Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

Modal Logicism and De Re Necessity [Special Issue]

Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Modal Logic, Ontology
Keywords: Essences, Generalized identity, Modal logicism, Necessity


This article introduces Logicism about Necessity as a competitor to the currently popular Essentialism. The main point of contention between the two views concerns the ultimate source of metaphysical necessity. Essentialists take essences to ultimately ground metaphysical necessity, Logicists take logic to play that role. I provide some support for the claim that one of these two views is correct, and I use recent material from Fabrice Correia and Alex Skiles to develop a specific version of Logicism in some detail. The main ambition of the article is to present an argument against Logicism. I argue that Logicists do not provide a successful account of de re necessity.

Modality was crucial to the revival of metaphysics in the 20th century. After a long period of domination by anti-metaphysical outlooks like positivism and pragmatism, groundbreaking work on modality, by Saul Kripke, David Lewis, and others, brought metaphysics back into focus. Possible worlds were their key to such modal notions as necessity, possibility, counterfactuals, dispositions, and supervenience, which still pervade philosophical inquiry today. What has changed, however, is that we no longer trust possible worlds as a guide for the metaphysics of modality. The currently most popular view on the metaphysics of modality is hyperintensionalism, the view that necessity and possibility derive from more fine-grained phenomena like essences, laws, and logic. Focusing on so-called “metaphysical necessity”, the most popular view among modal metaphysicians today is that it is grounded in…


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