Synthese 198 (8):7715-7737 (2021)

Gaétan Bovey
University Tübingen
Kit Fine famously objected against the idea that essence can be successfully analyzed in terms of de re necessity. In response, I want to explore a novel, interesting, but controversial modal account of essence in terms of intrinsicality and grounding. In the first section, I will single out two theoretical requirements that any essentialist theory should meet—the essentialist desideratum and the essentialist challenge—in order to clarify Fine’s objections. In the second section, I will assess Denby’s improved modal account, which appeals to the notion of intrinsicality, and argue that it is untenable. In the third section, I will explain how, when combined with a modal-existential criterion, a hyperintensional account of intrinsicality—in the same vein as Bader (J Philos 110(10): 525–563, 2013) and Rosen (in: Hale and Hoffman (eds) Modality: Metaphysics, logic, and epistemology, Oxford, OUP, 2010)—can help successfully address Fine’s counterexamples. In the fourth section, I will evaluate how this novel analysis of essence stands with respect to sortal, origin, and natural kinds essentialism and discuss potential objections and difficulties.
Keywords Essence  Essentialism  Intrinsic properties  Modality  Kit Fine  Grounding  Parthood
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-020-02545-y
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References found in this work BETA

On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Wiley-Blackwell.
Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
Parts: A Study in Ontology.Peter Simons - 1987 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Monism: The Priority of the Whole.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (1):31-76.
Essence and Modality.Kit Fine - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8 (Logic and Language):1-16.

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