About this topic
Summary De re modality concerns the modal properties that an object has in virtue of itself. This contrasts with de dicto modality, which concerns modal properties that are merely "said of" an object. More formally: De dicto: Necessarily, some x is such that it is F.  De re: Some x is such that it is necessarily F. The essence of an entity in contemporary metaphysics is generally regarded as being constituted by the entity's de re modal properties. For instance, if we consider it necessary for John to be human, then this is part of John's essence. Different varieties of essentialism can be distinguished by the kind of de re modal properties in question. If we debate whether it is necessary for John to have the very parents that he actually has, we are debating origins essentialism. It should also be noted that essences may be individual or general. John's essence is an individual essence, and it may be essential for John to belong to the (natural) kind human. But we can also ask what is essential for the kind, e.g. whether humans are essentially rational. In that case we are concerned with the general essence of humans. Essentialism about species is a good example of a debate concerning general essences. Essences are commonly considered to be synonymous with de re modal properties, following the work of Kripke and others. However, the more traditional view, following Aristotle, may in fact be that essence is ontologically prior to modality. Recently, such non-modal accounts of essence have been defended in the literature, with one suggestion being that essence should be explicated via real definition.
Key works The most influential modern contributions are no doubt Kripke 1980, and Putnam 1975 which reintroduced essentialism into metaphysics. Quine's classic critique (Quine 1953) of De Re Modality was largely undermined by the contributions of Kripke and Putnam, but Marcus 1967 and Hintikka 1970 should also be mentioned. Wiggins 1980, Plantinga 1992, and Salmon 2005 are also classics. One important application of essentialism is counterpart theory, e.g. Lewis 1968. The secondary literature on different aspects of the topic is enormous, but recent, often cited contributions include Bealer 1987, Shalkowski 1994, Ellis 2001, Della Rocca 2002, LaPorte 2004, Paul 2006, Mackie 2006, and Devitt 2008. Non-modal accounts of essence have been gaining popularity, especially due to the work of Kit Fine (e.g. Fine 1994). Other recent works in this tradition include Paul 2006Oderberg 2007, Lowe 2008, Tahko 2009, Correia 2012, Dumsday 2012, and Vaidya 2010.
Introductions Robertson 2008, Cameron 2010, Roca-Royes 2011, Roca-Royes 2011.
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Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Essentialism and De Re Modality
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  1. Hugh T. Bredin (1976). Metaphysics and Essence. Philosophical Studies 25:333-335.
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  2. Teresa Brennan (1996). Essence Against Identity. Metaphilosophy 27 (1‐2):92-103.
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  3. Michael Cohen (1984). Reference and Essence. Philosophical Investigations 7 (2):173-177.
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  4. M. J. Cresswell (2010). Predicate Wormism a Quinean Account of de Re Modality. Logique Et Analyse 212:449-464.
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  5. Durant Drake (1920). The Status of the Essences Given in Knowledge. Philosophical Review 29 (2):173-179.
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  6. Frederic B. Fitch (1967). A Theory of Logical Essences. The Monist 51 (1):104-109.
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  7. Dan Goldstick (1986). What Are "Purely Qualitative" Terms? American Philosophical Quarterly 23 (1):71 - 81.
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  8. Jack Kaminsky (1985). Identity and Essence. International Studies in Philosophy 17 (3):89-90.
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  9. Frederick William Kroon (1987). Reference and Essence. Philosophical Studies 31:349-356.
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  10. Genoveva Martí (2012). On Modality and Reference: Ruth Barcan Marcus (1921-2012). Teorema: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 31 (2):203-212.
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  11. Genoveva Marti (1995). The Essence of Genuine Reference. Journal of Philosophical Logic 24 (3):275-289.
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  12. Frederick Mayer (1950). Essentialism a New Approach to a One-World Philosophy. Hampton Hall Press.
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  13. Joseph Melia (1990). Graeme Forbes, "Languages of Possibility". [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 40 (59):271.
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  14. Jared S. Moore (1928). What and Where Are the Essences? Philosophical Review 37 (4):373-376.
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  15. J. M. E. Moravcsik (1976). The Discernibility of Identicals. Journal of Philosophy 73 (17):587-598.
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  16. Douglas Odegard (1971). Locke, Geach, and Individual Essences. Philosophical Studies 22 (5-6):70 - 73.
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  17. Slobodan Perovic (2004). Brian Ellis, The Philosophy of Nature: A Guide to the New Essentialism Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 24 (2):95-97.
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  18. Charles M. Perry (1930). Essences Sublimated. Journal of Philosophy 27 (3):57-65.
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  19. Juliana Geran Pilon (1979). A Defense of Realism, Not Essentialism. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 60 (1):92.
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  20. Luminiţa Pogăceanu (2008). Essentialism and Musicality. Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations 7.
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  21. Lawrence R. Poncinie (1980). The Semantics of Contemporary Essentialism. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago
    The thesis presents and defends an essentialistic semantic theory. The theory has a formal and an informal component. The formal component is the intensional modal logic of Aldo Bressan, a possible worlds system that has certain advantages over better known systems like those of Carnap or Krip.
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  22. M. S. Price (1982). On the Non-Necessity of Origin. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 12 (1):33 - 45.
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  23. Jeffry L. Ramsey & Rosenfeld Bhushan (2000). Realism, Essentialism, and Intrinsic Properties. In Nalini Bhushan & Stuart Rosenfeld (eds.), Of Minds and Molecules: New Philosophical Perspectives on Chemistry. New York: Oxford University Press. 117.
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  24. Teresa Robertson (2002). Are Modal Contexts Opaque? Southwest Philosophy Review 18 (1):79-88.
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  25. Teresa Robertson & Graeme Forbes (2006). Does the New Route Reach its Destination? Mind 115 (458):367-374.
    A New Route to the Necessity of Origin’, Guy Rohrbaugh and Louis deRossett argue for the Necessity of Origin in a way that they believe avoids use of any kind of transworld constitutional sufficiency principle. In this discussion, we respond that either their arguments do imply a sufficiency principle, or else they entirely fail to establish the Necessity of Origin.
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  26. Michael Delia Rocca (1996). Essentialism: Part 1. Philosophical Books 37 (1):1-13.
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  27. Michael Della Rocca (2002). Essentialism Versus Essentialism. In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Clarendon Press.
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  28. Michael Della Rocca (1996). Essentialism: Part 2. Philosophical Books 37 (2):81-89.
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  29. Gary Sol Rosenkrantz (1976). Individual Essences. Dissertation, Brown University
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  30. Paul Rux (1980). Essentialism: Being an Annotated Reading List on the Subject. Journal of Thought 15 (1):105-14.
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  31. Saul Saila (1992). Save the Salmon. BioScience 42 (3):195-196.
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  32. R. M. Sainsbury (2008). The Essence of Reference. In Ernest Lepore & Barry Smith (eds.), he Oxford Handbook to the Philosophy of Language. Oup Oxford.
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  33. Theodore Scaltsas, David Charles & Mary Louise Gill (eds.) (1994). Essences, Powers, and Generic Propositions. Clarendon Press.
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  34. David Schreiber (1965). Essences: Haiku in English. Hibbert Journal 64 (53):50.
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  35. Thomas Schwartz (1997). De Re Language, de Re Eliminability, and the Essential Limits of Both. Journal of Philosophical Logic 26 (5):521-544.
    De re modality is eliminable if there is an effective translation of all wffs into non-de re equivalents. We cannot have logical equivalence unless 'logic' has odd theses, but we can have material equivalence by banning all essences, something the nonde re facts let us do, or by giving everything such humdrum essences as self-identity and banning the more interesting ones. Eliminability cannot be got from weaker assumptions, nor independent ones of even modest generality. The net philosophical import is that, (...)
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  36. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Diana Raffman & Nicholas Asher (eds.) (1994). Modality, Morality and Belief. Essays in Honor of Ruth Barcan Marcus. Cambridge University Press.
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  37. Benjamin TH Smart, Kind-Membership as the Essence of an Individual.
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  38. Ivan Snook (1989). Contexts and Essences: Indoctrination Revisited. Educational Philosophy and Theory 21 (1):62–65.
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  39. Robert C. Stalnaker (1997). Reference and Necessity. In Bob Hale & Crispin Wright (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Blackwell.
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  40. Dean Stretton (2004). Essential Properties and the Right to Life: A Response to Lee. Bioethics 18 (3):264–282.
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  41. Peter Sykora (1995). Species as Historical Essences. Organon F 2 (3):225-243.
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  42. C. Taddei-Ferretti (ed.) (2012). Going Beyond Essentialism: Bernard J. Istituto Italiano Per Gli Studi Filosofici.
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  43. Paul Thom (1998). How to Base Apodeictic Syllogistic on Essentialist Theory. Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 1.
    Essentialist theories are based on notions of necessity and essentiality. Kinds and Quasi-Kinds can be defined in terms of these notions. Aristotle's essentialism asserts that Kinds are unions of Quasi-Kinds, Kinds that can overlap are necessarily included in a common Kind, and Kinds partition into sub-Kinds. Truth-conditions for the apodeictic propositions of Aristotle's modal syllogistic are stated in terms of necessity and essentiality, but independent of theses -. While the basic insights motivating Patterson's and Nortmann's interpretations of modal syllogistic are (...)
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  44. J. L. H. Thomas (1986). The Identity of Being and Essence in God. Heythrop Journal 27 (4):394–408.
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  45. James E. Tomberlin (1970). A Correct Account of Essentialism? Critica 4 (11/12):55 - 66.
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  46. F. C. White (1978). On Essences in Thecratylus. Southern Journal of Philosophy 16 (3):259-274.
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  47. D. Woodward (1985). Modal Logic Without Essences. Logique Et Analyse 28 (112):299-315.
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  48. Index to Volume Xxvi (1997). ANDERSON, Erik Dispositional Essentialism: Alive and Well ARONSON, Jerrold L. Kinds. Philosophical Papers 179 (26):1.
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  49. Hikmet Yaman (2011). The Cristicism Fo the People of the Book (Ahl Alkitäb) in the Qur'än: Essentialist or Contextual? Gregorianum 92 (1):183-198.
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Counterpart Theory
  1. Andrew Bacon (2014). Representing Counterparts. Australasian Journal of Logic 11 (2):90-113.
    This paper presents and motivates a counterpart theoretic semantics for quantifi ed modal logic based on a fleshed out account of Lewis's notion of a `possibility.' According to the account a possibility consists of a world and some haecceitistic information about how each possible individual gets represented de re. A semantics for quanti ed modal logic based on evaluating formulae at possibilities is developed. It is shown that this framework naturally accommodates an actuality operator, addressing recent objections to counterpart theory, (...)
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