Modality is Not Explainable by Essence

Philosophical Quarterly 69 (274):121-141 (2019)
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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 logic of essence, and in terms of the theory of real definitions. I will conclude that the present evidence favours rejecting the hypothesis that modality is explainable by essence.

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Carlos Romero
Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso


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