Essence and Existence
By an essentialist theory of modality, I mean a theory which seeks to explain metaphysical necessity and possibility as deriving from the essence or nature of things. The theory I defended in Necessary Beings asserts that it is necessary that p if and only if (and because) it is true in virtue of the nature of some things that p, and possible that p if and only if there are no things whose natures preclude it being true that p. The theory faces problems when it is combined, as it is in Necessary Beings, with a strong form of contingentism which holds that some things, and their natures, exist only contingently, and with the view, for which I also argued there, that the modal logic of absolute metaphysical modalities is S5. While much of the solution to these problems I proposed can be upheld, an important part of it needs significant revision. This paper explains some of the main problems confronting this theory, presents an improved defence of my solution to some of them, and provides a new and better solution for that part of the problem where significant revision is needed.