By R. S. Peters (eds.)
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Additional resources for Nature and Conduct
Anyone who uses such a term to identify an individual thing must be able to fix or further determine the reference he is making with some descriptions of the individual in question. But, it is admitted, these associated descriptions are not logically tied to the terms whose use they support. A referring term can be used in communication between people whose sets of associated descriptions are different and perhaps even have no element in common. There is, however, a problem about the determinacy of identitystatements which might serve to reinstate individual essence to some extent, by way of implying at least a minimal connotation for apparently non-connotative terms.
Individual essence thus conceived will not of course include all the properties of an individual that has it since such individuals will, in general, have further, accidental properties. Furthermore it will not in general be sufficient to individuate the individual in question, to pick it out from other things of the same essential kind as the unique individual that it is. I shall conclude by considering the defensibility of the notion of essence as applied to concrete individuals, which has been argued for as required for the identification of individual things and by asking whether, if it is defensible, it has any implications for ethics as far as men are concerned.
He may be thought of as holding, with Locke and Geach, that 'brutes abstract not'. There is no need to pursue this demarcation-dispute for the purpose in hand. For there are, fairly obviously, some powers of thought or kinds of rationality that men possess which non-human animals do not. A currently favoured way of marking them out is as those mental operations involved in the understanding of a language. This manreuvre makes the material in question more palpable, perhaps, but not all that more perspicuous.
Nature and Conduct by R. S. Peters (eds.)