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Necessary Beings An Essay on Ontology, Modality, and the Relations Between Them

ISBN: 9780199669578 | 0199669570
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Pub. Date: 12/15/2013

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Necessary Beings is concerned with two central areas of metaphysics: modality--the theory of necessity, possibility, and other related notions; and ontology--the general study of what kinds of entities there are. Bob Hale's overarching purpose is to develop and defend two quite general theses about what is required for the existence of entities of various kinds: that questions about what kinds of things there are cannot be properly understood or adequately answered without recourse to considerations about possibility and necessity, and that, conversely, questions about the nature and basis of necessity and possibility cannot be satisfactorily tackled without drawing on what might be called the methodology of ontology. Taken together, these two theses claim that ontology and modality are mutually dependent upon one another, neither more fundamental than the other.

Hale defends a broadly Fregean approach to metaphysics, according to which ontological distinctions among different kinds of things (objects, properties, and relations) are to be drawn on the basis of prior distinctions between different logical types of expression. The claim that facts about what kinds of things exist depend upon facts about what is possible makes little sense unless one accepts that at least some modal facts are fundamental, and not reducible to facts of some other, non-modal, sort. He argues that facts about what is absolutely necessary or possible have this character, and that they have their source or basis, not in meanings or concepts nor in facts about alternative 'worlds', but in the natures or essences of things.


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