Toward a New Theory of Moderate Contingentism
Pranciškus Gricius, Pranciškus Gricius

part of: 26th Annual Oxford Graduate Philosophy Conference
November 12, 2022, 10:30am - 11:30am
Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford

Lecture Room
Faculty of Philosophy
Oxford OX2 6GG
United Kingdom

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  • Aristotelian Society
  • Royal Institute of Philosophy
  • Analysis Trust
  • Faculty of Philosophy


Oxford University
Oxford University
Oxford University
Oxford University
Oxford University
Oxford University

Topic areas



Moderate contingentism combines two theses: first-order contingentism, the view that it is contingent what individuals exist, and higher-order necessitism, the view that it is necessary what higher-order entities exist. Moderate contingentism, Fine (1985: 148–155), Williamson (2013: 267–277), and others argue, cannot be upheld because of the problem of unexemplified essences. In this paper, we develop a new theory of moderate contingentism – dub it Fundamental Essentialism – which, we claim, can solve the aforementioned problem. According to fundamental essentialism, individuals just are realized essences.  

The theory we propose and defend is a descendant of Plantinga’s (1974, 1976) and Jager’s (1982) version of moderate contingentism (PJ, for short), so most of our discussion proceeds by way of showing how our account betters PJ. First, (§1) we rehearse the problem that led to PJ, i. e. the classical objection to orthodox possible worlds semantics (Kripke 1963), namely, if it is interpreted realistically, the semantic framework cannot accommodate both (first-order) contingentism and actualism. Then, (§2) we show how PJ solves this problem, and (§3) we spell out the problem of unexemplified essences. Afterward, (§4.1.) we develop the theory of fundamental essentialism, (§4.2.) we provide model-theoretic semantics for it, and we show how the proposed theory enables us to solve (§4.3.) the classical objection and (§4.4.) the problem of unexemplified essences. Before concluding, (§5) we answer a few critical questions concerning our favored theory. 

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