Essence & Modality

August 6, 2018 - August 7, 2018
Department of Philosophy, University of Graz

Heinrichstraße 26
Graz 8010

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

All speakers:

Université de Fribourg
Durham University
Slovak Academy of Sciences
Slovak Academy of Sciences
University of Graz


University of Graz
University of Graz
University of Graz

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Modality and Essences seem to be closely connected. Due to the work of philosophers like Kit Fine, E. J. Lowe and Bob Hale this connection has taken center stage in large parts of both the metaphysics and the epistemology of modality for the past twenty years. Even though much ink has been spilled over the connection between essence and modality, some crucial issues about its details have only recently become the center of attention, such that it remains an incredibly hot topic in current debates.

This workshop is concerned with finding and assessing new directions in the debate about the epistemology and metaphysics of essence and modality. It explicitly targets early career researchers (advanced PhD students and early career Post Docs).

The workshop is embedded in a lager project situated at the University of Graz: The Epistemology and Metaphysics of Essence and Modality is a 3-year research project conducted by Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl and Michael Wallner and funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF: P 29050).

Questions this workshop tackles include:

  • What is the metaphysical and epistemic source of modality?
  • Can we ground modality in essence?
  • What does it mean to ground modality in essence?
  • Can we analyze essence in completely non-modal terms?
  • What does it mean to ground modal knowledge in knowledge of essence?
  • Can knowledge of essence be strictly prior to modal knowledge?
  • How do essence-based accounts in the epistemology of modality fare compared to other accounts?
  • How does the epistemology of essence work?
  • How can essences help us to (re)shape our metaphysical concepts?

Monday, Aug. 6, 2018

9:00-9:15am      Welcome

9:15-10:30am    S. Mattila: “Origin, Kind, Matter – a Kripkean Epistemology of Necessity”

10:30-10:45am  Coffee Break

10:45-12:00pm  E. Carta: “Husserl on the Normativity of Essence”

12:00-1:30pm    Lunch 

1:30-2:45pm      M. Wallner: “Understanding, Imagination, and the Epistemology of Essence”

2:45-3:00pm      Coffee Break

3:00-4:15pm      M. Vacek & D. Glavaničová: “On What There Could Not Be: Fictional Characters as Impossible Individuals”

then                   Drinks & Dinner

Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018

9:00-9:15am      Welcome 

9:15-10:30am    G. Giannini: “Dispositionalism and Essentialism”

10:30-10:45am  Coffee Break

10:45-11:30am  M. Baron: “Mathematics, Counterfactuals and Pluralism”

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