Essence and Necessity

Journal of Philosophical Logic 51 (3):653-690 (2022)
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Abstract
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 the paper. The second part investigates the relation between metaphysical necessity and essence in the context of HLE. Reductive hypotheses are among the most natural hypotheses to be explored in the context of HLE. But they also have to be weighed against their non-reductive rivals. I investigate three different reductive hypotheses and argue that two of them fare better than their non-reductive rivals: they are simpler, more natural, and more systematic. Specifically, I argue that one candidate reduction, according to which metaphysical necessity is truth in virtue of the nature of all propositions, is superior to the others, including one proposed by Kit Fine, according to which metaphysical necessity is truth in virtue of the nature of all objects. The paper concludes by offering some reasons to think that the best joint theory of essence and metaphysical necessity is one in which the logic of metaphysical necessity includes S4, but not S5.
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Archival date: 2021-11-08
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