Volume 13, Issue 3, Septiembre 1998
Kripke’s opponents claim that gold, in all possible worlds, is a yellow metal. They believe that the atomic number can vary from world to world. Kripke inverts this, holding that while gold is, in all possible worlds, the element with atomic number 79, its surface properties may vary widely from world to world. Both views are flawed, but of the two, the rival is to be preferred. There is a better view. Gold is, in all possible worlds, the element with atomic number 79. And (given certain specifiable conditions) it is, in all possible worlds, a yellow meta!. Only insofar as they give rise to familiar and important surface properties is there reason to maintain that structural properties are at the essence or nature of things.