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From Essence to Necessity via Identity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Embargo on accepted version is 24 months from first publication online, also needing link to published version.


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An Essentialist Theory of Modality claims that the source of possibility and necessity lies in essence, where essence is (obviously) then not to be defined in terms of necessity. Hence, such theories owe us an account of why it is that the essences of things give rise to necessities in the way required. A new approach to understanding essence in terms of the notion of generalized identity promises to answer this challenge by appeal to the necessity of identity. I explore the prospects for this approach, and argue that it fails. If one favours an account of essence in terms of generalized identity, then one will not, I argue, be able satisfactorily to defend an essentialist theory of modality against the challenge; if one wishes to defend an essentialist theory of modality, and thereby to give an explanation of how necessity arises from essence, one should not understand essence in terms of generalized identity.

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