RE: Epistemology

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Wed Aug 29 2001 - 22:07:35 MDT

Jerry quoted

>>> Many philosophers hold that the essence of water is
>>> its real essence; the essence of water is H2O. So
>>> the stuff in my glass has an essential property, a
>>> property without which it would not be the stuff that
>>> it is; if the stuff in my glass did not have the
>>> property of being H2O, then it would not be water.

>> That example doesn't seem to work! I can just imagine you going
>> off to planet Y in a very distant galaxy, crashlanding, swimming
>> across a large river, drinking the water, using it to water your
>> plants, and then having the first officer come yelling to you,
>> "Chief! This stuff isn't H20!". You'd then probably conclude
>> that not all water in the universe has the same chemical
>> composition.

> I dont follow this, what do you mean the officer runs over and says its not
> H2O? If its a compound similar to water and acts in the same way, it still
> is what it is. What else could it be? If its compound X, then its molecular
> structure might be different. My use of it doesnt change its identity or the
> water's.

It had been stated that an essential property of water
is that its chemical composition is H2O. But I think
that it is possible that in some places water may not
have that property. (People on the planet that I spoke
of would *not* bother to coin a new term if the new stuff
looked and acted like H2O for all daily life purposes.)

Hence, "having chemical composition H2O" is not an essential
property of water.


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