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On the Reduction of Necessity to Essence

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Abstract:

In his influential paper ‘‘Essence and Modality’’, Kit Fine argues that no account of essence framed in terms of metaphysical necessity is possible, and that it is rather metaphysical necessity which is to be understood in terms of essence. On his account, the concept of essence is primitive, and for a proposition to be metaphysically necessary is for it to be true in virtue of the nature of all things. Fine also proposes a reduction of conceptual and logical necessity in the same vein: a conceptual necessity is a proposition true in virtue of the nature of all concepts, and a logical necessity a proposition true in virtue of the nature of all logical concepts. I argue that the plausibility of Fine's view crucially requires that certain apparent explanatory links between essentialist facts be admitted and accounted for, and I make a suggestion about how this can be done. I then argue against the reductions of conceptual and logical necessity proposed by Fine and suggest alternative reductions, which remain nevertheless Finean in spirit.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1933-1592.2010.00436.x

Affiliations: University of Geneva

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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