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Summary The interplay of essentialism and modal logic is a major topic in the logic and metaphysics of modality. Turquette 1953 argued that quantified modal logic (QML) entails essentialism, the view that an object can have a property essentially, independently of how it is referred to. Since he found essentialism to be unintelligible, Quine concluded by modus tollens that QML should be rejected. Kripke 1963 and Marcus 1967 have contributed to the rehabilitation of QML by showing how it can be made sense of within a suitable semantic framework. Others, such as Parsons 1969 and McKay 1975, have argued that QML is not committed to the thesis of essentialism in the way Quine thought. Now that the intelligibility of QML is no longer at issue, a central problem in the contemporary debate is whether the notion of essence can be understood in modal terms. A classical modalist analysis of essence is due to Moore 1920: x is essentially P iff x is necessarily P (or, in conditional form: iff x is necessarily P, if existent). This reduction of essence to pure QML has been found wanting by Fine 1994. A general argument against modal characterizations of essence has been proposed by Torza 2015. As a consequence, the Moorean definition has been mostly abandoned (but see Cowling 2013). Some proposals have emerged that attempt to understand essence by means of revisions or extensions of standard QML. Zalta 2006 and Wildman 2013 have proposed to reduce essence to a combination of modal and non-modal notions. Correia 2007 has put forward an analysis of essence carried out in a modal logic which is more fine-grained that standard QML.  Fine 1995, 2000 has formulated a quantified intensional logic for the notion of essence.
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  1. Essence, Modality and Identity.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    Many metaphysicians maintain that there is a close connection between essence and modality; if an object a necessarily bears property F , then it is metaphysically necessary that Fa (or, perhaps, it is metaphysically necessary that Fa if a exists). Recently, Leech (Forthcoming) has argued that this connection lacks an adequate explanation. In particular, she argues that identity doesn't explain the link between essence and modality. In contrast, I argue that identity provides the resources to undermine Leech’s explanatory demand.
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  2. A Little Puzzle About a Piece and a Puddle.Mahrad Almotahari - forthcoming - In Karen Bennett & Dean Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Volume 12. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 231-261.
    A new puzzle about material constitution is presented and its implications are discussed. The moral of the story is that familiar intuitions supporting a neo-Aristotelian view of the material world are contradictory. To accommodate these intuitions is to embrace inconsistency. Therefore, neo-Aristotelianism is worse off for its intuitive appeal. Furthermore, the puzzle is used to argue for an account of ordinary modal thought and language that’s reconstructive, or ameliorative.
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  3. A Classical Logic of Existence and Essence.Sergio Galvan & Alessandro Giordani - forthcoming - Logic and Logical Philosophy:1.
    The purpose of this paper is to provide a new system of logic for existence and essence, in which the traditional distinctions between essential and accidental properties, abstract and concrete objects, and actually existent and possibly existent objects are described and related in a suitable way. In order to accomplish this task, a primitive relation of essential identity between different objects is introduced and connected to a first order existence property and a first order abstractness property. The basic idea is (...)
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  4. Relativized Metaphysical Modality: Index and Context.Benj Hellie, Adam Russell Murray & Jessica Wilson - forthcoming - In Otávio Bueno & Scott Shalkowski (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Modality. New York: Routledge.
    Relativized Metaphysical Modality (RMM: Murray and Wilson, 'Relativized metaphysical modality', Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, 2012; Murray, Perspectives on Modal Metaphysics, 2017) exploits 'two-dimensionalist' resources to metaphysical, rather than epistemological, ends: the second dimension offers perspective-dependence without contingency, diverting attacks on 'Classical' analyses of modals (in effect, analyses validating S5 and the Barcan Formulae). Here, we extend the RMM program in two directions. First, we harvest resources for RMM from Lewis's 1980 'Context--Index' (CI) framework: (a) the ban in CI on binding (...)
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  5. Ruth Barcan Marcus. Modalities. Philosophical Essays.C. O. Hill - forthcoming - Revue Internationale de Philosophie.
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  6. Self-Authentication, and Modality De Re: A Prolegomenon'.Robert Oakes & Religious Experience - forthcoming - American Philosophical Quarterly, Vi.
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  7. Modal Paradox II: Essence and Coherence.Nathan Salmon - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-14.
    Paradoxes of nested modality, like Chisholm’s paradox, rely on S4 or something stronger as the propositional logic of metaphysical modality. Sarah-Jane Leslie’s objection to the resolution of Chisholm’s paradox by means of rejection of S4 modal logic is investigated. A modal notion of essence congenial to Leslie’s objection is clarified. An argument is presented in support of Leslie’s crucial but unsupported assertion that, on pain of inconsistency, an object’s essence is the same in every possible world. A fallacy in the (...)
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  8. Essence and Explanation: A Logical Mismatch.Aaron Segal & Noga Gratvol - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-13.
    Let Essentialism be the view that at least some object has at least some property essentially. And let Relative Essentialism be the view that Essentialism is true, but that for any object that has any property essentially, it has it essentially only relative to the value of some parameter. Meghan Sullivan has recently put forward a promising new version of Relative Essentialism, according to which the relevant parameter is an explanatory framework. We argue that despite its promise, Sullivan's version unfortunately (...)
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  9. Contingent Objects, Contingent Propositions, and Essentialism.Jonas Werner - forthcoming - Mind.
    Trevor Teitel has recently argued that combining the assumption that modality reduces to essence with the assumption that possibly some objects contingently exist leads to problems if one wishes to uphold that the logic of metaphysical modality is S5. In this paper I will argue that there is a way for the essentialist to evade the problem described by Teitel. The proposed solution crucially involves the assumption that some propositions possibly fail to exist. I will show how this assumption affords (...)
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  10. In Memoriam: Ruth Barcan Marcus 1921-2012.Timothy Williamson - forthcoming - Association for Symbolic Logic: The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic.
    Timothy Williamson The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic, Volume 19, Issue 1, Page 123-126, March 2013.
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  11. A response to Chisholm’s paradox.Andrew Dennis Bassford - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (4):1137-1155.
    Essentialists suppose that for every individual, if that individual exists at any possible world, then necessarily that individual exemplifies some non-trivial qualitative property essential to it, as such. Anti-essentialists deny this. One important argument leveled by some anti-essentialists against essentialism takes the form of a thought experiment, one originally introduced by Chisholm :1–8, 1967), sometimes referred to as Chisholm’s Paradox. In this essay, I defend essentialism against CP. I begin by presenting the argument and showing how it leads to a (...)
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  12. A Modal Account of Essence.Michael De - 2020 - Metaphysics 3 (1):17-32.
    According to the simple modal account of essence, an object has a property essentially just in case it has it in every world in which it exists. As many have observed, the simple modal account is implausible for a number of reasons. This has led to various proposals for strengthening the account, for example, by adding a restriction to the intrinsic or sparse properties. I argue, however, that these amendments to the simple modal account themselves fail. Drawing on lessons from (...)
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  13. The Reduction of Necessity to Essence.Andreas Ditter - 2020 - Mind 129 (514):351-380.
    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 (...)
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  14. A Note on Logics of Essence and Accident.David R. Gilbert & Giorgio Venturi - 2020 - Logic Journal of the IGPL 28 (5):881-891.
    In this paper, we examine the logics of essence and accident and attempt to ascertain the extent to which those logics are genuinely formalizing the concepts in which we are interested. We suggest that they are not completely successful as they stand. We diagnose some of the problems and make a suggestion for improvement. We also discuss some issues concerning definability in the formal language.
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  15. In Defense of the Possibilism–Actualism Distinction.Christopher Menzel - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (7):1971-1997.
    In Modal Logic as Metaphysics, Timothy Williamson claims that the possibilism-actualism (P-A) distinction is badly muddled. In its place, he introduces a necessitism-contingentism (N-C) distinction that he claims is free of the confusions that purportedly plague the P-A distinction. In this paper I argue first that the P-A distinction, properly understood, is historically well-grounded and entirely coherent. I then look at the two arguments Williamson levels at the P-A distinction and find them wanting and show, moreover, that, when the N-C (...)
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  16. Continuants, Identity and Essentialism.Nicholas Unwin - 2020 - Synthese 197 (8):3375-3394.
    The question of whether it is permissible to quantify into a modal context is re-examined from an empiricist perspective. Following Wiggins, it is argued that an ontology of continuants implies essentialism, but it is also argued, against Wiggins, that the only conception of necessity that we need to start out with is that of analyticity. Essentialism, of a limited kind, can then be actually generated from this. An exceptionally fine-grained identity criterion for continuants is defended in this context. The debate (...)
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  17. Grounding, Essence, And Identity.Fabrice Correia & Alexander Skiles - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (3):642-670.
    Recent metaphysics has turned its focus to two notions that are—as well as having a common Aristotelian pedigree—widely thought to be intimately related: grounding and essence. Yet how, exactly, the two are related remains opaque. We develop a unified and uniform account of grounding and essence, one which understands them both in terms of a generalized notion of identity examined in recent work by Fabrice Correia, Cian Dorr, Agustín Rayo, and others. We argue that the account comports with antecedently plausible (...)
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  18. Strong Noncontingency: On the Modal Logics of an Operator Expressively Weaker Than Necessity.Jie Fan - 2019 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 60 (3):407-435.
    Operators can be compared in at least two respects: expressive strength and deductive strength. Inspired by Hintikka’s treatment of question embedding verbs, the variations of noncontingency operator, and also the various combinations of modal operators and Boolean connectives, we propose a logic with strong noncontingency operator as the only primitive modality. The novel operator is deductively but not expressively stronger than both noncontingency operator and essence operator, and expressively but not deductively weaker than the necessity operator. The frame-definability power of (...)
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  19. On How (Not) to Define Modality in Terms of Essence.Robert Michels - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (4):1015-1033.
    In his influential article ‘Essence and Modality’, Fine proposes a definition of necessity in terms of the primitive essentialist notion ‘true in virtue of the nature of’. Fine’s proposal is suggestive, but it admits of different interpretations, leaving it unsettled what the precise formulation of an Essentialist definition of necessity should be. In this paper, four different versions of the definition are discussed: a singular, a plural reading, and an existential variant of Fine’s original suggestion and an alternative version proposed (...)
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  20. Essence and Logical Properties.Hashem Morvarid - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (11):2897-2917.
    Since Kit Fine presented his counter-examples to the standard versions of the modal view, many have been convinced that the standard versions of the modal view are not adequate. However, the scope of Fine's argument has not been fully appreciated. In this paper, I aim to carry Fine’s argument to its logical conclusion and argue that once we embrace the intuition underlying his counter-examples, we have to hold that properties obtained, totally or partially, by application of logical operations are not (...)
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  21. Modality is Not Explainable by Essence.Carlos Romero - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (274):121-141.
    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 (...)
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  22. Is Self-Identity Essential to Objects?Nicola Spinelli - 2019 - Synthese (2):1-17.
    A common view is that self-identity is essential to objects if anything is. Itself a substantive metaphysical view, this is a position of some import in wider debates, particularly in connection with such problems as physicalism and personal identity. In this article I challenge the view. I distinguish between two accounts of essence, the modal and the definitional, and argue that self-identity is essential to objects on the former but not on the latter. After laying out my case, I deal (...)
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  23. Contingent Existence and the Reduction of Modality to Essence.Trevor Teitel - 2019 - Mind 128 (509):39-68.
    This paper first argues that we can bring out a tension between the following three popular doctrines: (i) the canonical reduction of metaphysical modality to essence, due to Fine, (ii) contingentism, which says that possibly something could have failed to be something, and (iii) the doctrine that metaphysical modality obeys the modal logic S5. After presenting two such arguments (one from the theorems of S4 and another from the theorems of B), I turn to exploring various conclusions we might draw (...)
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  24. Making Semantics for Essence.Justin Zylstra - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (8):859-876.
    ABSTRACTIn this paper, I develop a truthmaker semantics for essence and use the semantics to investigate the explanatory role of essence.
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  25. The Essence of Grounding.Justin Zylstra - 2019 - Synthese 196 (12):5137-5152.
    I develop a reduction of grounding to essence. My approach is to think about the relation between grounding and essence on the model of a certain conceptof existential dependence. I extend this concept of existential dependence in a coupleof ways and argue that these extensions provide a reduction of grounding to essenceif we use sorted variables that range over facts and take it that for a fact to obtain is forit to exist. I then use the account to resolve various (...)
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  26. Constitutive and Consequentialist Essence.Justin Zylstra - 2019 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 8 (3):190-199.
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  27. Collective Essence and Monotonicity.Justin Zylstra - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (5):1087-1101.
    This paper focuses on the concept of collective essence: that some truths are essential to many items taken together. For example, that it is essential to conjunction and negation that they are truth-functionally complete. The concept of collective essence is one of the main innovations of recent work on the theory of essence. In a sense, this innovation is natural, since we make all sorts of plural predications. It stands to reason that there should be a distinction between essential and (...)
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  28. The Broadest Necessity.Andrew Bacon - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 47 (5):733-783.
    In this paper the logic of broad necessity is explored. Definitions of what it means for one modality to be broader than another are formulated, and it is proven, in the context of higher-order logic, that there is a broadest necessity, settling one of the central questions of this investigation. It is shown, moreover, that it is possible to give a reductive analysis of this necessity in extensional language. This relates more generally to a conjecture that it is not possible (...)
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  29. Essence and Definition by Abstraction.Bob Hale - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 8):2001-2017.
    We may define words or concepts, and we may also, as Aristotle and others have thought, define the things for which words stand and of which concepts are concepts. Definitions of words or concepts may be explicit or implicit, and may seek to report preexisting synonymies, as Quine put it, but they may instead be wholly or partly stipulative. Definition by abstraction, of which Hume’s principle is a much discussed example, seek to define a term-forming operator, such as the number (...)
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  30. Knowing How Things Might Have Been.Mark Jago - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 8):1-19.
    I know that I could have been where you are right now and that you could have been where I am right now, but that neither of us could have been turnips or natural numbers. This knowledge of metaphysical modality stands in need of explanation. I will offer an account based on our knowledge of the natures, or essencess, of things. I will argue that essences need not be viewed as metaphysically bizarre entities; that we can conceptualise and refer to (...)
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  31. Essential Bundle Theory and Modality.Mark Jago - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 6):1-16.
    Bundle theories identify material objects with bundles of properties. On the traditional approach, these are the properties possessed by that material object. That view faces a deep problem: it seems to say that all of an object’s properties are essential to it. Essential bundle theory attempts to overcome this objection, by taking the bundle as a specification of the object’s essential properties only. In this paper, I show that essential bundle theory faces a variant of the objection. To avoid the (...)
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  32. Essence and Mere Necessity.Jessica Leech - 2018 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 82:309-332.
    Recently, a debate has developed between those who claim that essence can be explained in terms of de re modality (modalists), and those who claim that de re modality can be explained in terms of essence (essentialists). The aim of this paper is to suggest that we should reassess. It is assumed that either necessity is to be accounted for in terms of essence, or that essence is to be accounted for in terms of necessity. I will argue that we (...)
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  33. Finean Essence, Local Necessity, and Pure Logical Properties.Hashem Morvarid - 2018 - Synthese 195 (11):4997-5005.
    Since Kit Fine published his famous counter-examples to the modal account of essence, numerous modalists have proposed to avoid the counter-examples by revising the modal account. A sophisticated revision has been put forward by Fabrice Correia. Drawing on themes from Prior’s modality, Correia has introduced a nonstandard conception of metaphysical modality and has proposed to analyze essence in its terms. He has claimed that the analysis is immune to Fine’s counter-examples. In this paper, I argue that there are counter-examples supported (...)
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  34. The New Aristotelian Essentialists.Harold W. Noonan - 2018 - Metaphysica 19 (1):87-93.
    In recent years largely due to the seminal work of Kit Fine and that of Jonathan Lowe there has been a resurgence of interest in the concept of essence and the project of explaining de re necessity in terms of it. Of course, Quine rejected what he called Aristotelian essentialism in his battle against quantified modal logic. But what he and Kripke debated was a notion of essence defined in terms of de re necessity. The new Aristotelian essentialists regard essence (...)
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  35. Modeling Unicorns and Dead Cats: Applying Bressan’s ML Ν to the Necessary Properties of Non-Existent Objects.Tyke Nunez - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 47 (1):95–121.
    Should objects count as necessarily having certain properties, despite their not having those properties when they do not exist? For example, should a cat that passes out of existence, and so no longer is a cat, nonetheless count as necessarily being a cat? In this essay I examine different ways of adapting Aldo Bressan’s MLν so that it can accommodate an affirmative answer to these questions. Anil Gupta, in The Logic of Common Nouns, creates a number of languages that have (...)
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  36. The Epistemology of Modality and the Problem of Modal Epistemic Friction.Anand Jayprakash Vaidya & Michael Wallner - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 8):1909-1935.
    There are three theories in the epistemology of modality that have received sustained attention over the past 20 years : conceivability-theory, counterfactual-theory, and deduction-theory. In this paper we argue that all three face what we call the problem of modal epistemic friction. One consequence of the problem is that for any of the three accounts to yield modal knowledge, the account must provide an epistemology of essence. We discuss an attempt to fend off the problem within the context of the (...)
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  37. Against the Reduction of Modality to Essence.Nathan Wildman - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 6):1-17.
    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a claim of metaphysical modality, in possession of good alethic standing, must be in want of an essentialist foundation. Or at least so say the advocates of the reductive-essence-first view, according to which all modality is to be reductively defined in terms of essence. Here, I contest this bit of current wisdom. In particular, I offer two puzzles—one concerning the essences of non-compossible, complementary entities, and a second involving entities whose essences are modally (...)
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  38. Essence with Ground.Justin Zylstra - 2018 - Analytic Philosophy 59 (2):193-207.
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  39. Contingent Existence and Iterated Modality.Cian Dorr - 2017 - Analysis 77 (1):155-165.
    A discussion of a view, defended by Robert Adams and Boris Kment, according to which contingent existence requires rejecting many standard principles of propositional modal logic involving iterated modal operators.
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  40. Quantified Modality and Essentialism.Saul A. Kripke - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):221-234.
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  41. Quantified Modal Logic and Quine's Critique: Some Further Observations.Saul A. Kripke - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):235-237.
  42. Priority Monism.Kelly Trogdon - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (11):1-10.
    Argument that priority monism is best understood as being a contingent thesis.
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  43. Object as a Determinable.Nicholas K. Jones - 2016 - In Mark Jago (ed.), Reality Making. Oxford University Press. pp. 121-151.
    This paper outlines a heterodox and largely unexplored conception of objecthood according to which the notion of an individual object is a determinable. §1 outlines the view. §2 argues that the view is incompatible with a natural analysis of kind membership and, as a consequence, undermines the Quinean distinction between ontology and ideology. The view is then used to alleviate one source of Quinean hostility towards non-trivial restrictions on de re possibility in §3, and to elucidate Fine’s neo-Aristoteltian, non-modal conception (...)
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  44. Prior and Possibly Not Existing.Michael Nelson - 2016 - Synthese 193 (11):3651-3663.
    In classical quantificational logic, every individual constant is assigned a value from the domain of discourse, thus ensuring that every instance of \\) is valid and so a theorem of a complete logic. Standard tense and modal logics validate a rule of necessitation, according to which, crudely, every theorem is always and necessarily true. Combining these two generates the result that everything always and necessarily exists. In a number of works from the late 1950s through to his death in 1969, (...)
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  45. Modal Science.Timothy Williamson - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (4-5):453-492.
    This paper explains and defends the idea that metaphysical necessity is the strongest kind of objective necessity. Plausible closure conditions on the family of objective modalities are shown to entail that the logic of metaphysical necessity is S5. Evidence is provided that some objective modalities are studied in the natural sciences. In particular, the modal assumptions implicit in physical applications of dynamical systems theory are made explicit by using such systems to define models of a modal temporal logic. Those assumptions (...)
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  46. Interview with Ruth Barcan Marcus.Michael Frauchiger - 2015 - In Modalities, Identity, Belief, and Moral Dilemmas: Themes From Barcan Marcus. De Gruyter. pp. 147-166.
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  47. Logic, Essence, and Modality — Review of Bob Hale's Necessary Beings. [REVIEW]Christopher Menzel - 2015 - Philosophia Mathematica 23 (3):407-428.
    Bob Hale’s distinguished record of research places him among the most important and influential contemporary analytic metaphysicians. In his deep, wide ranging, yet highly readable book Necessary Beings, Hale draws upon, but substantially integrates and extends, a good deal his past research to produce a sustained and richly textured essay on — as promised in the subtitle — ontology, modality, and the relations between them. I’ve set myself two tasks in this review: first, to provide a reasonably thorough (if not (...)
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  48. Automating Leibniz’s Theory of Concepts.Paul Edward Oppenheimer, Jesse Alama & Edward N. Zalta - 2015 - In Amy P. Felty & Aart Middeldorp (eds.), Automated Deduction – CADE 25: Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Automated Deduction (Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence: Volume 9195), Berlin: Springer. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 73-97.
    Our computational metaphysics group describes its use of automated reasoning tools to study Leibniz’s theory of concepts. We start with a reconstruction of Leibniz’s theory within the theory of abstract objects (henceforth ‘object theory’). Leibniz’s theory of concepts, under this reconstruction, has a non-modal algebra of concepts, a concept-containment theory of truth, and a modal metaphysics of complete individual concepts. We show how the object-theoretic reconstruction of these components of Leibniz’s theory can be represented for investigation by means of automated (...)
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  49. Ruth Barcan Marcus on Believing Without a Language.Joëlle Proust - 2015 - In Michael Frauchiger (ed.), Modalities, Identity, Belief, and Moral Dilemmas: Themes From Barcan Marcus. De Gruyter. pp. 111-128.
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  50. Ya Shouldn’Ta Couldn’Ta Wouldn’Ta.Stephen Steward - 2015 - Synthese 192 (6):1909-1921.
    In a recent issue of this journal, Berit Brogaard and Joe Salerno presented a counterfactual theory of essence, designed to get around Kit Fine’s influential objections to the standard modal account of essence. I argue that Brogaard and Salerno’s theory does not avoid Fine’s objections. Then I propose a sequence of variations on their theory, and argue that none of them succeed either.
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