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The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 6, 2007

Epistemology

Wen-Fang Wang
Pages 111-117

Putnam's Way to Essentialism

In several articles, Putnam claims that the direct reference theory (DRT) he endorses has startling consequence for the theory of necessary truth and essentialism, for if DRT is correct, so he claims, it follows that things belonging to natural kinds have their deep structures necessarily. Inspired by Donnellan, Nathan Salmon tries to spell out what Putnam seems to have in mind when making the claim, and Salmon calls the result "the OK mechanism". Salmon shows, in the OK mechanism, it is not DRT, but some other essentialism-entailing premise, that has the claimed startling consequence. In this paper, I argue that Salmon's OK is not the right interpretation of Putnam's intended mechanism. Instead, I present Putnam's intention as the OK* mechanism, and show that, in OK*, DRT does have the startling consequence for the theory of necessary truth and essentialism when supplemented only with other metaphysically innocent, purely empirically verifiable premises.

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