Reviving the Modal Account of Essence1
Contribution to a Book
Epistemology of Modality and Philosophical Methodology
In “Essence and Modality, " Kit Fine presents counterexamples that are widely regarded as devastating to the modal account of essence. As a result, the modal account has fallen out of favor, and the trend in metaphysics is to move toward a definitional account of essence on which only some of a thing’s necessary properties-those that “define what it is”-qualify as essential properties. This paper argues that abandoning the modal account for the definitional one is too hasty. The modal account can be repaired by adding two modifications based on determinacy and sparseness. These modifications result in a revised modal account that avoids Fine’s counterexamples. Furthermore, unlike other attempts in the literature to modify the modal account, these modifications can be analyzed in purely modal terms. The revised modal account proposed in this paper is thus fully reductive, preserving the primary virtue of the earlier modal account.
Rebecca Chan. "Reviving the Modal Account of Essence1" Epistemology of Modality and Philosophical Methodology (2023): 231-246. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003002192-13