The Jowett Society (Friday - Week 7, HT23)

Philosophical Society

Since the publication of "Essence and Modality" (Fine, 1994), there has been lively debate over how best to think of essence in relation to necessity. The present aim is to draw attention to a definition of essence in terms of modality that has not been given suffi‑cient attention. This neglect is perhaps unsurprising, since it is not a proposal made in response to Fine (1994) and ensuing discussion, but harks back to Ruth Barcan Marcus's earlier work on essentialist claims (Barcan Marcus, 1967, 1971). At the core of Barcan Marcus's account is Minimal Essentialism, of which there are several extensions, in particular, for cases of referential predicates (such as `x is identical to Socrates'). I argue that Minimal Essentialism fares favourably against a host of familiar examples. I close with some historical observations concerning the distinction between essence and necessity in the early days of quantified modal logic and its philosophy.

Please email if you would like to join the group for dinner afterwards.

Jowett Society Organising Committee: Imogen Rivers  | Jowett Society Website