Metaphysics 3 (1):17-32 (2020)

Michael De
Utrecht University
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 these failures, I propose a new version of a modal account, inspired by Ruth Barcan Marcus's defense of the coherence of quantified modal logic, according to which an object has a property essentially just in case (i) it has it in every world in which it exists, (ii) the property is discriminating (or non-trivial), and (iii) the property is qualitative. The resulting account of essence does not face any of the standard objections other accounts face, and I defend it from other potential objections.
Keywords essence  modal  qualitativeness
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DOI 10.5334/met.33
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