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Essential Properties are Super-Explanatory: Taming Metaphysical Modality

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Marion Godman, Antonella Mallozzi, David Papineau

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-334
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the American Philosophical Association
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jul 2020
Accepted/In press14 Nov 2019
E-pub ahead of print20 Jul 2020
Published1 Sep 2020


King's Authors


This article aims to build a bridge between two areas of philosophical research: the structure of kinds and metaphysical modality. Our central thesis is that kinds typically involve super-explanatory properties, and that these properties are therefore metaphysically essential to natural kinds. Philosophers of science who work on kinds tend to emphasize their complexity, and are generally resistant to any suggestion that they have essences. The complexities are real enough, but they should not be allowed to obscure the way that kinds are typically unified by certain core properties. We show how this unifying role offers a natural account of why certain properties are metaphysically essential to kinds.

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