Essence and Explanation
Document Type Article
In Necessary Beings, Bob Hale addresses two questions: What is the source of necessity? What is the source of our knowledge of it? He offers novel responses to them in terms of the meta- physical notion of nature or, more familiarly, essence. In this paper, I address Hale’s response to the first question. My assessment is negative. I argue that his essentialist explanation of the source of necessity suffers from three significant shortcomings. First, Hale’s leading example of an essentialist explanation merely asserts that the nature of an entity explains some necessity, but leaves unexplained how it does so. Second, his essentialist explanation of particular neces- sities introduces new necessities that remain unexplained. Third, Hale’s version of essentialism presupposes a controversial metaphysical theory of properties, for which he offers no defense.