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"Is"I agree with Dave's answer, "is" and "has" seems to run parallel to the distinction between essential and accidental properties. Only essential properties are required for an object to stay what it is, the rest can be altered. Human is what is the essence of being human, but only has what is accidental. It is essential for water to be H20, but it is accidental for it to have industrial uses. Nixon is essentially a son of his parents, but only accidentally a president. Here isThis was formalized in modal logic by Kripke:"Let's call something a rigid designator if in every possible world it designates the same object, a non-rigid or accidental designator if that is not the case... When we think of a property as essential to an object we usually mean that it is true of that object in any case where it would have existed". Of course, one has to adjust what counts as essential to one's purposes. Only essential properties are required for an object to stay what it is, the rest can be altered. Human "is" what is in the essence of being human, but only "has" what is accidental. It is essential for water to be H20, but it is accidental for it to have industrial uses. Nixon is essentially a son of his parents, but only accidentally a president.

In fact, OP comments:"Say we have the list of qualities of things that make us human. Are we still human if, say, we do not possess an eye? That says yes... Possessing an eye and an ear does not make me less human. Alas, when we program things in, we create constructs that probably assume certain things" mirror Kripke's criticism of the theory of descriptions as meanings. Russell originally proposed that meaning can be identified with a description, "a list of things", and one then picks out references according to it. One of Kripke's objections was:"Suppose a writer in a classics journal claimed to have evidence that the hemlock plant... was extinct in Attica by the fifth century, and that the philosopher reputed to have drunk hemlock actually drank some other vegetable poison. Would it not be natural to conclude that Socrates did not, after all, drink hemlock? But if Socrates is by definition the philosopher who drank hemlock, this conclusion cannot be true regardless of the evidence."

"Is" and "has" seems to run parallel to the distinction between essential and accidental properties. Only essential properties are required for an object to stay what it is, the rest can be altered. Human is what is the essence of being human, but only has what is accidental. It is essential for water to be H20, but it is accidental for it to have industrial uses. Nixon is essentially a son of his parents, but only accidentally a president. Here is Kripke:"Let's call something a rigid designator if in every possible world it designates the same object, a non-rigid or accidental designator if that is not the case... When we think of a property as essential to an object we usually mean that it is true of that object in any case where it would have existed". Of course, one has to adjust what counts as essential to one's purposes.

In fact, OP comments:"Say we have the list of qualities of things that make us human. Are we still human if, say, we do not possess an eye? That says yes... Possessing an eye and an ear does not make me less human. Alas, when we program things in, we create constructs that probably assume certain things" mirror Kripke's criticism of the theory of descriptions as meanings. Russell originally proposed that meaning can be identified with a description, "a list of things", and one then picks out references according to it. One of Kripke's objections was:"Suppose a writer in a classics journal claimed to have evidence that the hemlock plant... was extinct in Attica by the fifth century, and that the philosopher reputed to have drunk hemlock actually drank some other vegetable poison. Would it not be natural to conclude that Socrates did not, after all, drink hemlock? But if Socrates is by definition the philosopher who drank hemlock, this conclusion cannot be true regardless of the evidence."

I agree with Dave's answer, "is" and "has" run parallel to the distinction between essential and accidental properties. This was formalized in modal logic by Kripke:"Let's call something a rigid designator if in every possible world it designates the same object, a non-rigid or accidental designator if that is not the case... When we think of a property as essential to an object we usually mean that it is true of that object in any case where it would have existed". Of course, one has to adjust what counts as essential to one's purposes. Only essential properties are required for an object to stay what it is, the rest can be altered. Human "is" what is in the essence of being human, but only "has" what is accidental. It is essential for water to be H20, but it is accidental for it to have industrial uses. Nixon is essentially a son of his parents, but only accidentally a president.

In fact, OP comments:"Say we have the list of qualities of things that make us human. Are we still human if, say, we do not possess an eye? That says yes... Possessing an eye and an ear does not make me less human. Alas, when we program things in, we create constructs that probably assume certain things" mirror Kripke's criticism of the theory of descriptions as meanings. Russell originally proposed that meaning can be identified with a description, "a list of things", and one then picks out references according to it. One of Kripke's objections was:"Suppose a writer in a classics journal claimed to have evidence that the hemlock plant... was extinct in Attica by the fifth century, and that the philosopher reputed to have drunk hemlock actually drank some other vegetable poison. Would it not be natural to conclude that Socrates did not, after all, drink hemlock? But if Socrates is by definition the philosopher who drank hemlock, this conclusion cannot be true regardless of the evidence."

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From"Is" and "has" seems to run parallel to the distinction between essential and accidental properties. Only essential properties are required for an object to stay what it is, the rest can be altered. Human is what is the essence of being human, but only has what is accidental. It is essential for water to be H20, but it is accidental for it to have industrial uses. Nixon is essentially a son of his parents, but only accidentally a president. Here is Kripke:"Let's call something a rigid designator if in every possible world it designates the same object, a non-rigid or accidental designator if that is not the case... When we think of a property as essential to an object we usually mean that it is true of that object in any case where it would have existed". Of course, one has to adjust what counts as essential to one's purposes.

In fact, OP comments:"Say we have the list of qualities of things that make us human. Are we still human if, say, we do not possess an eye? That says yes... Possessing an eye and an ear does not make me less human. Alas, when we program things in, we create constructs that probably assume certain things". This mirrors almost exactly Kripke's mirror Kripke's criticism of the theory of descriptions as meanings. Kripke's solution is complicated but for this context amounts to distinguishing between essential and accidental properties of objects. Only essential properties are required for an object to stay what it is, the rest can be altered. This seems to run parallel to the distinction between "is" and "has": human is what is the essence of being human, but only has what is accidental. It is essential for water to be H20, but it is accidental for it to have industrial uses.

Russell originally proposed that meaning can be identified with a description, "a list of things", and one then picks out references according to it. One of Kripke's objections was:"Suppose a writer in a classics journal claimed to have evidence that the hemlock plant... was extinct in Attica by the fifth century, and that the philosopher reputed to have drunk hemlock actually drank some other vegetable poison. Would it not be natural to conclude that Socrates did not, after all, drink hemlock? But if Socrates is by definition the philosopher who drank hemlock, this conclusion cannot be true regardless of the evidence."

From OP comments:"Say we have the list of qualities of things that make us human. Are we still human if, say, we do not possess an eye? That says yes... Possessing an eye and an ear does not make me less human. Alas, when we program things in, we create constructs that probably assume certain things". This mirrors almost exactly Kripke's criticism of the theory of descriptions as meanings. Kripke's solution is complicated but for this context amounts to distinguishing between essential and accidental properties of objects. Only essential properties are required for an object to stay what it is, the rest can be altered. This seems to run parallel to the distinction between "is" and "has": human is what is the essence of being human, but only has what is accidental. It is essential for water to be H20, but it is accidental for it to have industrial uses.

Russell originally proposed that meaning can be identified with a description, "a list of things", and one then picks out references according to it. One of Kripke's objections was:"Suppose a writer in a classics journal claimed to have evidence that the hemlock plant... was extinct in Attica by the fifth century, and that the philosopher reputed to have drunk hemlock actually drank some other vegetable poison. Would it not be natural to conclude that Socrates did not, after all, drink hemlock? But if Socrates is by definition the philosopher who drank hemlock, this conclusion cannot be true regardless of the evidence."

"Is" and "has" seems to run parallel to the distinction between essential and accidental properties. Only essential properties are required for an object to stay what it is, the rest can be altered. Human is what is the essence of being human, but only has what is accidental. It is essential for water to be H20, but it is accidental for it to have industrial uses. Nixon is essentially a son of his parents, but only accidentally a president. Here is Kripke:"Let's call something a rigid designator if in every possible world it designates the same object, a non-rigid or accidental designator if that is not the case... When we think of a property as essential to an object we usually mean that it is true of that object in any case where it would have existed". Of course, one has to adjust what counts as essential to one's purposes.

In fact, OP comments:"Say we have the list of qualities of things that make us human. Are we still human if, say, we do not possess an eye? That says yes... Possessing an eye and an ear does not make me less human. Alas, when we program things in, we create constructs that probably assume certain things" mirror Kripke's criticism of the theory of descriptions as meanings. Russell originally proposed that meaning can be identified with a description, "a list of things", and one then picks out references according to it. One of Kripke's objections was:"Suppose a writer in a classics journal claimed to have evidence that the hemlock plant... was extinct in Attica by the fifth century, and that the philosopher reputed to have drunk hemlock actually drank some other vegetable poison. Would it not be natural to conclude that Socrates did not, after all, drink hemlock? But if Socrates is by definition the philosopher who drank hemlock, this conclusion cannot be true regardless of the evidence."

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From OP comments:"Say we have the list of qualities of things that make us human. Are we still human if, say, we do not possess an eye? That says yes... Possessing an eye and an ear does not make me less human. Alas, when we program things in, we create constructs that probably assume certain things". This mirrors almost exactly Kripke's criticism of the theory of descriptions as meanings. Kripke's solution is complicated but for this context amounts to distinguishing between essential and accidental properties of objects. Only essential properties are required for an object to stay what it is, the rest can be altered. This seems to run parallel to the distinction between "is" and "has": human is what is the essence of being human, but only has what is accidental. It is essential for water to be H20, but it is accidental for it to have industrial uses.

Russell originally proposed that meaning can be identified with a description, "a list of things", and one then picks out references according to it. One of Kripke's objections was:"Suppose a writer in a classics journal claimed to have evidence that the hemlock plant... was extinct in Attica by the fifth century, and that the philosopher reputed to have drunk hemlock actually drank some other vegetable poison. Would it not be natural to conclude that Socrates did not, after all, drink hemlock? But if Socrates is by definition the philosopher who drank hemlock, this conclusion cannot be true regardless of the evidence."