The Reduction of Necessity to Essence

Mind (forthcoming)
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Abstract
In `Essence and Modality', Kit Fine proposes that for a proposition to be metaphysically necessary is for it to be true in virtue of the nature of all objects whatsoever. Call this view Fine's Thesis. This paper is a study of Fine's Thesis in the context of Fine's logic of essence (LE). Fine himself has offered his most elaborate defense of the thesis in the context of LE. His defense rests on the widely shared assumption that metaphysical necessity obeys the laws of the modal logic S5. In order to get S5 for metaphysical necessity, he assumes a controversial principle about the nature of all objects. I will show that the addition of this principle to his original system E5 leads to inconsistency with an independently plausible principle about essence. In response, I develop a theory that avoids this inconsistency while allowing us to maintain S5 for meta- physical necessity. However, I conclude that our investigation of Fine's Thesis in the context of LE motivates the revisionary conclusion that metaphysical necessity obeys the principles of the modal logic S4, but not those of S5. I argue that this constitutes a distinctively essentialist challenge to the received view that the logic of metaphysical necessity is S5.
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Archival date: 2019-06-26
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