On the Continuity of Reference of the Elements. A Response to Hendry.

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Scerri, Eric
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Robin Hendry has recently argued that although the term ‘element’ has traditionally been used in two different senses, (basic substance and simple substance), there has nonetheless been a continuity of reference. The present article examines this author’s historical and philosophical claims and suggests that he has misdiagnosed the situation in several respects. In particular it is claimed that Hendry’s arguments for the nature of one particular element, oxygen, do not generalize to all elements as he implies. The second main objection is to Hendry’s view that the qua problem can be illuminated by appeal to the intention of scientists