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The impossibility of natural necessity

Oderberg, D. ORCID: (2018) The impossibility of natural necessity. In: Carruth, A., Gibb, S. C. and Heil, J. (eds.) Ontology, Modality, and Mind: Themes from the Metaphysics of E.J. Lowe. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780198796299

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I build a case for the impossibility of natural necessity as anything other than a species of metaphysical necessity – the necessity obtaining in virtue of the essences of natural objects. Aristotelian necessitarianism about the laws of nature is clarified and defended. I contrast it with E.J. Lowe’s contingentism about the laws. I examine Lowe’s solution to the circularity/triviality problem besetting natural necessity understood as relative necessity. Lowe’s way out is subject to serious problems unless it is given an essentialist turn, which he declines to do. Further, his defence of contingency in terms of possible variation in the natural constants is found wanting, as is a related defence given by Kit Fine. I examine and raise problems for a recent, Lowe-inspired defence of a hybrid view of the modal status of laws given by Tuomas Tahko. Aristotelian necessitarianism can account for the sorts of phenomena to which contingentists typically appeal.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:70234
Publisher:Oxford University Press

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