The Reduction of Necessity to Essence (Andreas Ditter)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on May 7th from 4:15-6:15 in room 3309 of the CUNY Graduate Center for a talk by Andreas Ditter (NYU).

Title: The Reduction of Necessity to Essence

Abstract: In ‘Essence and Modality’, Kit Fine proposes that for a proposition to be metaphysically necessary is for it to be true in virtue of the nature of all objects whatsoever. Call this view ‘Fine’s Thesis’. On its intended interpretation, the view takes for granted a notion of essence that is not analyzable in terms of metaphysical necessity. It can thus be understood as an analysis of metaphysical necessity in terms of an independently understood notion of essence. In this talk, I examine Fine’s Thesis in the context of  Fine’s logic of essence (LE). I consider different ways in which the view might be developed, investigate their philosophical tenability and make precise how the plausibility of the thesis is dependent on general essentialist principles. I argue that Fine’s own development of the view, which rests on the assumption that metaphysical necessity obeys the modal logic S5, is incompatible with an independently plausible essentialist principle. I show that we can still retain S5 for metaphysical necessity by adopting a theory that is slightly weaker than Fine’s. I will conclude, however, that the most promising defense of Fine’s Thesis in the context of LE involves the adoption of a theory in which the logic of metaphysical necessity is exactly S4, not S5.

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