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Additional resources for Creations of the Mind: Theories of Artifacts and Their Representation
Verbally, of course, the answer is obvious: it all depends on whether the object has lost an accidental property or an essential one—a property the object has just contingently, or one it has necessarily. The hard question is what the essentialness of an essential property consists in. In this section I offer a realist answer to this question. I then use the answer to sketch an argument—which the following section will ﬁll in—that artifacts of many kinds possess essential properties which the materials that compose them do not.
Social Ontology 17 about when people can violate or not violate the social contract. But in real life it isn’t like that, in real life it’s a matter of accepting or rejecting, or furthering or ﬁghting against institutional reality. And one way to create institutional reality often is to act as if it already existed. This is how the United States was created. There was no legal way that a group of people could get together in Philadelphia, all of them subjects of the British Crown in a British Crown Colony, and declare themselves to be an independent nation.
If the Kripke–Putnam story were the correct account of reference, when it was discovered that African and Asian elephants are different species the reaction should have been to ﬁnd out which species was present when ‘elephant’, or more accurately ‘ἐλέφας’, was ﬁrst used, and to declare the others imposters. And the news story in 2001 should have been that many animals that were thought to be African elephants in fact were not, because they were a different species than the one that was baptized.