Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

Can a Necessity Be the Source of Necessity? [Special Issue]

Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Modal Logic, Ontology
Keywords: Bob Hale, Christopher Peacocke, Essentialism, Modality, Necessity


This paper asks whether a necessity can be the source of necessity. According to an influential argument due to Simon Blackburn, it cannot. This paper argues that although Blackburn fails to show that a necessity cannot be the source of necessity, extant accounts fail to establish that it is, with particular focus on Bob Hale’s essentialist theory and Christopher Peacocke’s ‘principle-based’ theory of modality. However, the paper makes some positive suggestions for what a satisfactory answer to the challenge must look like.

There are many things that are true. Of these things, some are necessarily true, in the sense that they could not have been otherwise. For instance, it is not only true that 2 + 2 = 4, or that all red things are coloured; these things could not have been otherwise. But what, if anything, explains why these things are not simply true, but necessarily so? What makes necessary truths necessarily true? What is the source of…


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