Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

(Finean) Essence and (Priorean) Modality

Correia, Fabrice

In: Dialectica, 2007, vol. 61, no. 1, p. 63-84

In Fine 1994, Kit Fine challenges the (widespread) view that the notion of essence is to be understood in terms of the metaphysical modalities, and he argues that it is not essence which reduces to metaphysical modality, but rather metaphysical modality which reduces to essence. In this paper I put forward a modal account of essence and argue that it is immune from Fine’s objections. The... Plus

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    Summary
    In Fine 1994, Kit Fine challenges the (widespread) view that the notion of essence is to be understood in terms of the metaphysical modalities, and he argues that it is not essence which reduces to metaphysical modality, but rather metaphysical modality which reduces to essence. In this paper I put forward a modal account of essence and argue that it is immune from Fine’s objections. The account presupposes a non-standard, independently motivated conception of the metaphysical modalities which I dub Priorean. Arthur Prior never endorsed that very conception, but in some respects his own views on the topic are so close to it, and different from all (most?) currently accepted views, that the label ‘Priorean’ is perfectly appropriate.