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How to be a modalist about essence

In Mark Jago (ed.), Reality Making. Oxford University Press (2016)

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  1. 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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  • Constitutive Essence and Partial Grounding.Eileen S. Nutting, Ben Caplan & Chris Tillman - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (2):137-161.
    Kit Fine and Gideon Rosen propose to define constitutive essence in terms of ground-theoretic notions and some form of consequential essence. But we think that the Fine–Rosen proposal is a mistake. On the Fine–Rosen proposal, constitutive essence ends up including properties that, on the central notion of essence, are necessary but not essential. This is because consequential essence is closed under logical consequence, and the ability of logical consequence to add properties to an object’s consequential essence outstrips the ability of (...)
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  • In Defence of Modal Essentialism.Jonathan Livingstone-Banks - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (8):816-838.
    Kit Fine’s arguments in Essence and Modality are widely accepted as being a decisive blow against modal essentialism. A selection of replies exist that have done little to counter the general view that modally construed essence is out of touch with what we really mean when we make essentialist claims. I argue that Fine’s arguments fail to strike a decisive blow, and I suggest a new interpretation of the debate that shows why Fine’s arguments fall short of achieving their goal.
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  • Essence, Modality, and Intrinsicality.Gaétan Bovey - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    Kit Fine famously objected against the idea that essence can be successfully analyzed in terms of de re necessity. In response, I want to explore a novel, interesting, but controversial modal account of essence in terms of intrinsicality and grounding. In the first section, I will single out two theoretical requirements that any essentialist theory should meet—the essentialist desideratum and the essentialist challenge—in order to clarify Fine’s objections. In the second section, I will assess Denby’s improved modal account, which appeals (...)
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  • Against the Reduction of Modality to Essence.Nathan Wildman - 2018 - Synthese: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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  • Correct Conceivability and its Role in the Epistemology of Modality.Robert Michels - 2020 - Les Principes Métaphysiques.
    The starting point of this paper is an argument to the conclusion that the definition of metaphysical possibility in terms of correct conceivability, conceivability informed by knowledge of relevant essences, found in Rosen (2006) is equivalent to a version of the essentialist definition of metaphysical necessity. This argument appears to show that correct conceivability is a notion of conceivability by name only and is therefore of no interest to epistemologists of modality. In this paper, I present the equivalence argument, explain (...)
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  • Wildman’s Defense of Sparse Modalism and a Dilemma of Post-Finean Modalism.Jaeho Lee - forthcoming - Axiomathes:1-17.
    Since K. Fine’s influential criticism of modalism, many philosophers have agreed that we cannot understand the concept of essence with that of modality. However, some philosophers have resisted this mainstream position. In this paper, I examine N. Wildman’s claim that, unlike other versions of modalism, his version of modalism, namely Sparse Modalism can save modalism. I will argue first that if we introduce the notion of grounding into this debates, Wildman’s criticisms of other versions are significantly undermined. Next, I will (...)
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  • Essence, Necessity, and Definition.Justin Zylstra - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (2):339-350.
    What is it for something to be essential to an item? For some time, it was standard to think that the concept of necessity alone can provide an answer: for something to be essential to an item is for it to be strictly implied by the existence of that item. We now tend to think that this view fails because its analysans is insufficient for its analysandum. In response, some argue that we can supplement the analysis in terms of necessity (...)
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