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    Hendry, Robin Findlay 2016. Immanent philosophy of X. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, Vol. 55, p. 36.


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Dwatery ocean

  • Michela Massimi (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S003181911200037X
  • Published online: 01 October 2012
Abstract
Abstract

In this paper I raise a difficulty for Joseph LaPorte's account of chemical kind terms. LaPorte has argued against Putnam that H2O content is neither necessary nor sufficient to fix the reference of the kind term ‘water’ and that we did not discover that water is H2O. To this purpose, he revisits Putnam's Twin Earth story with the fictional scenario of Deuterium Earth, whose ocean consists of ‘dwater’, to conclude that we did not discover that deuterium oxide is (a kind of) water (usually called ‘heavy water’). Instead, according to LaPorte, by including deuterium oxide in the extension of the term ‘water’, we simply refined our vague use of the term ‘water’. But we could have decided to exclude deuterium oxide from the extension of the term ‘water’. Let us call this the thesis of semantic stipulation.

I raise two problems for LaPorte's Deuterium Earth story. First, I show that ‘dwater’ (i.e. deuterium oxide not as a kind of water) does not have the same scientific credibility of ‘heavy water’ (i.e. deuterium oxide as a kind of water). Second, I argue that for the thesis of semantic stipulation to go through one would need to show that ‘dwater’ is semantically on a par with ‘heavy water’. Namely, one would need to show that ‘dwater’ is a projectible kind term, capable of supporting inductive inferences. But, in fact, it is not, because the term is vulnerable to an unwelcome Goodmanian scenario, unless one surreptitiously reintroduces some Putnamian assumptions about D2O content being necessary and sufficient to fix the reference of the term.

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Corresponding author
michela.massimi@ed.ac.uk
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B. AbbottA Note on the Nature of “Water”’, Mind 106 (1997), 311–9

J. LaPorte, ‘Living water’, Mind 107 (1998), 451–5

A. Bird, ‘A posteriori knowledge of natural kind essences: a defence’, Philosophical Topics 35 (2007), 293312

H. C. Urey , F. G. Brickwedde , G. M. Murphy A Hydrogen Isotope of Mass 2’, Physical Review 39 (1932), 164165

Howard Rae, Separation of hydrogen isotopes (Washington, DC: American Chemical Society, 1978), 3

F. Franks, Water: a matrix of life (Cambridge: The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2000), 19

NeedhamWhat is water?’, Analysis 60 (2000), 1321

NeedhamThe discovery that water is H2O’, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16 (2002), 205226)

R. HendryEntropy and chemical substance’, Philosophy of Science 77 (2010), 921932)

I. Hacking, ‘The contingencies of ambiguity’, Analysis 67 (2007), 269–77

Robin Hendry (‘Elements, compounds and other chemical kinds’, Philosophy of Science 73 (2006), 864875

H. CraigStandard for reporting concentrations of deuterium and oxygen-18 in natural waters’, Science vol. 133, No. 3467 (1961), 1833

Laws of nature’, Philosophy of science 44 (1977), 248–68

R. BoydRealism, anti-foundationalism, and the enthusiasm for natural kinds’, Philosophical Studies 61 (1991), 127–48

R. IsraelTwo interpretations of grue – or how to misunderstand the new riddle of induction’, Analysis 64 (2004), 335–9

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Philosophy
  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
  • URL: /core/journals/philosophy
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