Essence and Modality
Fine (Kit)
Source: Kim, Jaegwon, Daniel Korman, and Ernest Sosa, eds. 2012. Metaphysics: An Anthology, Second Edition. (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell).
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Aims

  1. It is my aim in this paper to show that the contemporary assimilation of essence to modality1 is fundamentally misguided and that, as a consequence, the corresponding conception of metaphysics should be given up. It is not my view that the modal2 account fails to capture anything which might reasonably be called a concept of essence. My point, rather, is that the notion of essence which is of central importance to the metaphysics of identity is not to be understood in modal3 terms or even to be regarded as extensionally equivalent to a modal4 notion.
  2. The one notion is, if I am right, a highly refined version of the other; it is like a sieve which performs a similar function but with a much finer mesh. I shall also argue that the traditional assimilation of essence to definition is better suited to the task of explaining what essence is. It may not provide us with an analysis of the concept, but it does provide us with a good model of how the concept works. Thus my overall position is the reverse of the usual one. It sees real definition rather than de re modality5 as central to our understanding of the concept.


See "Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Fine, 'Essence and Modality'" for Notes.

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