Explaining Essences

Philosophical Studies (forthcoming)

Authors
Michael J. Raven
University of Victoria
Abstract
This paper explores the prospects of combining two views. The first view is metaphysical rationalism (the principle of sufficient reason): all things have an explanation. The second view is metaphysical essentialism: there are real essences. The exploration is motivated by a conflict between the views. Metaphysical essentialism posits facts about essences. Metaphysical rationalism demands explanations for all facts. But facts about essences appear to resist explanation. I consider two solutions to the conflict. Exemption solutions attempt to exempt facts about essences from the demand for explanation. Explanation solutions attempt to explain facts about essences. I argue that exemption solutions are less promising than explanation solutions. I then consider how explanation solutions might be developed. I suggest that a “generative” approach is most promising. I tentatively conclude that the prospects for combining metaphysical rationalism and metaphysical essentialism turn on the viability of a generative approach. This sets the agenda for defending the combination as well as the more general project of explaining essences.
Keywords Essence  Explanation  Grounding  Principle of Sufficient Reason
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References found in this work BETA

The Possibility of Physicalism.Shamik Dasgupta - 2014 - Journal of Philosophy 111 (9-10):557-592.
Critique of Pure Reason.Immanuel Kant & Norman Kemp Smith - 1966 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 26 (3):449-451.
Ground.Michael J. Raven - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (5):322-333.

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