About this topic
Summary Metaphysical necessity is typically considered to be stronger (or narrower) than physical necessity but weaker (or broader) than logical and conceptual necessity (there are exceptions, however). Traditional examples of metaphysical necessity involve theoretical identity statements such as "Water is H2O" and "Gold is the element with the atomic number 79"; both physically and metaphysically necessary, but not logically or conceptually necessary. It is sometimes thought that the various narrower notions of necessity could be defined by restriction of metaphysical necessity.
Key works Although Kripke 1980 will surely remain the classic on the topic of metaphysical necessity, more recent discussion is abundant. For a discussion of the relationship between different types of necessity and the idea that narrower notions of necessity could be defined by restriction of metaphysical necessity, see Fine 2002. Fine 1994 presents an influential case in favour of reducing metaphysical necessity to essence, different aspects of which have since been discussed, e.g., in Hale 1996, Shalkowski 1997, Lowe 1998, Zalta 2006, Cameron 2010, and Correia 2012. For discussion on Kripke's and Putnam's contributions to the literature, see for instance Edgington 2004Soames 2011, Ballarin 2013, and Tahko 2013.
Introductions Cameron 2010
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  1. Theories of Actuality.Robert Merrihew Adams - 1979 - In Michael J. Loux (ed.), The Possible and the Actual: Readings in the Metaphysics of Modality. Cornell University Press. pp. 190.
  2. Plantinga's Ontological Argument.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The ontological argument for the existence of God has enjoyed a recent renaissance among philosophers of religion. Alvin Plantinga's modal version is perhaps the most notable example. This essay critically examines Plantinga's rendition, uncovering both its strengths and weaknesses. The author concludes that while the argument is probably formally valid, it is ultimately unsound. Nonetheless, Plantinga's version has generated much interest and discussion. The author spends some time uncovering the reasons for the argument's powerful intuitive appeal. He concludes his essay (...)
  3. Naming Without Necessity.Joseph Almog - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (4):210-242.
  4. Naming and Necessity.J. E. J. Altham - 1981 - Philosophical Books 22 (1):36-37.
  5. A Causal Theory of Modality.José Tomás Alvarado - 2009 - Ideas Y Valores 58 (140):173-196.
    This work presents a causal conception of metaphysical modality in which a state of affairs is metaphysically possible if and only if it can be caused by current entities. The conception is contrasted with what is called the “combinatorial” conception of modality, in which everything can co-exist with anything else. This work explains how the notion of ‘causality’ should be construed in the causal theory, what difference exists between modalities thus defined from nomological modality, how accessibility relations between possible worlds (...)
  6. Una teoría causal de la modalidad.José Tomás Alvarado - 2009 - Ideas Y Valores 58 (140):173-196.
    El trabajo presenta una concepción causal de la modalidad metafísica en la que un estado de cosas es metafísicamente posible si y sólo si podría ser causado (en el pasado, el presente o el futuro) por entidades actuales. La concepción es contrastada con lo que se llama la concepción "combinatoria" d..
  7. How General is Generalized Scientific Essentialism?Erik Anderson - 2005 - Synthese 144 (3):373-379.
    I look at a recent argument offered in defense of a doctrine which I will call generalized scientific essentialism. This is the doctrine according to which, not only are some facts about substance composition metaphysically necessary, but, in addition, some facts about substance behavior are metaphysically necessary. More specifically, so goes the argument, not only is water necessarily composed of H2O and salt is necessarily composed of NaCl, but, in addition, salt necessarily dissolves in water. If this argument is sound, (...)
  8. A Dispositional Theory of Possibility.Neil E. Williams Andrea Borghini - 2008 - Dialectica 62 (1):21-41.
    The paper defends a naturalistic version of modal actualism according to which what is metaphysically possible is determined by dispositions found in the actual world. We argue that there is just one world – this one – and that all genuine possibilities are grounded in the dispositions exemplified in it. This is the case whether or not those dispositions are manifested. As long as the possibility is one that would obtain were the relevant disposition manifested, it is a genuine possibility. (...)
  9. Qu’est-ce que la Nécessité?Jean-Pascal Anfray - 2009 - Vrin.
    La nécessité, bien qu’elle soit centrale en philosophie, est une notion particulièrement difficile à élucider. Cet ouvrage tente d’en clarifier le contenu, en la distinguant notamment des notions voisines d’a priori et de l’analytique. Il présente également différentes approches réductionnistes de la nécessité : le réductionnisme ontique , le conventionnalisme ou encore le non-cognitivisme . Le commentaire du texte de Descartes montre d’ailleurs que ces thèses contemporaines apportent un éclairage nouveau à l’interprétation de sa doctrine de la création des vérités (...)
  10. 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 (...)
  11. The Nature of Necessity. [REVIEW]John B. Bacon - 1976 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 2:239-246.
  12. The Necessity of Origin: A Long and Winding Route.Roberta Ballarin - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (2):353-370.
    In the last 30 years much philosophical discussion has been generated by Kripke’s proof of the necessity of origin for material objects presented in footnote 56 of ‘Naming and Necessity’. I consider the two most popular reconstructions of Kripke’s argument: one appealing to the necessary sufficiency of origin, and the other employing a strong independence principle allegedly derived from the necessary local nature of prevention. I argue that, to achieve a general result, both reconstructions presuppose an implicit Humean atomistic thesis (...)
  13. Peacocke’s Epiphany: A Possible Problem for Semantic Approaches to Metaphysical Necessity.Jon Barton - 2012 - Philosophia Scientiae 16 (2):99-116.
    In his _Being Known_ Peacocke sets himself the task of answering how we come to know about metaphysical necessities. He proposes a semantic principle-based conception consisting of, first, his Principles of Possibility which pro­vide necessary and sufficient conditions for a new concept 'admissibility', and second, characterizations of possibility and of necessity in terms of that new con­cept. I focus on one structural feature; viz. the recursive application involved in the specification of 'admissibility'. After sketching Peacocke’s proposal, I intro­duce a fictional (...)
  14. A Definition of Necessity.George Bealer - 2006 - Philosophical Perspectives 20 (1):17–39.
    In the history of philosophy, especially its recent history, a number of definitions of necessity have been ventured. Most people, however, find these definitions either circular or subject to counterexamples. I will show that, given a broadly Fregean conception of properties, necessity does indeed have a noncircular counterexample-free definition.
  15. The Two Definitions and the Doctrine of Necessity.Helen Beebee - 2007 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (1pt3):413-431.
  16. Necessity Naturalized: A Critique of Modal Realism.Andrew Scott Beedle - 1994 - Dissertation, The University of Connecticut
    I might have worn a sweater today. My mug might have been filled with tea and not coffee. In short, things might have been different than they are. ;When I say that things might have been different, it seems that I am committed to believing that, on some level at least, the character of the world is open to change, or admits of a certain flexibility. It seems that I am also committed to the idea that even though things might (...)
  17. Naming, Necessity and More: Explorations in the Philosophical Work of Saul Kripke.J. Berg (ed.) - 2014 - Palgrave.
  18. Rigidity and Necessity in Kripke.P. Bhat - 1989 - Indian Philosophical Quarterly 16 (1):1.
  19. Dicing with Saul Kripke.Andrea Bianchi - 2010 - Erkenntnis 73 (2):237 - 249.
    Everyone knows what David Lewis' possible worlds are, what role they play in his account of possibility and necessity, and Saul Kripke's criticisms. But what, instead, are Kripke's possible worlds, and what role do they play in his account of possibility and necessity? The answers are not so obvious. Recently, it has even been claimed that, contrary to what is standardly assumed, Kripke's approach to modality has not always been consistently metaphysical. In particular, an interpretation of the famous passage in (...)
  20. Abduction and Modality.Stephen Biggs - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (2):283-326.
    This paper introduces a modal epistemology that centers on inference to the best explanation (i.e. abduction). In introducing this abduction-centered modal epistemology, the paper has two main goals. First, it seeks to provide reasons for pursuing an abduction-centered modal epistemology by showing that this epistemology aids a popular stance on the mind-body problem and allows an appealing approach to modality. Second, the paper seeks to show that an abduction-centered modal epistemology can work by showing that abduction can establish claims about (...)
  21. Metaphysics and Material Necessity.James A. Blachowicz - 1975 - New Scholasticism 49 (1):16-31.
  22. Proper Names, Contingency A Priori and Necessity A Posteriori.Chen Bo - 2011 - History and Philosophy of Logic 32 (2):119 - 138.
    After a brief review of the notions of necessity and a priority, this paper scrutinizes Kripke's arguments for supposedly contingent a priori propositions and necessary a posteriori propositions involving proper names, and reaches a negative conclusion, i.e. there are no such propositions, or at least the propositions Kripke gives as examples are not such propositions. All of us, including Kripke himself, still have to face the old question raised by Hume, i.e. how can we justify the necessity and universality of (...)
  23. Un mondo di possibilità. Realismo modale senza mondi possibili.Andrea Borghini - 2004 - Rivista di Estetica 26 (2):87-100.
    While preparing my suitcase for Padua, I took care to put my favorite cds in a secured spot since they could have broken along the way. Which (non-mental) fact, if any, could possibly justify my action – i.e. what, if anything, makes it the case that my cds could have broken? The paper explores the nature of possibility. The three theories most widely endorsed thus far – fictionism, actualism, and modal realism – are introduced, with a particular attention to their (...)
  24. Kripke on Identity and Necessity.David Bostock - 1977 - Philosophical Quarterly 27 (109):313-324.
  25. Comments on Naming and Necessity.Andrew Boucher - manuscript
    I recently had the occasion to reread Naming and Necessity by Saul Kripke. NaN struck me this time, as it always has, as breathtakingly clear and lucid. It also struck me this time, as it always has, as wrong-headed in several major ways, both in its methodology and its content. Herein is a brief explanation why.
  26. Island Universes and the Analysis of Modality.Phillip Bricker - 2001 - In G. Preyer & F. Siebelt (eds.), Reality and Humean Supervenience: Essays on the Philosophy of David Lewis. Rowman & Littlefield.
    It follows from Humean principles of plenitude, I argue, that island universes are possible: physical reality might have 'absolutely isolated' parts. This makes trouble for Lewis's modal realism; but the realist has a way out. First, accept absolute actuality, which is defensible, I argue, on independent grounds. Second, revise the standard analysis of modality: modal operators are 'plural', not 'individual', quantifiers over possible worlds. This solves the problem of island universes and confers three additional benefits: an 'unqualified' principle of compossibility (...)
  27. The Metaphysics of Modality.Phillip Bricker & Graeme Forbes - 1988 - Philosophical Review 97 (1):127.
  28. Reply to Roderick T. Long, "Reference and Necessity: A Rand-Kripke Synthesis" (Fall 2005): The 'Grotesque' Dichotomies Still Unbeautified.Gregory M. Browne - 2006 - Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 8 (1):123 - 142.
    This essay strongly affirms, rather than denies, continuity of reference across theory change, while reconciling this with other claims made in the book Necessary Factual Truth, and in addition defends the book's claim that all non-disjunctive qualities common to the paradigms are essential to a kind, discusses its arguments against truth by convention, and denies that its attempt to show Newton's axioms necessary is a priori, rejecting the a priori altogether.
  29. Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality, by Barbara Vetter. [REVIEW]James M. Bucknell - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1):207-208.
  30. On a Derivation of the Necessity of Identity.John P. Burgess - 2014 - Synthese 191 (7):1-19.
    The source, status, and significance of the derivation of the necessity of identity at the beginning of Kripke’s lecture “Identity and Necessity” is discussed from a logical, philosophical, and historical point of view.
  31. The Nature of Necessity.F. K. C. - 1975 - Review of Metaphysics 28 (4):762-763.
  32. The Source of Modal Truth.P. Cameron Ross - unknown
    This thesis concerns the source of modal truth. I aim to answer the question: what is it in virtue of which there are truths concerning what must have been the case as a matter of necessity, or could have been the case but isn't. I begin by looking at a dilemma put forward by Simon Blackburn which attempts to show that any realist answer to this question must fail, and I conclude that either horn of his dilemma can be resisted. (...)
  33. On the Source of Necessity.Ross Cameron - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffman (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic and Epistemology. Oxford University Press.
    Simon Blackburn posed a dilemma for any realist attempt to identify the source of necessity. Either the facts appealed to to ground modal truth are themselves necessary, or they are contingent. If necessary, we begin the process towards regress; but if contingent, we undermine the necessity whose source we wanted to explain. Bob Hale attempts to blunt both horns of this dilemma. In this paper I examine their respective positions and attempt to clear up some confusions on either side. I (...)
  34. What's Metaphysical About Metaphysical Necessity?Ross Cameron - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (1):1 - 16.
    I begin by contrasting three approaches one can take to the distinction between the essential and accidental properties: an ontological, a deflationary, and a mind-dependent approach. I then go on to apply that distinction to the necessary a posteriori, and defend the deflationist view. Finally I apply the distinction to modal truth in general and argue that the deflationist position lets us avoid an otherwise pressing problem for the actualist: the problem of accounting for the source of modal truth.
  35. The Grounds of Necessity.Ross P. Cameron - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (4):348-358.
    Some truths are necessary, others could have been false. Why? What is the source of the distinction between the necessary and the contingent? What's so special about the necessary truths that account for their necessity? In this article, we look at some of the most promising accounts of the grounds of necessity: David Lewis' reduction of necessity to truth at all possible worlds; Kit Fine's reduction of necessity to essence; and accounts of necessity that take the distinction between the necessary (...)
  36. Necessity and Triviality.Ross P. Cameron - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (3):401-415.
  37. What’s Metaphysical About Metaphysical Necessity?Ross P. Cameron - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (1):1-16.
    I begin by contrasting three approaches one can take to the distinction between the essential and accidental properties: an ontological, a deflationary, and a mind-dependent approach. I then go on to apply that distinction to the necessary a posteriori, and defend the deflationist view. Finally I apply the distinction to modal truth in general and argue that the deflationist position lets us avoid an otherwise pressing problem for the actualist: the problem of accounting for the source of modal truth.
  38. The Contingency of Composition.Ross P. Cameron - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (1):99-121.
    There is widespread disagreement as to what the facts are concerning just when a collection of objects composes some further object; but there is widespread agreement that, whatever those facts are, they are necessary. I am unhappy to simply assume this, and in this paper I ask whether there is reason to think that the facts concerning composition hold necessarily. I consider various reasons to think so, but find fault with each of them. I examine the theory of composition as (...)
  39. The Eightfold Way: Why Analyticity, Apriority and Necessity Are Independent.Douglas Ian Campbell - 2017 - Philosophers' Imprint 17:1-17.
    This paper concerns the three great modal dichotomies: (i) the necessary/contingent dichotomy; (ii) the a priori/empirical dichotomy; and (iii) the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. These can be combined to produce a tri-dichotomy of eight modal categories. The question as to which of the eight categories house statements and which do not is a pivotal battleground in the history of analytic philosophy, with key protagonists including Descartes, Hume, Kant, Kripke, Putnam and Kaplan. All parties to the debate have accepted that some categories are (...)
  40. Meaning and Necessity, A Study in Semantics and Modal Logic.Rudolf Carnap - 1958 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 18 (4):558-559.
  41. Meaning and Necessity, a Study in Semantics and Modal Logic.Rudolf Carnap - 1958 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 9 (35):249-251.
  42. Meaning and Necessity: A Study in Semantics and Modal Logic.Rudolf Carnap - 1957 - Philosophy of Science 24 (1):92-92.
  43. Meaning and Necessity: A Study in Semantics and Modal Logic.Rudolf Carnap - 1949 - Mind 58 (230):228-238.
  44. " Possibility", de Michael Jubien.Rodrigo Neira Castaño - 2013 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 32 (3):179-183.
  45. Logic and Modality: Reply to Frank Sautter.O. Chateaubriand - 2004 - Manuscrito 27 (1):105-114.
    In §1 I examine the connections between my account of logical properties and Tarski’s account of logical notions. In §2 I briefly present some of my views on modality and the basis for my claim that there are intensional as well as extensional relations between properties. In §3 I compare my views on the nature of logic and of mathematics with Gödel’s views.
  46. Review of Alvin Plantinga, Matthew Davidson (Ed.), Essays in the Metaphysics of Modality[REVIEW]Charles Chihara - 2003 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2003 (6).
    This book consists of an introduction by the editor, eleven of Plantinga’s previously published pieces, and an index. The previously published works are presented in the following chronological order: “De Re et De Dicto” (1969); “World and Essence” (1970); “Transworld Identity or Worldbound Individuals?” (1973); Chapter VIII of The Nature of Necessity (1974); “Actualism and Possible Worlds” (1976); “The Boethian Compromise” (1978); “De Essentia” (1979); “On Existentialism” (1983); “Reply to John L. Pollock” (1985); “Two Concepts of Modality: Modal Realism and (...)
  47. The Worlds of Possibility: Modal Realism and the Semantics of Modal Logic.Charles Chihara - 2001 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (202):108-110.
  48. The Worlds of Possibility: Modal Realism and the Semantics of Modal Logic.Charles Chihara - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (2):483-486.
  49. The Worlds of Possibility, Modal Realism and the Semantics of Modal Logic.Charles S. Chihara - 2004 - Studia Logica 76 (3):443-446.
  50. The Worlds of Possibility: Modal Realism and the Semantics of Modal Logic.Charles S. Chihara - 2001 - Mind 110 (439):736-740.
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