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Essentialism and Modal Conventions

Do some objects have essential properties—properties that they could not lack and which play some role in characterizing their nature? Are these properties adequately described by de re modal schemas? Essences play a starring role in recent debates about metaphysical modality and methodology.  In recent work, I investigate potential anti-essentialist arguments.  I am also interested in the best approaches to modal conventionalism—in particular, the view that modal truths depend on explanatory norms. Such theories often presuppose anti-realism, but I argue there are viable realist variants.  Even more generally, I am interested in the ontological implications of modal logic, the ontological commitments of possible-worlds semantics, and versions of modal logic that do not take operators as structural. And in my Time Biases book I consider when and why it might be rationally permissible to form preferences over metaphysical impossibilities. Connections between modality and value reappear in the current ethical commitment manuscript.

Relevant Papers:

  1. Modal Logic as Methodology (PPR 2014)
  2. Modal Oecumenism (Analysis 2015)
  3. The Irrelevance of Essence (PPR 2015)
  4. Are There Essential Properties? No. (Current Controversies in Metaphysics 2016)
  5. Boring Ontological Realism (Res Philosophica 2017)
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