists could try to avoid it.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 08 September 2022.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Formal Causation on 8th March 2021, available online:
Date accepted:15 December 2020
Date deposited:08 January 2021
Date of first online publication:08 March 2021
Date first made open access:08 September 2022

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