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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? Essences play a starring role in recent debates about metaphysical modality and methodology.  In current 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 conventions. I am weighing the costs and benefits of conventionalist theories of essences.  Even more generally, I am interested in the metaphysical implications of modal logic, the metaphysical 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 is rationally permissible to form preferences over metaphysical impossibilities.

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)