Essentialism vis-à-vis Possibilia, Modal Logic, and Necessitism

Philosophy Compass 6 (1):54-64 (2011)
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Abstract

Pace Necessitism – roughly, the view that existence is not contingent – essential properties provide necessary conditions for the existence of objects. Sufficiency properties, by contrast, provide sufficient conditions, and individual essences provide necessary and sufficient conditions. This paper explains how these kinds of properties can be used to illuminate the ontological status of merely possible objects and to construct a respectable possibilist ontology. The paper also reviews two points of interaction between essentialism and modal logic. First, we will briefly see the challenge that arises against S4 from flexible essential properties; as well as the moves available to block it. After this, the emphasis is put on the Barcan Formula (BF), and on why it is problematic for essentialists. As we will see, Necessitism can accommodate both (BF) and essential properties. What necessitists cannot do at the same time is to continue to understanding essential properties as providing necessary conditions for the existence of individuals; against what might be for some a truism.

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Sonia Roca-Royes
University of Stirling

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