Necessary Beings

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

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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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Product details

  • Paperback | 308 pages
  • 157 x 231 x 17mm | 468g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0198748035
  • 9780198748038
  • 1,375,041

Table of contents

Preface and acknowledgements ; Introduction ; 1. Ontological preliminaries ; 2. The necessity of necessity ; 3. Irreducible modality ; 4. Absolute Modality ; 5. The Source of Logical Necessities ; 6. Metaphysical Necessities ; 7. Necessary beings: properties and numbers ; 8. Higher-order logics ; 9. Contingent beings ; 10. Possibilities ; 11. Essential knowledge ; Bibliography ; Index
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Review quote

Bob Hale's distinguished record of research places him among the most important and influential contemporary analytic metaphysicians. In his deep, wide-ranging, yet highly readable book Necessary Beings, Hale draws upon, but substantially integrates and extends, a good deal of his past research to produce a sustained and richly textured essay on - as promised in the subtitle - ontology, modality, and the relations between them. Christopher Menzel, Philosophia Mathematica [T]he essentialist theory presented in this book constitutes a significant contribution to an exciting research project concerning the relations between modality and essence. In addition, of course, Hale's development of the essentialist theory is only one aspect of the book's important contribution to central and fundamental topics concerning the nature of modality. Penelope Mackie, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews It is very a thorough book and Hale covers a lot of ground. It contains not only new research but also useful summaries of Hales views and overviews of the various positions he opposes or develops. Thus it is not only of interest to experts in the field, but it can also serve as an introduction to the topic to readers with a general knowledge of logic and metaphysics.
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About Bob Hale

Bob Hale, Sheffield University
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