Essential Properties Are Super-Explanatory: Taming Metaphysical Modality

Marion Kathe Godman, Antonella Mallozzi, David Papineau

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article aims to build a bridge between two areas of philosophical research: the structure of kinds and metaphysical modality. Our central thesis is that kinds typically involve super-explanatory properties, and that these properties are therefore metaphysically essential to natural kinds. Philosophers of science who work on kinds tend to emphasize their complexity, and are generally resistant to any suggestion that they have essences. The complexities are real enough, but they should not be allowed to obscure the way that kinds are typically unified by certain core properties. We show how this unifying role offers a natural account of why certain properties are metaphysically essential to kinds.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American Philosophical Association
Pages (from-to)316-334
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Essences
  • Kinds
  • Metaphysical modality
  • Species


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