Essentialism and Quantified Modal Logic
Parsons (Terence)
Source: The Philosophical Review, Vol. 78, No. 1 (Jan., 1969), pp. 35-52
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Problems involving essentialism are now receiving a great deal of attention from modal logicians1 and philosophers. Even a cursory glance at work in this field, however, soon reveals that there are many doctrines which go by this title.
  2. I will isolate and discuss one such doctrine. In particular, after isolating one version of essentialism (Sections I and II), I will argue that work in quantified modal logic2 can be and is independent of the acceptance of the truth of this doctrine (Sections III-V). In the last section (Section VI) I will attempt to show, on the basis of facts established in Sections III-V, just why this particular form of essentialism is a philosophically suspect doctrine.
  3. I will also argue that work in quantified modal logic3 need not even presuppose the meaningfulness of essentialist claims in any objectionable sense.
  4. My arguments aim at
    1. a clarification of one sort of essentialism, and
    2. a partial vindication of quantified modal logic4.


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