Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

4-15-2013

Graduate Advisor

Jon McGinnis

Committee

Jon D. McGinnis, Ph.D.

Andrew G. Black, Ph.D.

Berit O. Brogaard, Ph.D.

Abstract

In this paper I argue that Aristotelian essentialism is compatible with species evolution. My argument has two premises: (1) Aristotelian essentialism can describe what is going on with species evolution; (2) If Aristotelian essentialism can describe what is going on with species evolution, Aristotelian essentialism is compatible with species evolution. To support my first premise, I suspend “property essentialism” and develop a teleological conception of Aristotelian essentialism in terms of matter and form as potentiality and actuality. I propose and explicate my “multiple-potentiality strategy” that matter has multiple potentialities. I apply this strategy to describe what is going on with species evolution. I draw a distinction between proximate potentiality and remote potentiality. To support my second premise, I refute the argument from non-actuality, the argument from randomness and the argument from functional reducibility. I also show the inadequacy of the argument from goal-directedness, the argument from wellbeing and the argument from discernibility, all of which seem to count in favor of Aristotelian essentialism. I argue that my multiple-potentiality strategy can enhance these arguments.

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