Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 2, pp 339–350 | Cite as

Essence, necessity, and definition

  • Justin ZylstraEmail author


What is it for something to be essential to an item? For some time, it was standard to think that the concept of necessity alone can provide an answer: for something to be essential to an item is for it to be strictly implied by the existence of that item. We now tend to think that this view fails because its analysans is insufficient for its analysandum. In response, some argue that we can supplement the analysis in terms of necessity with a further condition. In this paper I argue that this view is untenable in its current form. I then provide a glimmer of hope to those who think that essence is at least partially analyzable in terms of necessity.


Essence Modality Real definition 



Thanks to Louis deRosset, Kathrin Koslicki, Mike Raven, Riin Sirkel, and to an audience at the University of Vermont for helpful feedback.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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