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Essence and Explanation

Metaphysics 2 (1):88-96 (2020)

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  1. Contemporary (Analytic Tradition).Robert Michels - 2024 - In Kathrin Koslicki & Michael J. Raven (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Essence in Philosophy. Routledge.
    This paper provides an overview of the history of the notion of essence in 20th century analytic philosophy, focusing on views held by influential analytic philosophers who discussed, or relied on essence or cognate notions in their works. It in particular covers Russell and Moore’s different approaches to essence before and after breaking with British idealism, the (pre- and post-)logical positivists’ critique of metaphysics and rejection of essence (Wittgenstein, Carnap, Schlick, Stebbing), the tendency to loosen the notion of logical necessity (...)
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  • The laws of modality.Matthew Tugby - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (8):2597-2618.
    Nomic realists have traditionally put laws to work within a theory of natural modality, in order to provide a metaphysical source for causal necessitation, counterfactuals, and dispositions. However, laws are well-suited to perform other work as well. Necessitation is a widespread phenomenon and includes cases of categorial, conceptual, grounding, mathematical and normative necessitation. A permissive theory of universals allows us to extend nomic realism into these other domains. With a particular focus on grounding necessitation, it is argued that the sorts (...)
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  • From Essence to Metaphysical Modality?Harold W. Noonan - 2020 - Axiomathes 32 (2):345-354.
    How can we acquire knowledge of metaphysical modality? How can someone come to know that he could have been elsewhere right now, or an accountant rather than a philosophy teacher, but could not have been a turnip? Jago proposes an account of a route to knowledge of the way things could have been and must be. He argues that we can move to knowledge of metaphysical modality from knowledge about essence. Curtis rejects Jago’s explanation. It cannot, he argues, explain our (...)
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  • Are there iterated essentialist truths?Andreas Ditter - 2023 - Analysis 84 (1):3-12.
    Let an iterated essentialist statement be a statement of the form 'It lies in the nature of x1,x2,... that it lies in the nature of y1,y2,... that φ'. Let Iteration be the thesis that there are true iterated essentialist statements. Iteration has recently been disputed by Dasgupta (2014) and Glazier (2017). Both authors take the falsity of Iteration to be central to the explanatory role of essentialist truths. An important consequence that is not explicitly noted by them is that the (...)
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  • Essence, Modality, and Identity.Fabrice Correia & Alexander Skiles - 2021 - Mind 131 (524):1279-1302.
    In a recent article forthcoming in *Mind*, Leech (2020) presents a challenge for essentialist accounts of metaphysical modality: why should it be that essences imply corresponding necessities? Leech’s main focus is to argue that one cannot overcome the challenge by utilizing an account of essence in terms of generalized identity due to Correia and Skiles (2019), on pain of circularity. In this reply, we will show how to use identity-based essentialism to bridge ‘epistemic’ and ‘explanatory’ understandings of this alleged essence-to-necessity (...)
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  • Is Knowledge of Essence the Basis of Modal Knowledge?Albert Casullo - 2020 - Res Philosophica 97 (4):593-609.
    E. J. Lowe offers an account of modal knowledge that involves two primary theses. First, the basis of modal knowledge is essential knowledge, and the source of essential knowledge is grasp of essence. Second, all empirical knowledge ultimately depends on some modal knowledge. This article assesses Lowe’s account and defends four conclusions. First, there is a tension in Lowe’s account of grasp of essence; it wavers between an undemanding version, which holds that grasp of essence requires no more than our (...)
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  • On Explaining Necessity by the Essence of Essence.Carlos Romero - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    There has been much debate recently on the question whether essence can explain modality. Here, I examine two routes to an essentialist account of modality. The first is Hale's argument for the necessity of essence, which I will argue is — notwithstanding recent attempted defences of it — invalid by its very structure. The second is the proposal that it is essential to essential truth that it is necessary. After offering three possible versions of the view, I will argue that (...)
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  • On the necessity of essence.Gaétan Bovey - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (7):2167-2185.
    In the present inquiry, I defend the claim that the thesis that essence is the source of all necessity is compromised. I argue that, on pain of circularity, essentialists cannot successfully account for the necessity of essences. In response to the difficulties I raise, I discuss potential solutions on behalf of essentialists and explain why I find none of them compelling. My conclusion on the matter is that the best essentialists can hope for is a view where the necessity of (...)
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