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Episteme

Abstract

The author endeavors to extend the Kripke/Putnam theory of reference in order to improve Eric Katz’s argument in “Organism, Community, and the ‘Substitution Problem.” Katz criticizes the organism model for species and supports the community model, which supposedly strikes a balance with a species’ intrinsic value and functional purpose within a natural ecosystem. But since it can be shown that the so-called organism model includes intrinsic value, too, the substitution problem (which had plagued it for Katz) is unfounded. Because Katz’s real goal is to differentiate between the intrinsic and instrumental value of a given species, Kripke’s theory of natural kinds coupled with Putnam’s counterfactual reasoning can help make Katz’s ethics into a stronger argument. Even still, Kripke’s thought urges us to recognize that human science improves and our understanding of a species is never a fixed one. Thus, theory alone cannot definitively conclude how best to treat a given species.

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