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Putting modal metaphysics first

Putting modal metaphysics first I propose that we approach the epistemology of modality by putting modal metaphysics first and, specifically, by investigating the metaphysics of essence. Following a prominent Neo-Aristotelian view, I hold that metaphysical necessity depends on the nature of things, namely their essences. I further clarify that essences are core properties having distinctive superexplanatory powers. In the case of natural kinds, which is my focus in the paper, superexplanatoriness is due to the fact that the essence of a kind is what causes all the many properties and behaviors that are typically shared by all the instances of the kind. Accordingly, we know what is necessarily true of kinds by knowing what is essential to them in the sense of actually playing such causal-explanatory roles. Modal reasoning aimed at discovering metaphysical necessity thus proceeds via essentialist deduction: we move from essentialist truths to reach necessary truths. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Synthese Springer Journals

Putting modal metaphysics first

Synthese , Volume 198 (Suppl 8) – May 29, 2018

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © Springer Nature B.V. 2018
Subject
Philosophy; Philosophy of Science; Epistemology; Logic; Philosophy of Language; Metaphysics
ISSN
0039-7857
eISSN
1573-0964
DOI
10.1007/s11229-018-1828-2
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

I propose that we approach the epistemology of modality by putting modal metaphysics first and, specifically, by investigating the metaphysics of essence. Following a prominent Neo-Aristotelian view, I hold that metaphysical necessity depends on the nature of things, namely their essences. I further clarify that essences are core properties having distinctive superexplanatory powers. In the case of natural kinds, which is my focus in the paper, superexplanatoriness is due to the fact that the essence of a kind is what causes all the many properties and behaviors that are typically shared by all the instances of the kind. Accordingly, we know what is necessarily true of kinds by knowing what is essential to them in the sense of actually playing such causal-explanatory roles. Modal reasoning aimed at discovering metaphysical necessity thus proceeds via essentialist deduction: we move from essentialist truths to reach necessary truths.

Journal

SyntheseSpringer Journals

Published: May 29, 2018

References