Knowing how things might have been

Synthese:1-19 (2018)
Authors
Mark Jago
Nottingham University
Abstract
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 essences; and that we can gain knowledge of them. We can know about which properties are, and which properties are not, essential to a given entity. This knowledge of essence offers a route to knowledge of the ways those entities must be or could be.
Keywords Modal epistemology  Modality  Essence
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-018-1869-6
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