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Alcoff, Linda Martin, , . Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self
2006, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Visible Identities critiques the critiques of identity and of identity politics and argues that identities are real but not necessarily a political problem. Moreover, the book explores the material infrastructure of gendered identity, the experimental aspects of racial subjectivity for both whites and non-whites, and in several chapters looks specifically at Latio identity.

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Drewery, Alice, , . Essentialism and the Necessity of the Laws of Nature
2005, Synthese 144(3): 381-396.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper the author discusses and evaluates different arguments for the view that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. She conclude that essentialist arguments from the nature of natural kinds fail to establish that essences are ontologically more basic than laws, and fail to offer an a priori argument for the necessity of all causal laws. Similar considerations carry across to the argument from the dispositionalist view of properties, which may end up placing unreasonable constraints on property identity across possible worlds. None of her arguments preclude the possibility that the laws may turn out to be metaphysically necessary after all, but she argues that this can only be established by a posteriori scientific investigation. She argues for what may seem to be a surprising conclusion: that a fundamental metaphysical question – the modal status of laws of nature – depends on empirical facts rather than purely on a priori reasoning.

Comment: An excellent paper that could serve as further or specialized reading for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science, in particular, for modules related to the study of the laws of nature. The paper offers an in-depth discussion of essentialist arguments, but also touches upon many other fundamental concepts such as grounding, natural kinds, dispositions and necessity.

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Jaggar, Alison, , . Reasoning About Well-Being: Nussbaum’s Methods of Justifying the Capabilities.
2006, Journal of Political Philosophy 14(3): 301-322.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Content: Discusses Nussbaum’s methodology and the question of whether she covertly relies on assumptions about her own moral authority.

Comment: Most useful as further reading on political liberalism or the capability approach.

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Leslie, Sarah-Jane, , . Carving up the Social World with Generics
2014, in: T. Lombrozo, J. Knobe, and S. Nichols (eds.) Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy Volume 1, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Summary (Diversifying Syllabi): Leslie argues that generic language has an effect on social cognition. Specifically, generic language plays a role in the way small children develop concepts related to abilities, which facilitates the transmission and development of social prejudices.

Comment: This text can support classes on social cognition, the social nature of language, and essentialism (including social and psychological essentialism). It will also serve well as an introduction to generics in philosophy of language. In philosophy of gender and race classes it can offers a good illustration of how stereotypes are created.

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Sullivan, Meghan, , . Are There Essential Properties? No.
2016, in Elizabeth Barnes (ed.) Current Controversies in Metaphysics (Routledge)): 45-61.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: This paper describes motivations for the view that some objects have essential properties: properties which they must have in any world/situation where they exist (without qualification). I raise objections to the motivations for so-called “hardcore essentialism”. And I articulate and defend an alternative theory: explanation-relative essentialism.

Comment: Very useful for an intermediate Metaphysics course. Could be good to include this reading after teaching about modality, as a way to apply possible worlds talk to a new topic: are there certain properties that objects/entities must have in every possible world, in order to be that very object/entity? It could also be useful to teach de re/de dicto necessity first.

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