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Agustín Rayo (MIT) and Penelope Mackie (Nottingham)

2021 Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association

University of Hertfordshire

16–18 July 2021


Agustin Rayo

Agustín Rayo


Beta-Conversion and the Being Constraint

Penelope Mackie

Penelope Mackie

University of Nottingham

Sortals, Timelessness, and Transcendental Truth


Modal contingentists face a dilemma: there are two attractive principles of which they can only accept one. In this paper I show that the most natural way of resolving the dilemma leads to expressive limitations. I then develop an alternative resolution. In addition to overcoming the expressive limitations, the alternative picture allows for an attractive account of arithmetic and for a style of semantic theorizing that can be helpful to contingentists.

I discuss the application, to the case of sortal concepts, of Kit Fine’s conception of the species of necessary truth that he characterizes as ‘transcendental truth’. I argue for scepticism about Fine’s thesis that substance sortals are associated with transcendental truths about contingently existing individuals. My discussion has implications for the interpretation of the type of necessity that is involved in the attribution of essential properties to contingent existents. In addition, it has implications for the question whether there are sortal predicates that are ‘timeless’ in their application to contingently existing individuals.



Agustín Rayo is a professor at MIT. He works at the intersection of metaphysics and philosophical logic.

Penelope Mackie is Associate Professor and Reader in Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. Before moving to Nottingham in 2004, she held posts at the University of Birmingham, New College Oxford, Virginia Commonwealth University, and several Oxford colleges, as well as a visiting post at the University of Maryland. She has published work on a variety of topics in metaphysics, including modality, identity and persistence, free will, counterfactuals, and causation, as well as on perceptual experience and some other topics in the philosophy of mind. Her book How Things Might Have Been: Individuals, Kinds, and Essential Properties was published by Oxford University Press in 2006.

About the Joint Session

the postgraduate session

Student Subsidies

The Supplementary Volume