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Against the reduction of modality to essence

Synthese 198 (S6):1455-1471 (2018)

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  1. Knowing how things might have been.Mark Jago - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 8):1-19.
    I know that I could have been where you are right now and that you could have been where I am right now, but that neither of us could have been turnips or natural numbers. This knowledge of metaphysical modality stands in need of explanation. I will offer an account based on our knowledge of the natures, or essencess, of things. I will argue that essences need not be viewed as metaphysically bizarre entities; that we can conceptualise and refer to (...)
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  • Merely partial definition and the analysis of knowledge.Samuel Z. Elgin - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 7):1481-1505.
    Two families of positions dominate debates over a metaphysically reductive analysis of knowledge. Traditionalism holds that knowledge has a complete, uniquely identifying analysis, while knowledge-first epistemology contends that knowledge is primitive—admitting of no reductive analysis whatsoever. Drawing on recent work in metaphysics, I argue that these alternatives fail to exhaust the available possibilities. Knowledge may have a merely partial analysis: a real definition that distinguishes it from some, but not all other things. I demonstrate that this position is attractive; it (...)
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  • Essential vs. Accidental Properties.Teresa Robertson & Philip Atkins - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The distinction between essential versus accidental properties has been characterized in various ways, but it is currently most commonly understood in modal terms: an essential property of an object is a property that it must have, while an accidental property of an object is one that it happens to have but that it could lack. Let’s call this the basic modal characterization, where a modal characterization of a notion is one that explains the notion in terms of necessity/possibility. In the (...)
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  • Relativized Essentialism about Modalities.Salim Hirèche - 2022 - Argumenta 7 (2):463-484.
    On what I call absolutist essentialism about modality (AE), the metaphysical necessities are the propositions that are true in virtue of the essence (i.e. Aristotelian, absolute essence) of some entities. Other kinds of necessity can then be defined by restriction – e.g. the conceptual necessities are the propositions that are true in virtue of the essence of conceptual entities specifically. As an account of metaphysical modality and some other kinds (e.g. logical, conceptual), AE may have important virtues. However, when it (...)
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  • Essence and Necessity.Andreas Ditter - 2022 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 51 (3):653-690.
    What is the relation between metaphysical necessity and essence? This paper defends the view that the relation is one of identity: metaphysical necessity is a special case of essence. My argument consists in showing that the best joint theory of essence and metaphysical necessity is one in which metaphysical necessity is just a special case of essence. The argument is made against the backdrop of a novel, higher-order logic of essence, whose core features are introduced in the first part of (...)
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  • A ground-theoretical modal definition of essence.Julio De Rizzo - 2022 - Analysis 82 (1):32-41.
    I provide a case-by-case definition of essential truths based on the notions of metaphysical necessity and ontological dependence. Relying on suggestions in the literature, I adopt a definition of the latter notion in terms of the notion of ground. The resulting account is adequate in the sense that it is not subject to Kit Fine’s famous counterexamples to the purely modal account of essence. In addition, it provides us with a novel conception of truths pertaining to the essence of objects, (...)
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  • Social kinds are essentially mind-dependent.Rebecca Mason - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (12):3975-3994.
    I defend a novel view of how social kinds (e.g., money, women, permanent residents) depend on our mental states. In particular, I argue that social kinds depend on our mental states in the following sense: it is essential to them that they exist (partially) because certain mental states exist. This analysis is meant to capture the very general way in which all social kinds depend on our mental states. However, my view is that particular social kinds also depend on our (...)
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  • Essence, Explanation, and Modality.Michael Wallner & Anand Vaidya - 2020 - Philosophy 95 (4):419-445.
    Recently, Kit Fine's (1994) view that modal truths aretrue in virtue of,grounded in, orexplained byessentialist truths has been under attack. In what follows we offer two responses to the wave of criticism against his view. While the first response is pretty straightforward, the second is based on the distinction between, what we call,Reductive Finean EssentialismandNon-Reductive Finean Essentialism. Engaging the work of Bob Hale onNon-Reductive Finean Essentialism, we aim to show that the arguments against Fine's view are unconvincing, while we acknowledge (...)
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  • The limits of neo‐aristotelian plenitude.Joshua Spencer - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 101 (1):74-92.
    Neo‐Aristotelian Plenitude is the thesis that, necessarily, any property that could be had essentially by something or other is had essentially by something or other if and only if and because it is instantiated; any essentializable property is essentialized iff and because it is instantiated. In this paper, I develop a partial nonmodal characterization of ‘essentializable' and show it cannot be transformed into a full characterization. There are several seemingly insurmountable obstacles that any full characterization of essentializability must overcome. Moreover, (...)
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  • Knowing how things might have been.Mark Jago - 2018 - Synthese 198 (S8):1981-1999.
    I know that I could have been where you are right now and that you could have been where I am right now, but that neither of us could have been turnips or natural numbers. This knowledge of metaphysical modality stands in need of explanation. I will offer an account based on our knowledge of the natures, or essencess, of things. I will argue that essences need not be viewed as metaphysically bizarre entities; that we can conceptualise and refer to (...)
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  • Causal fundamentality.Soufiane Hamri - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-13.
    I present an argument for causal fundamentality, understood as the thesis that the causal history of every being, whose existence has a causal explanation, includes some uncaused beings. I argue that this thesis is a consequence of an actualist account of metaphysical modality whose novelty lies in its hybrid dispositional-essentialist foundation. I argue that my modal theory is extensionally correct and minimalistic. Its range of metaphysical necessities and possibilities is just as wide as needed to capture the pre-theoretical notion of (...)
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  • Modality is Not Explainable by Essence.Carlos Romero - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (274):121-141.
    Some metaphysicians believe that metaphysical modality is explainable by the essences of objects. In §II, I spell out the definitional view of essence, and in §III, a working notion of metaphysical explanation. Then, in §IV, I consider and reject five natural ways to explain necessity by essence: in terms of the principle that essential properties can't change, in terms of the supposed obviousness of the necessity of essential truth, in terms of the logical necessity of definitions, in terms of Fine's (...)
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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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  • Towards a Philosophy of Chemical Reactivity Through the Molecule in Atoms-of Concept.Saturnino Calvo-Losada & José Joaquín Quirante - 2022 - Axiomathes 32 (1):1-41.
    A novel non-classical mereological concept built up by blending the Metaphysics of Xavier Zubiri and the Quantum Theory of Atoms in Molecules of R. F. W. Bader is proposed. It is argued that this philosophical concept is necessary to properly account for what happens in a chemical reaction. From the topology of the gradient of the laplacian of the electronic charge density, \\) within the QTAIM framework, different “atomic graphs” are found for each atom depending on the molecular context, reflecting (...)
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  • Laying ghosts to rest.Donnchadh O’Conaill - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (2):429-445.
    One of the most widely-discussed arguments against physcialism appeals to the conceivability of zombies, being which are physically or functionally identical to humans but which have no conscious experiences. Philip Goff : 119–139, 2010; Consci Cognit 21: 742–746, 2012a; in Sprevak M, Kallestrup J New waves in philosophy of mind. Palgrave, 2014) has recently presented a number of different anti-physicalist arguments appealing to the conceivability of ghosts, entities whose nature is exhausted by their being conscious. If ghosts are conceivable, this (...)
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