ADVANTAGES

Uniessentialism is a sort of individual essentialism. Traditionallyphilosophers distinguish between kind and individual essentialisms:the former examines what binds members of a kind together and what doall members of some kind have in common qua members of thatkind. The latter asks: what makes an individual theindividual it is. We can further distinguish two sorts of individualessentialisms: Kripkean identity essentialism and Aristotelianuniessentialism. The former asks: what makes anindividual that individual? The latter, however, asks aslightly different question: what explains the unity of individuals?What explains that an individual entity exists over and above the sumtotal of its constituent parts? (The standard feminist debate overgender nominalism and gender realism has largely been about kindessentialism. Being about individual essentialism, Witt'suniessentialism departs in an important way from the standard debate.)From the two individual essentialisms, Witt endorses the Aristotelianone. On this view, certain functional essences have a unifying role:these essences are responsible for the fact that material partsconstitute a new individual, rather than just a lump of stuff or acollection of particles. Witt's example is of a house: the essentialhouse-functional property (what the entity is for, what its purposeis) unifies the different material parts of a house so that there is ahouse, and not just a collection of house-constituting particles(2011a, 6). Gender (being a woman/a man) functions in a similarfashion and provides “the principle of normative unity”that organizes, unifies and determines the roles of social individuals(Witt 2011a, 73). Due to this, gender is a uniessential property ofsocial individuals.

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