Putting Modal Metaphysics First

Synthese (Suppl 8):1-20 (2018)
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Abstract

I propose that we approach the epistemology of modality by putting modal metaphysics first and, specifically, by investigating the metaphysics of essence. Following a prominent Neo-Aristotelian view, I hold that metaphysical necessity depends on the nature of things, namely their essences. I further clarify that essences are core properties having distinctive superexplanatory powers. In the case of natural kinds, which is my focus in the paper, superexplanatoriness is due to the fact that the essence of a kind is what causes all the many properties and behaviors that are typically shared by all the instances of the kind. Accordingly, we know what is necessarily true of kinds by knowing what is essential to them in the sense of actually playing such causal-explanatory roles. Modal reasoning aimed at discovering metaphysical necessity thus proceeds via essentialist deduction: we move from essentialist truths to reach necessary truths.

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Author's Profile

Antonella Mallozzi
Providence College

References found in this work

The character of consciousness.David John Chalmers - 2010 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Does conceivability entail possibility.David J. Chalmers - 2002 - In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 145--200.
The Philosophy of Philosophy.Timothy Williamson - 2007 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Nature's Metaphysics: Laws and Properties.Alexander Bird - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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