Philosophical Quarterly 46 (183):145-157 (1996)
One reason why we find the causal theory of reference so interesting is because it provides an account of de re necessity. Necessity is not only predicated of statements but also of objects. It is not only discovered by means of linguistic analysis but also by means of empirical investigation. And this means that truths we once described as contingent turn out to be necessary after all. We may think that this account of de re necessity is due to the causal theorists' open acceptance of essentialism. Certainly essentialism provides an account of de re necessity. The problem, however, is that the causal theorists do not prove essentialism so much as presuppose it. Nevertheless, they still provide an account of de re necessity - an account of de re necessity that owes nothing to essentialism. And it is this account of necessity that I plan to discuss in this paper
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