Abstract The article is a critical examination of Joshua Hoffman's and Gary Rosenkrantz’ approach to the traditional category of individual substance. On several places they offered an analysis of the concept of a substance in terms of some highly sophisticated notion of generic independence. Though ingenious, and even though it might be extensionally adequate, their account cannot provide an informative analysis of the concept in question, because it exhibits a peculiar kind of circularity. It is shown that one cannot establish, on the basis of their analysis, that a given entity is a substance, if one does not already know that it is one in advance. The circularity of their account is examined in detail, and it is explained how it could have arisen.