Necessity, Essence and Explanation (Dongwoo Kim)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on March 28th from 4:15-6:15 (NY time) via Zoom for a talk by Dongwoo Kim (CUNY).

Title: Necessity, Essence and Explanation

Abstract: I shall discuss some of the relations between metaphysical modality, essence and explanation. The essentialist approach to metaphysical modality seeks to give an account of necessity (and thus of possibility) as having its source in essence. But what is essence, and in what sense and how does it give rise to necessity? In their recent paper “Essential Properties are Super-Explanatory: Taming Metaphysical Modality” (2020), Marion Godman, Antonella Mallozzi and David Papineau have attempted to address these issues with respect to aposteriori necessities concerning kinds. According to their account, the essence of a kind consists in the super-explanatory property—a single property that is causally responsible for a multitude of commonalities shared by the instances of the kind. And they argue that this super-explanatory notion of essence offers a principled account of aposteriori necessities concerning kinds. In this talk, I am going to argue that their account is not satisfactory. I shall examine two main arguments of GMP that the super-explanatory property of a kind is metaphysically necessary and argue that they both are fallacious. Along the way, a general problem will emerge that applies to any account that tries to explicate the notion of essence in terms of an explanatory relation.

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