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Essence and Modality

Edward N. Zalta
Mind
Vol. 115, No. 459 (Jul., 2006), pp. 659-693
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the Mind Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3840586
Page Count: 35
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Essence and Modality
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Abstract

Some recently-proposed counterexamples to the traditional definition of essential property do not require a separate logic of essence. Instead, the examples can be analysed in terms of the logic and theory of abstract objects. This theory distinguishes between abstract and ordinary objects, and provides a general analysis of the essential properties of both kinds of object. The claim 'x has F necessarily' becomes ambiguous in the case of abstract objects, and in the case of ordinary objects there are various ways to make the definition of 'F is essential to x' more fine-grained. Consequently, the traditional definition of essential property for abstract objects in terms of modal notions is not correct, and for ordinary objects the relationship between essential properties and modality, once properly understood, addresses the counterexample.

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