Essence and Identity
Koslicki (Kathrin)
Source: Forthcoming in: Metaphysics, Meaning and Modality: Themes from Kit Fine, edited by Mircea Dumitru, to appear with Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Conclusion

  1. My primary focus in this paper has been on the question of how essentialists should attempt to meet Quine’s demand for necessary and sufficient conditions for the crossworld identity of individuals.
  2. I examined six contenders for the role of crossworld identity principles:
    1. an object’s qualitative character;
    2. matter;
    3. origins;
    4. haecceities;
    5. world-indexed properties; and
    6. form.
  3. The first three fail to provide conditions that are both necessary and sufficient for the crossworld identity of individuals; the fourth and fifth criteria are open to the charge that they do not succeed in meeting Quine’s demand in an explanatorily adequate fashion. And while the sixth strategy also involves an appeal to some presupposed crossworld identity facts (viz., those concerning individual forms), I have nevertheless tried to indicate, albeit only briefly, why individual forms, on the whole, can take on a much greater explanatory burden with respect to the hylomorphic compounds with which they are affiliated than the two closest competing crossworld identity principles, viz., haecceities and world-indexed properties.
  4. On balance, then, the sixth option deserves to be taken very seriously as a possible response to Quine’s challenge, especially by neo-Aristotelians who are already motivated for other reasons to take on board a hylomorphic conception of unified wholes. Many of these hylomorphists also accept a non-modal conception of essence and thus face the further difficult task, over and above what is required to meet Quine’s challenge, of having to explain an object’s de re modal profile in terms of facts about its essence.
  5. Haecceities and world-indexed properties are unlikely to be of much help with respect to this second challenge, while the forms of hylomorphic compounds are in fact well suited for this purpose.


See Koslicki - Essence and Identity.

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